Saturday, December 4, 2021
The MICE industry and the business events sector have been largely disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. However, after months of struggle the world has started taking steps towards an eventual recovery from the impact of the virus outbreak. Although countries around the globe have been successful in battling the challenges posed by COVID-19 and are considering to restart events, it is inevitable that the face of MICE tourism and events will change in the post-pandemic world.
At present, safety is the major factor to be considered while contemplating the reopening of the events sector. In a world where people would still be affected with the doubts and fears of coronavirus, event planners and organisers have to give utmost priority towards safety and security of guests and employees. In this article, we discuss some necessary safety measures that would be important for the MICE industry and events sector in the post-COVID world.
Perhaps the most mandatory safety measure that has already been undertaken by the MICE industry and might be a norm in the future too is social distancing. Observing physical distancing during events and while inside venues is an important aspect of the new normal. Several countries like Malaysia, Thailand and Dubai among others have already opened up MICE tourism sector but with rules that ensure proper social distancing. The U.S. government has also released guidelines for its MICE sector that has made it mandatory to observe a distance of six feet among event attendees. Social distancing would also mean that event organisers have to opt for larger venues with a revised seating arrangement that enables physical distancing in the near future. They can also use the taped floor technique to mark the seating or standing area for maintaining a distance between each individual.
The U.K. government has already published updated guidelines that makeusage of face covering compulsory for every individual inside an event venue where social distancing is not possible. Similarly, many other countries have also made it compulsory for event participants and staff to wear face masks or face coverings. Face coverings help to reduce the risk of virus transmission and would certainly play a key role in maintaining safety and hygiene in MICE venues.
Another expected norm of the post-COVID era would be temperature checking. Numerous corporate and event venues have already started the process of thermal screening to detect body temperature of individuals entering a particular venue. It is likely that the whole MICE sector would gradually introduce temperature screening at the entrance of event venues as it can provide enhanced protection by detecting individuals having high body temperature and showing symptoms.
SANITISATION AND HYGIENE
Maintenance of hygiene and cleanliness has been considered as the major steps to fight against the coronavirus disease. Therefore, it would be highly essential for conference and event venues to install sanitisation booths and handwashing stations with proper signage and instructions. Organisers should make sure to encourage invitees to wash their hands and sanitise themselves before the start of any event.
Convention or exhibition centres as well as events and meetings venues should also make sure to regularly decontaminate and properly sanitise high traffic areas and surfaces. Once more destinations open for business and organise on-site events, it would be essential to clean the site as well as equipment on a daily basis. Sanitisation and decontamination of venue in between breaks might also be noticed in future.
Event venues and conference centres should also be equipped with isolation or triage rooms in order to isolate any guest or crew if they showcase any symptoms or fall sick during an event. As more people start showing up in event venues once the COVID situation gets better, organisers have to be conscious about handling emergency health conditions.
FOOD AND BEVERAGES
Most event organisers often prefer providing snacks and beverages during an event, majority of which are self-serving buffets. However, catering options have to undergo a change in the post-pandemic scene. Usage of packaged foods and disposable dishes are being entertained for the future with renewed space plan allotted for seated dining options keeping in mind physical distancing norms.
GUIDELINES AND TRAINING
It would also be necessary for event planners to introduce proper safety guidelines and protocols that should be readily available for both staff and guests. Proper training to organise safe and socially distanced events should also be provided to employees of the venue.
VIRTUAL MEETINGS AND EVENTS
Virtual meetings and events have been at the forefront of the MICE industry ever since the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic. With so many business events and activities going digital, it can be said that virtualisation will play an important role in the future. Most event organisers are likely to take up virtual alternatives of live events in order to maintain safety even after the pandemic is over. Moreover, travel restrictions and stringent border measures might also encourage the concept of hybrid events further.