The new reality for in-person meetings and events is coming into focus. While gatherings were cancelled or went virtual during the first few months of the COVID-19 pandemic, states are now slowly beginning to reopen and move toward a return to in-person gatherings. Associated Luxury Hotels International, or ALHI, published safety recommendations for planners, hotels, airlines and more, as society begins to formulate safety guidelines for travel, tourism, meetings and events.
ALHI’s Back to Business Travel Safety Guidelines begin by highlighting priorities for travel, including enhanced sanitation, health screening, creating transmission barriers and following food and beverage guidelines. Specific tasks include social distancing, frequent hand washing, schedules centered around sanitizing and more.
With those considerations as a baseline, ALHI recommends that planners should incorporate thoughts about geometry, density and division when it comes to meetings and events. Planners should seat attendees at 90-degree angles and reduce “pinch points” by illustrating one-way walking paths. If attendees are seated all facing the same way toward a speaker, six feet of distance should be left between chairs on all sides. Dividing spaces with movable barriers such as plants, whiteboards or screens also helps to stem the spread of germs.
For hotels, ALHI recommends reducing the amount of furniture in lobbies, which should discourage gatherings of people, while also reducing the number of surfaces needed to be frequently sanitized. Implementing digital room keys and virtual check-in reduces person-to-person contact and the spread of germs. Putting in place maximum occupancies for elevators limits the number of people in confined spaces. Guests should have the option to refuse housekeeping services to minimize their chance of exposure. Finally, widened cancellation policies allow guests who feel sick to be responsible and cancel reservations without consequences.
While these guidelines are for meetings and events planners, hotels, and other travel industries, they are also meant to help people feel more secure while traveling once again. To read ALHI’s comprehensive list of recommendations, visit the group's website.