To Go or Not To Go… That was our question.
After much consideration, we decided that it was important for us to participate in the Annual Connect 2020 Marketplace last week so that we could learn, first hand, various ways to implement new safety protocols and procedures as we move forward with in-person events. We can’t expect our clients to be comfortable traveling if we, ourselves, have reservations.
This annual event brings together meeting and incentive planners, hoteliers, convention and visitors bureaus, and a plethora of other industry suppliers for two days of conversation and education. The goal at Connect 2020 was to bring back the soul of live events and to help our industry and our clients get back to business in the safest and most comfortable way possible.
From being required to sign wellness releases to daily temperature checks and a zero-tolerance policy on mask-wearing, it was clear from the beginning that the well-being of the attendees and the hotel staff were the on the forefront of this event. This was important for us, as the event brought together 1,000 in-person attendees at the Orlando World Center Marriott.
Among the biggest lessons learned is that this year’s event proved, yet again, we are only as good as our partners and participants. Many steps were taken to allow business to comfortably occur:
- In a new education setup, sessions that would usually take place in the hotel’s smaller meeting rooms occurred in large ballrooms.What about the noise carry-over from stage to stage, you ask? There was none, thanks to the addition of headphones from Quiet Events! Not only was this fun and innovative, but the headphones made you feel like the presenter was speaking directly to you.
- Tables for one-on-one appointments were set up lengthwise and conversations were had at 10-12 feet of distance.
- Food stations were scattered throughout so long lines and logjams could be avoided. The same went for pre-made drinks, as well as White Claw Hard Seltzers that were set out for grab and go self-service to avoid crowding at bar stations.
- The trade show was spread out across the 39,000-sq.-ft. Crystal Ballroom. Many exhibitors noted their appreciation for the spaced-out booths and wider aisles so that large groups of attendees never felt cramped or congregated in one area.
- Plenty of masks were available on-site via swag bags, vendors in the trade show and a Connect mask giveaway, which donated $10 to great causes for every procured mask.
Does that mean everything went perfectly? Of course not. All of us who produce conferences and events know that it is virtually impossible to not have any hiccups. But, as we begin to relaunch meetings, we now have a working template which we can modify to fit the needs and desires of our clients. And although no one can guarantee 100% safety, the steps that we take moving forward will undoubtedly help keep attendees safer and will allow them to feel more comfortable.
Just know that when you’re ready to meet mask-to-mask, we are ready to make it happen for you!
Let’s do this!