Written by Ross Millward
Ross enjoyed a virtual catch up this week with several prominent contacts from Hilton Global, to discuss how venues are managing the ever-changing Covid precautions and restrictions. The general consensus is that new enquiries are definitely starting to return and that venues are successfully adapting to client’s evolving requirements.
Did you know that 60 Hilton properties (across Europe, Middle East and Africa) can offset the carbon footprint of meetings with over 10 delegates at no cost to the organiser? While the ‘Meetings Simplified’ package allows meetings of up to 35 delegates to be cancelled with no charge up to 24 hours prior – allowing peace of mind for event booking in the unlikely case of further government restrictions. Hybrid events (a mix of live and virtual attendees) are proving popular as an alternative to 100% live audience events, while smaller regional meetings can be a temporary substitute for larger global ones.
Within the venue, cleanliness is of paramount importance, with constant focus (and a visual cleaning staff presence) on major contact points such as door handles and lift buttons (Cleaning protocols are detailed within the Hilton EventReady with CleanStay on-line playbook).
Clients are asking for flexible food options (bento boxes, individually portioned buffets), but there is complete willingness to work with the client’s bespoke catering requirements. Dedicated areas are now being assigned for group lunches, and catering breaks are staggered to avoid different groups mixing.
Function rooms have a ‘clean door seal’ so clients know their private spaces have been thoroughly cleansed and ventilated before delegates enter the room, and venues are being more creative with their usage of event space – both inside and outside!
Hilton team members are asked to follow government guidelines and take lateral flow tests where possible (while delegates are currently only required to wear face masks when passing through public spaces).
We can agree that we are all seeing a surge of new enquires for the last 2 quarters of 2021 as well as Quarters 1 & 2 of next year. A potential (but positive) issue is the ‘Bottleneck effect’, where demand for event space will soon outstrip supply, as restrictions ease and a flurry of companies all require conferences at the same time (the current backlog of weddings also creating a demand for venue availability). Therefore, we are encouraging our clients to advise us of any upcoming events for this year and next) so we can hold space while it is available.
It certainly seems that a sense of ‘Pandemic fatigue’ is now setting in. Covid safety precautions are now so normal and expected that people just want to run their events regardless, as long as venues have clear hygiene measures in place.