This post is sponsored by Hilton
Event planning experts know there are key tenets that make an event great. To start, asking the right questions and getting to know your audience and how they engage with your brand. Now, months after events shifted to virtual experiences, we're back to basics and relying on these cornerstone aspects but with a focus on ensuring attendees are comfortable with in-person protocols.
As Hilton plans their first in-person internal event this December in Las Vegas, we wanted to know how their planners are moving through the dynamics of event planning during this unique time. The conference, Americas Commercial Conference 2021, will bring together Hilton’s commercial leaders from Marketing, Sales, Customer Experience, Commercial Operations and several properties. These teams will meet to engage, align and continue driving recovery initiatives.
We spoke with Kelly Knowlen, Vice President, Sales Engagement and Special Events, Commercial Services at Hilton to get an idea of how they've been preparing.
Hilton Shares EventReady Tips for Planners
The safety and comfort of attendees and team members are always priority #1 when planning an event. Never has it been more important to create a plan that keeps everyone safe and healthy. One of the biggest challenges in planning an event during the pandemic has been alignment on health protocols. There are many things to communicate with both stakeholders and attendees.
Some things to think about when booking an event are below.
- What local restrictions are in place when booking the event, and is additional space required for physical distancing?
- Are outdoor spaces available?
- Will you require COVID vaccinations and negative COVID tests?
- How will you collect proof of vaccinations?
- What and how will you communicate these requirements to attendees?
- Will you schedule a virtual option for those unable to attend?
- What accommodations are available for international attendees and the testing requirements for travel?
For our event, we've aligned with our corporate office on the need for full vaccinations for all attendees. Attendees were able to upload their information to a secure intranet site before registration confirmation. Due to the event taking place the week before Christmas, we heard concerns that attendees wanted to have a COVID test before going home to be with family for the holidays. And so, we will be issuing a COVID home test to each person when they arrive and pick up their badge.
Additionally, we've established a thorough COVID plan, including the highlights below:
- If any attendee becomes symptomatic, they are asked to contact the planning team.
- The planning team will assist them with getting tested.
- If the test result is positive, the planning team will enact a contact tracing plan which includes gathering names of others they have come in contact with and notifying them.
- Attendees who tested positive will be asked to quarantine in their room. They will be provided room service food and beverage and N95 masks.
- For awareness, all conference attendees will be notified that someone has tested positive.
We offer the following advice on protocols specific to COVID:
Be ready for a LOT of questions around this topic from attendees. As things continue to change, also be prepared to be flexible and pack your patience. We are operating in a new meeting and events world, and as a team, you’ll need to do what is best for attendees to keep them safe and make them feel comfortable.
- Stay aware and informed about local protocols.
- Align with your stakeholders, legal and human resources on vaccination requirements for team members, vendors and attendees.
- Communicate with the venue about safety protocols early and often.
- Create a comprehensive communication plan to ensure everyone is fully informed on protocols and procedures.
- Have COVID home tests available for attendees with symptoms or assurance that they are negative before heading home.
- Try to book venues with outdoor options for meal functions.
- Have a contingency plan for:
- Anyone who becomes symptomatic or tests positive
- Speakers who may become ill and are unable to attend
- Local ordinances that may change and impact your events (spacing, masks, travel and attendance.)
To learn more about Hilton Meetings and Events and the EventReady playbook visit HiltonEventReadyPlaybook.com.