New-look Live Events: Continuous and Visible Sanitization

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New-look Live Events: Continuous and Visible Sanitization

By Blair Potter | May 20, 2020

Hotels and convention centers are enhancing sanitization efforts and ensuring staff are well trained and healthy as new-look live events prepare to return. Check out our blog tomorrow for part two of this report, focused on keeping attendees from infecting each other with the coronavirus and specific challenges posed by live events.

David Winters, chief operating officer for the Metropolitan Pier and Exposition Authority (MPEA), says Chicago’s McCormick Place (which is managed by the MPEA) has always strived to provide the highest standards of cleanliness, which has helped ensure the cleanliness of something we hear a lot about these days: high-traffic areas.

“Learning from the H1N1 [experience], we invested in portable hand sanitizers that could be deployed to high-touch or high-traffic areas,” he says. “We have continued to increase our inventory, and this has prepared us well to respond to the current COVID-19 pandemic.”

“Learning from the H1N1 [experience], we invested in portable hand sanitizers that could be deployed to high-touch or high-traffic areas.”

Winters says the biggest change in sanitization practices is incorporating increased cleaning following the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency’s emerging pathogen policy regarding disinfectants.

“We are using Virex II 256, which is a hospital-grade disinfectant for cleaning all areas of the facility,” he says. “This cleaning includes handrails, all info desks, all door handles, public furniture, water fountains and high-touchpoints in meeting rooms.”

Dan Surette (MPI Dallas/Fort Worth Chapter), chief sales officer for Omni Hotels & Resorts, says we will all need to quickly accept changes to longstanding business customs and norms.

“Attendees and our associates will have to adjust to differences in how we manage the flow of traffic at meetings so that sanitization can be continuous and visible during the course of an event, rather than after hours, which will now become a thing of the past,” he says.

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Cara Banasch, vice president of sales for Omni Hotels & Resorts, says the company’s elevated disinfection efforts are outlined in the “Omni Safe & Clean” initiative and include the requirement for associates to wear masks and gloves and undergo daily health screenings (including temperature checks).

“We will have additional staff scheduled for increased cleaning and bell carts will be disinfected after each use,” she says.

Chandra Allison (MPI New Jersey Chapter), senior vice president of sales for The Venetian Resort Las Vegas, says the company recently released “Venetian Clean,” a summary of more than 800 initiatives developed in response to the coronavirus pandemic—from providing dedicated attendants to clean bathrooms or escalator handrails between sessions to exploring new technology to sanitize meeting rooms, such as UV lights and electrostatic sprayers. (The Venetian recently announced that it would resume operations on June 1.) 

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In addition to additional training on cleanliness and the appropriate use of masks and gloves, The Venetian is also helping staff members remain informed about their own health.

“Prior to reopening, The Venetian is providing COVID-19 testing for all team members, as well as optional testing for any members of their immediate household,” Allison says. “This includes an optional COVID-19 antibody test, which helps to determine if a person may have already been exposed to the virus.”

Winters says McCormick Place officials are continuing to update health and safety procedures as public health officials and infection control experts offer new guidance.

“We are also leveraging this time to finalize our campus-wide reopening plan,” he says. “We are providing guidance on additional staff training necessary for interacting with visitors, event move-in/tear-down instructions and space considerations, updated campus housekeeping protocols and guest experience procedures at the hotels and restaurants on campus.”

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Blair Potter
Blair Potter

Blair Potter is managing editor for The Meeting Professional. He likes toys and collects cats (or is it the other way around?).