In the United States, many event and meeting planners are navigating the unfamiliar and ever-changing waters of COVID safety protocols as we begin transitioning back to in-person events (thanks, vaccine!). It’s an exciting, but somewhat daunting time.
It can be tough to keep up, with U.S. regulations varying by state, county and sometimes even city. For example, as of April 22, Massachusetts mandates a cap of 100 people in any indoor private event venue, yet the city of Boston issued a superseding order that just 10 people may be in the same room at once. Your company may also have its own rules; and then there’s everyone else, like the contractors and venues.
We’ve found ourselves at several Hilton properties over the years – from the Anatole property in Dallas to downtown Chicago and sunny Orlando. You don’t have to do much digging online to find the procedures Hilton brand hotels are implementing.
Hilton’s EventReady with CleanStay campaign is “a global meetings and events program designed to create event experiences that are clean, flexible, safe and socially responsible,” according to the international chain. On the company’s website, there’s a step-by-step guide for event planners, as well as attendees.
Key takeaways: All foreseeable Hilton events will adhere to Hilton’s ‘CleanStay Standards,’ which focuses on sanitizing and cleaning high touch areas and A/V equipment, contactless check-in and out, social distancing guidelines, food and beverage serving solutions and other safety protocols. For planners, this will include access to ‘EventReady’ resources and best practices for event design and technology.
We’re also frequent fliers of Marriott-owned hotels, including The Westin Copley Place in Boston, The Westin Denver International Airport and Sheraton Boston Hotel. It took a little more effort to find Marriott’s guidelines for event cleanliness, being redirected from hotel website to the Marriott Bonvoy homepage to the Marriott Bonvoy Events standalone site and finally, combing through all the past News & Highlights articles.
That said, we found a well-illustrated roadmap for planners, detailing the process all the way from virtual site inspection to day-of temperature checks to tear down sanitization. Some of the key takeaways: planners should expect a pre-event hygiene and safety briefing, attendees will have their temperature checked upon arrival and those who feel unwell will be isolated. All A/V equipment will be routinely sanitized and pre-packaged meals will be served in designated spaces. Instead of one large bar in the event space, Marriott will provide several smaller ‘satellite’ bars.
Marriott, another international chain, says its cleanliness measures may vary from hotel to hotel, and you should contact the specific venue in mind.
Loews Hotels & Co
Centrifuge has a long-time client based in Atlanta. We’ve also had several other clients gather in The Big Peach throughout the years. Almost all – at one point or another – have opted for a staple of Midtown, the Loews Atlanta Hotel.
Like Hilton, you don’t have to look too far to find Loews’ COVID protocols, although they are not as in depth or aesthetically laid out as the latter two chains.
Loews, which is a U.S. chain, offers up a Safety & Well-Being Protocols list containing a one pager on events and meetings. Nothing within the 10 bullet points is earth-shattering, though, outlining common procedures of social distancing, directional floor markers and spacers, deep cleaning and sanitization and single-servings of food and beverages. Unlike Marriott, Loews says it will serve meals in the same room as the event.
Last in the list of chains we frequent is Hyatt. Intentionally, it found itself at the bottom of this article for a lack of specific events protocols – at least that we could readily find online. So, Centrifuge reached out to two Hyatts: Grand Hyatt DFW, located on the airport grounds and Hyatt Regency O’Hare Chicago, located a stone’s throw from the airport. We’ve worked at both – especially the DFW Hyatt due to its convenient location requiring no ground transportation for attendees.
As of publishing this article, we have not heard back from either.
On its website, Hyatt promotes its Global Care & Cleanliness Commitment, but the only mention of meetings and events falls under the mask requirement section – that face masks must be worn at all times in hotel public indoor spaces, which includes meetings and events spaces.
To be clear, every hotelier mentioned up to this point requires masks at all times while indoors on premises, some in outdoor areas as well. Hyatt, though, states event attendees on Hyatt grounds who are seated and socially distanced may remove their face covering.