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Coronavirus continues to impact hotel industry

By: Erin Bedell, Foodservice Equipment Distributors Association (FEDA) | Jun 2, 2020

Bedell

Hotels have always focused on cleaning efforts behind the scenes, now they will shift those efforts front and center.

Michael Dominguez, president of Associated Luxury Hotels International and leading strategist during these unprecedented times, recently presented a webinar about the impact of coronavirus on meetings and events and what we as planners might see in hotels in the coming months. Dominguez is the co- chair of the Events Industry Council’s COVID-19 Business Recovery Task Force, a group that will work toward providing resources that support the event industry’s recovery globally. 

Here are some key areas that the speaker thinks the hotel industry will tackle as they work to protect guests as and think about hosting events again:

Facilities

Event attendees can expect to see housekeeping using disinfectant foggers, similar to hospitals, to clean common areas and rooms.

Hotels also plan to create environments that adhere to the 6 feet apart guidelines, even within networking lounges. In physical spaces, the rooms will be set for attendees to take the first seat and fill in to the ends, like a church, to avoid attendees from having to cross over each other. Attendees may even go right into breakout rooms and live stream general sessions. Similarly, trade show exhibits will have traffic in one direction with socially distanced layouts. 

To put planner’s minds at ease as much as possible, the Global Biorisk Advisory Council has introduced a facility accreditation program on cleaning, disinfection, and infectious disease prevention. It will assess a facilities’ preparedness for biorisk situations. Some companies like Hyatt Hotels & Resorts and McCormick Place in Chicago are already planning to pursue the accreditation. 

Food and Beverages

For the short term, buffets will be a thing of the past. People will not be touching food and sneeze guards will be in place in front of food that is open to attendees. Coffee breaks will be rethought; to distance and reduce contact, hotel staff will serve coffee and attendees will most likely be given individual packaged bags with sugar and stirrers along with pre-packaged break snacks. 

We will see boxed meals become enhanced, not typical box lunch menus, but major meals prepared for distribution to attendees to lessening movement from room to room.

Sustainability

One of the challenges hotels are facing is keeping their sustainability promises to guests as heightened health and safety requirements necessitate the use of pre-packaged disposable products, such as boxed meals and disposable masks, that have not been touched before use. The increased use of disposables also means hotels and event venues will be managing additional waste.

COVID-19 Testing Technology

Be prepared to see some hotels add technology that can check attendees for fevers. One less obtrusive method discussed during the webinar was thermal imaging, which uses tracks the difference in heat signatures from an image to detect fevers. In the event a guest is found to have an elevated temperature, hotels may quarantine those individuals in isolated areas until they can be relocated elsewhere.

 

Erin Bedell has served as the Meeting and Event Planner for the Foodservice Equipment Distributors Association for two and a half years and is a member of MPI-CAC’s Trivia Committee. In her spare time, she enjoys traveling, cooking, and chasing her toddler.

 

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Erin Bedell, Foodservice Equipment Distributors Association (FEDA)
Foodservice Equipment Distributors Association

 
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