5 COVID Safety Lessons I Learned

COVID Safety

COVID safety will be front of mind for meeting planners as we head into 2021 and beyond. Here are a few things I have learned as I plan for Prevue’s February 2021 in-person Best Practices Summit.

I am in the midst of planning our first in-person Prevue Summit since COVID, February 25 to 26, working closely with the experts at Emergency Concierge International and our partners at the Dallas/Plano Marriott at Legacy Town Center. Here are 5 COVID safety steps we will take.

Cocktail Hour

There’s no getting around it: It’s risky when attendees take off their masks to eat. After a couple of drinks, they also tend to let their guards down and social distances melt away. So we decided to host a different kind of reception, which will be held poolside. Our 50 attendees will receive masks with a space for their straws (yes, even beer and wine drinkers will need to use a straw, which should be interesting, or choose a soft drink or cocktail) and have the chance to mingle safely. Upon departing, we will offer a signature cocktail to go and what the hotel calls its “Gala Box” for people to take back to their rooms, or enjoy with a close group of friends. The reception will also feature a strolling magician doing no-touch tricks and a touchless amenity table of Western-themed items by International Gifting Company.

Buzzing Bracelets

It’s human nature to move closer to people we know and with whom we have always shared a social distance of less than 6 feet. So we are exploring warning devices—key fobs, bracelets and cards—for attendees to carry with them. These automatically buzz when people get within 6 feet of each other and are already being used in factories and other workplaces. And the reviews from planners who have used them say they really help!

Bunching

I love this term, which was introduced to me by Melinda Burdette, director of events at Meeting Professionals International and a guest speaker on our recent Duty of Care webinar. Like she did for MPI’s recent WEC, we are taking a close look at queueing at the registration area, turning one men’s room into a women’s room and stationing staff to direct attendees during breaks, and calling up small groups one at a time to exit the meeting room, among other steps. We also have 5 people—one per 10 attendees—assigned to police masks and distancing.

Temperature Checks & On-Site EMT

Pre-meeting, attendees will receive a liability waiver and personal accountability statement to sign, along with a complete rundown of the safety measures we have put in place. Upon entering each day, we have set aside a meeting room where each person will fill out a health questionnaire and have his or her temperature taken. Emergency Concierge International has put together an extensive safety plan, including protocols for a potential on-site emergency. We have set aside a crisis room for quarantine purposes, and will have a trained EMT on site and on call 24 hours a day.

Room Setups & F&B

The core mission of the Prevue Visionary Summits is education, and we have a packed agenda of sessions and speakers. Our 50 attendees will be seated at their own individual socially distanced tables in the ballroom for the duration of the event, and eat both breakfast and lunch at their seats (pre-packaged). Sodas will be served, coffees created by a barista. Appointments between our planners and sponsors will be held at 6-ft tables with plexiglass screens. After lunch, we are offering the option of a short walk around the hotel’s lake to encourage people to stretch and get some fresh air.

We hope to see you at our Best Practices Summit in February! You can learn more here.

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Barbara Scofidio is editor of Prevue and heads up the Visionary Summits, our exclusive conference series targeting senior-level meeting and incentive planners. In 25 years of covering the industry, her articles have spanned topics ranging from social media to strategic meetings management. She is currently the media liaison for FICP's Education Committee and was the first member of the media ever to be invited to sit on a committee by GBTA, where she spent three years on the Groups and Meetings Committee. She has also been an active member of Site, chairing its Crystal Awards committee and acting as a judge. A familiar face at industry events, Barbara often leads panel discussions or speaks on topics close to her heart, such as green meetings or how the industry can help combat human trafficking. She is also on the board of ECPAT USA, the human trafficking organization. Barbara is based outside Boston, in Groton, Mass.

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