COVID Safe Businesses & Events: How to Keep Your Guests & Employees Secure

How will the future of safety and cleanliness look as we move forward? Global Biorisk Advisory Council (GBAC) Executive Director Patricia Olinger, Hyatt Americas Vice President of Operations Tim Obert, United Service Companies CEO Rick Simon, and GBAC Director Dr. Gavin Macgregor-Skinner discuss the safety procedures that have been created to combat COVID-19. 

Olinger highlights the purpose of the GBAC is to “prepare, respond and recover.” The GBAC was created between 2014 and 2015 due to the Ebola outbreak. Additionally, the current global pandemic has caused new realizations for the GBAC, “we have real concerns and critical shifts,” said Olinger. As a response to the outbreak, the GBAC has created the GBAC STAR accreditation program. This program is a guide to help facilities demonstrate that they can provide specific practices and protocols in combating a pandemic. “We need to be prepared for what’s next and move-on from hygienic cleaning to pandemic awareness,” said Olinger.

Hyatt Hotels are GBAC STAR credited world-wide. In addition to the GBAC STAR credit, Hyatt has started a Global Cleanliness program that has implemented training via the GBAC, a hygiene leader at each property, global face mask coverings, and ensuring every property is engaged in the accreditation program. 

Dr.Macgregor-Skinner weighs in on the importance of GBAC STAR and explains that obtaining this type of accreditation has helped with the approval of local governments. “If your event is following the GBAC protocols, it becomes easier for the local government to give you the green-light to open,” he says.  

There’s uncertainty of what will happen a month from now, but the point to be made is the importance of planning during these current situations. Dr. Macgregor-Skinner expresses that we all need a “peace of mind” and that we’re doing the best we can do. 

Moving forward, we need to get excited when events start happening, but asking the crucial questions of ‘how do we operate to the highest standards?’ and ‘are we protecting our occupants and the buildings?’ Most importantly Dr. Skinner says, is to focus on the health and wellness of our guests and occupants to show that we care. 

What You Need to Know About #HTSOnline

The Hospitality & Tourism Summit is coming at you completely online for its 19th annual year! So, what does that mean? How can a one-day trade show full of tangible experiences pivot to an online experience?

Ateema Media & Marketing, the producers of the summit, have worked hard over the last several months of quarantine to re-imagine the next best alternative. Dubbing this new format as the Hospitality & Tourism Summit Online, all attendees will have the ability to log on and log off at their leisure throughout the week.

The goal for the Hospitality & Tourism Summit is to bring together all industry friends after months of disconnect. The week is built for everyone to pick and choose their own pathway/schedule based on their interests, prior commitments, etc. Ateema has made this "pick and choose" format possible as they will be uploading the recordings of all of the webinars after they are presented live for attendees to watch on-demand. As well, attendees will have access to the trade show floor until next year's summit. They want all attendees to maximize their attendance but also be strategic with the programming you choose to attend live, because you can!

Keep on reading for some common misconceptions about the Hospitality & Tourism Summit Online and how you work around them:

Common Misconception #1: That you have to be online the entire week.

You do not! You can log on and log off based on what is on your personal agenda is each day. It is recommended that you choose a couple of opportunities to attend live each day. The summit has programming that is as short as 45 minutes. Even the longest sessions don't exceed 90 minutes.

Common Misconception #2: If you don't attend everything live, you won't be getting your ticket's worth.

So wrong! All educational sessions will be recorded and placed online for you to view at a later time that works better for you. The trade show floor will be live until April of 2021 so you can go back in at any time and keep browsing all of the exhibitor booths.

Common Misconception #3: Virtual networking is boring and awkward.

Not anymore! The Hospitality & Tourism Summit virtual networking events will be using a lifelike and user-friendly networking software that requires no prior setup on your part. Simply, click a link to enter the networking rooms, "walk-up" to any table, and join the conversation. If you aren't into the conversation or want to find some new people to talk to, leave the conversation just as easily! Live entertainment will also be provided during networking events.

Common Misconception #4: I am furloughed/out of work right now so this won't bring me value.

Switch your mindset! This is the PERFECT time for you to get involved if you are not currently working. At a time when many people in our industry are looking for solutions, trends, timely topics, and predictions for the future, you can say you were a part of those conversations! This is the time to invest in yourself.

CDC's Advice to Planners

Meeting planners have been thrown a few curveballs over the past few months to say the least— from cancelled events and now new restrictions on in-person events. As we continue to adapt to COVID-19, it is crucial that meeting planners are up to date on the latest advice from the CDC in regards to hosting safe in-person events. We know you have many questions, and we are hoping to provide you with some answers based on guidance from the CDC. 

How do you plan for an outbreak at an event?

The first step in planning an event in the COVID-19 era is by developing an emergency plan well before the event. The CDC recommends designating “an administrator or office to be responsible for responding to COVID-19 concerns. All staff and attendees should know who this person or office is and how to contact them.” Be sure to speak with local health officials about the event and have plans in place such as flexible refund policies for those who do not attend the event because they are not feeling well and plenty of supplies such as masks and hand sanitizer. 

How do you prepare staff for the event?

Staff should be trained on all safety protocols. Virtual training is ideal to avoid contact with others, but if in-person training is necessary, make sure social distancing is possible. Consider using the CDC’s Interim Guidance for Businesses and Employers for guidance.

How many people can attend the event?

The CDC does not have a limit on how many people can attend an event, but be sure to check state and local policies on event capacity. Make sure there is plenty of space for event attendees to socially distance at all times, and consider an outdoor space as it is often easy to keep people spread apart and provides better ventilation than an indoor setting. Another way to limit the number of people at an event is by having entry times for staff and attendees.

Do attendees need to be tested for COVID-19 before the event or should their temperature be taken?

Testing all event attendees and staff is not recommended. Temperature screening and questionnaires asking attendees and staff if they have symptoms, have been in contact with anyone known to have the virus, or if they have travelled recently is recommended as long as it does not invade privacy.

How do you make sure attendees social distance at the event?

Hosting smaller events in larger spaces is one way to keep participants spread apart. It also helps to use designated entrances and exits to keep people from running into one another and use signs to indicate which direction guests should be walking. Avoid lines at places like bathrooms or registration areas. Techniques such as online check-in before the event can help to shorten lines and speed up the registration process. If lines are ever necessary, be sure to have signs and markings on the floor to remind people to keep six feet apart.

What can staff and attendees do to limit the spread of COVID-19 at the event?

Be sure that staff and attendees stay home if they are not feeling well as a first step in limiting the spread of COVID-19. Once at the event, be sure handwashing stations and hand sanitizer are easily accessible and that staff and attendees are utilizing these resources often. All staff and attendees should wear a face covering, especially it is not as easy to stay six feet apart from others. 

What is the proper way to sanitize the event space before, during and after the event?

High touch surfaces such as door handles, sinks, drinking fountains and hand railers should be sanitized at least daily or as much as possible during the event. Other shared surfaces like countertops should be disinfected between uses. A cleaning schedule indicating what needs to be cleaned and when can help ensure that proper sanitation occurs during the event.  EPA-approved disinfectants against COVID-19 should be used, but make sure there is proper ventilation so toxic vapors are not inhaled.

How do you safely distribute food at the event?

According to the CDC, “Avoid offering any self-serve food or drink options, such as buffets, salad bars, and drink stations. Consider having pre-packaged boxes or bags for each attendee.”

What do you do if someone develops COVID-19 symptoms at the event?

Immediately separate anyone who develops symptoms at the event and provide them with clean disposable face masks. Close off all areas and disinfect anything the person with symptoms was in contact with. Contact local health officials about the potential case and be sure event attendees and staff are aware of possible exposure to COVID-19. Anyone who was in close contact with the potential case should also be separated. 

How do I know if it is appropriate to cancel the event or not?

If the event space is not going to accommodate social distancing and it is not possible to find a larger space, it may be necessary to cancel the event or move the event online. If a large number of attendees are at higher risk of developing severe COVID-19 symptoms, it may be necessary to cancel or encourage these participants to not attend the event. If there is an outbreak in your community or in communities in which many attendees are coming from it may also be necessary to cancel. Ultimately, be sure to consult with local health officials when making this decision.

For more information, visit the CDC website.

Written By: Kelly Pawlak

How Hotels Can Appeal to Meeting Planners

As the COVID-19 crisis continues and we adjust to this new normal, meeting planners are looking for spaces to safely host in-person events. In Lodging Magazine, VP of Product Development at Knowland Kristi White outlines what meeting planners want from hotels that are reopening. 

Duty of care standards have a new level of importance to meeting planners than before. Whether a hotel has its own DOC standards or is following state regulations, these standards must be made clear to meeting planners. White emphasized that all hotel staff should be comfortable explaining these policies to guests and planners, and these policies should be easily accessible throughout the hotel and online. 

Events are not going to be able to accommodate as many people as before, so as a hotel, it is important to follow local restrictions and requirements customers may have. “Prepare for a variety of options—whether six feet, seven feet, eight feet, or 12 feet of distancing,” White said.

Lower capacity in event spaces essentially means smaller events in larger spaces—potentially resulting in less revenue. White said it is important to work with the hotel’s revenue management team “to better understand how to price and optimize meeting space with the new social distancing guidelines.” A detailed plan for every scenario including room setup and number of rooms required will help sales teams sell events more seamlessly.

Self-serve buffets are not going to be seen at events in the near future, so hotels need to find ways to redesign banquet menus. In an article on Cvent, Megan Boley explains, “Seated dining could be an alternative option, if there are available staff members trained in sanitation and food-handling measures. These extra steps and layers of caution could tack on added cost to F&B, so it’s in the venues’ best interest to offer cost-effective solutions for food and beverage at events.” Pre-packaged meals and individually wrapped items are solutions to buffets, and White says these changes need to be clear in the hotel’s menu and pricing.

No matter what changes hotels make in preparing to host meetings, all changes and precautions must be clearly communicated to meeting planners and customers. Whether this be through email messages, a landing page, or creating an app for meeting planners and event attendees with safety information, all details should be easy to understand and access. White said creating an FAQ page and updating it as new questions come up is another effective way to communicate. It is just as important that sales teams are constantly updated on changes to effectively inform clients when selling events. As White said, “[planners] will want to book with hotels that have taken precautions and extra efforts to ensure their safety.”

Hosting an event at your hotel may require more work than before, but luckily there are ways to safely and successfully host events at hotels during and beyond COVID-19.

Written By: Kelly Pawlak

Three Ways to Host Safe Events Now

The events world has been shaken up for quite a bit now. As the industry progresses through the phases of reopening, there has been one common denominator: safety first...and that will likely be the new standard. Through remaining connected with our industry peers, we found that what almost everyone wants to know is “Of all the work-arounds due to COVID-19, which ones are here to stay forever?”. Until the future of events unravels, here are three ways you can host an event now without compromising the safety of your stakeholders.

1. Try out a hybrid event

While virtual events aren’t going away anytime soon, a hybrid event might be the next stepping stone to ease people back into in-person events. Cannonballing into the pool of pre-COVID events might not set you up for success. Instead, you may find that doing a hybrid event, partially live and partially virtual, is a great way to dip your toes in. For instance, try having your presenter(s) broadcast live at a venue, yet keep attendee participation virtual.

At Virtual Planner Master Class, broadcasted live from The Old Post Office, the Ateema team hosted their event at a venue, just as one would for an in-person event. The main difference was that the presenters were speaking to the attendees through a room equipped with A/V broadcasting capabilities and their outfits included a mask as the finishing touch instead of a name badge. What didn’t change was the wow factor. Jamie Sowski, Marketing & Events Manager for The Old Post Office, was able to have a video production team pre-record their gorgeous and historic event space, play that video during the broadcast, and do a live voice-over just as if she was actually walking potential clients through the venue. 

2. Think unconventionally when working with vendors

Okay, so you may not want to have a medieval-times-feast-style meal for safety reasons. However, that doesn’t mean you have to rule out catering. Whether your event is hybrid or strictly online, catering companies have plenty of creative ways for your attendees to indulge while also keeping them safe.

For virtual events, consider having boxed meals or DIY cooking kits delivered to attendees’ homes. This way, you are bringing the “IRL” factor while eliminating the potential for others (not equipped with PPE and lawfully required to meet sanitization standards) to come in contact with the food. To turn it into a hybrid event, consider broadcasting from a kitchen or bar with a live demo for the attendees to follow along with their goodie boxes delivered prior to the event.

Blue Plate Catering hosted a happy hour after Virtual Planner Master Class where they showcased their deliverable, seasonal offerings, and encouraged attendees to GYOB (grab your own beverage) while watching a mixologist demo their “sealed-with-safety” margaritas.

3. Design strategically for maximum comfort

In addition to the type of hybrid event we mentioned earlier, there are other ways to host a hybrid event. One of those ways is to allow a limited number of attendees to experience the event live with the event host and presenter(s). But before you go crazy with sending out these VIP invites, you need to envision the event design and event flow for maximum safety and respectively, maximum comfort. 

So, how can you grab a venue that permits the ability to socially distance with ease? An answer to this question is outdoor events...bring your guests outside to the openness and fresh air. Or, opt for a large venue. Long gone are the days when a venue says “we've squeezed 100 people in a 500-square-foot room before”. Rooms with spacious floor plans are going to be better received by skeptical guests. It creates a feeling that their personal space is not threatened.

Also, give every guest a way to display their level of comfortability without the awkward do-we-hug-or-do-I-just-wave-hello moment. Support a local printer and create stickers with comical sayings like “Can’t Touch This” or “Free High Fives”. When you create stickers for your attendees, don’t forget stickers for the floor...yes, you read that correctly. Having reminders on the floor that show people which way to walk and how far apart to stand is a great way to plan safe event flow and spatial comfort. 

Written By: Emma McVady

Shipping Solutions if Your Event is Canceled

Amidst the rising concerns of the Coronavirus, it is becoming more common to postpone events with larger groups of attendees. In some extreme cases, event planners have outright canceled award shows. As the global status continues to evolve with further preventative measures, find out what options you may have from your award supplier.

While it is understandable that safety is the most important concern to address, we want to make sure that each award show planner knows that they have choices when it comes to the actual awards shipping.

Drop Ship to Individual Recipients

Likely to be the easiest solution if you find yourself in a bind, drop shipping is the highest recommendation. This is a great way to avoid any headaches with shipping logistics. With this option, the award shipments skip the middleman and will ship directly from the production fulfillment warehouse. Wipe your hands clean knowing you do not have to run around and ship each individual package yourself.

This takes the responsibility off your shoulders for ease of transfer. Also, if the event is in fact canceled, this is a great way for the recipients to still receive their honor right away.

When shipping from Cristaux, our Chicago-based production facility is taking substantial precautions to ensure that we ship each package with the highest quality and care.

Ship Directly to Company Office(s)

Similar to the drop shipping option, shipments to an office, or even multiple office locations, will help eliminate added stress. If an event is postponed and you have the extra space, you can house the inventory internally, or you can deliver the awards personally to the recipients.

This is also an alternative if the award recipients are internal employees. You can hand the awards out to recipients before or after the workday. If there are awards for employees at multiple offices, the process will still work just the same.

Postpone Event and Hold Inventory in Supplier Warehouse

Although this is not the last resort with awards shipping, this option is not ideal because many manufacturers will not have warehouse space to hold excess inventory. You may be lucky enough to have a vendor hold your inventory for an extended period of time. In this instance, your awards supplier will be allotted a holding fee.

This a good alternative if you know that your event will not be postponed for an extensive amount of time. If the show will be eventually rescheduled, this option is ideal. That way, when the time comes, you can ship the awards as normal.

The fee for this can range depending on the supplier, so make sure to get a quote before you decide to go ahead with this option.

Last Resort: Cancel the Order

This may seem like an easy option with awards shipping, but this is the most unfortunate and stress-inducing option for both parties. Not only will this cause a major supplier issue if the order is already in production, but more than likely there is contractual agreement that obligates you to pay a fee if you cancel. Oftentimes this fee is a heavy sum to counteract any supplier costs that incur with your order.

We understand that sometimes this is the only option that has been given. The important item to note is whether or not you will have to start this process again in the future. It might be ideal to be charged a holding fee instead and avoid any future setbacks if the event will resume in a few months.

Article by: Samantha Mikos

Visit Cristaux for the original article and more

Coronavirus: Advice from the Experts

By Maria Lenhart

Coronavirus is pointing up the need for meeting professionals to be prepared, not only for this particular crisis but for any infectious disease outbreak. Industry experts say a wise approach to contracts, insurance coverage, communication and common-sense precautions can minimize the consequences

Force Majeure Clauses

When it comes to protection from a disastrous situation causing a meeting to be cancelled or lose attendance, meetings industry attorneys say the starting point is the Force Majeure clause in any contract with hotels and meeting facilities.

These clauses need to cover every situation outside of the contracting parties that might cause the planner to cancel the meeting, says meetings industry attorney Joshua Grimes of the Grimes Law Offices in Philadelphia. It may also allow for a meeting to be reduced in appropriate circumstances, rather than a total cancellation.

However, Grimes notes that a typical Force Majeure clauses may not fully protect the planner from attrition penalties in the case of a health crisis.

"Some Force Majeure provisions may cover a health concern like coronavirus, but they usually do not contemplate a situation where attendees may not want to travel out of fear of catching an illness that is centered in another location", he says. "Similarly, Force Majeure clauses usually do not anticipate that some attendees may be banned from leaving their countries."

"In these cases, it's crucial for planners to have a dialogue with their hotels and other vendors", he adds.

"If one group is thinking of canceling an event, others probably are as well", Grimes said. "The venues and vendors may have a suggested solution that would work for all involved."

"If no resolution can be found through discussions, the next course of action is to read the contract carefully, preferably with an attorney, to see if there are provisions or nuances that would allow the planner to get some relief", Grimes adds.

For example, if the Force Majeure clause excuses performance in part based on an unforeseen occurrence, the planner may have a contractual right to reduce the event without liability, he says.

Attorney Barbara Dunn, partner at Barnes & Thornberg LLP in Chicago, emphasizes the importance of including a catchall provision in the Force Majeure clause that covers anything that prohibits fulfillment of the meeting.

"For example, the clause may not mention infectious disease, but it does say 'any other cause beyond the party's control'", she says. "We can never list all the specific things that can go wrong."

Insurance Coverage

Purchasing event cancellation insurance is another way to protect against financial loss due to a health crisis or other disaster. Coverage is especially important in the case of meetings and trade shows that are a revenue source for an organization, according to Dunn.

"Many organizations don't purchase it, despite recommendations from lawyers, because of the high premium cost", she said. The reason the cost is high is because the coverage is that good it really underwrites the bottom line revenue for your meeting.

Dunn notes that such policies not only cover cancellation, but reduced attendance. However, she cautions that coverage for terrorist incidents or infectious disease is usually not included in basic premiums, but requires endorsements at added cost.

Plan of Action

Tyra Hilliard, an attorney and expert on meetings risk management issues, stresses the importance of having a crisis plan in place. While many organizations have such plans, she notes that all too often they don't specifically pertain to meetings.

Fortunately, there are resources that meeting planners can use in formulating a plan. Along with consultation with risk management experts, Hilliard recommends visiting the U.S. Government's FEMA website, which offers an emergency response plan template for events. -

Along with formulating a written plan that addresses issues such as emergency response and business continuity, Hilliard says it's essential to work with hotel and security staff from the very beginning.

"You need to ask the right questions of your partners before you get on site," she said. "This should happen at the RFP stage. Make it part of the criteria for choosing partners."

Health Safety Practices

To protect against a health crisis, vetting partners on their sanitation practices and educating attendees on precautions also come into play.

"We all need to ask more of our vendors about what they are doing, not just in regards to the coronavirus but with all flus and other diseases," says meetings educator Joan Eisenstodt. "For example, do they have hand sanitizers, do they provide flu shots for their employees? As planners, we need to ask hard questions and let hotels know how important this is to us."

Event planner and food and beverage consultant Tracy Stuckwrath of Thrive Meetings & Events agrees, adding that planners should learn what they can about housekeeping and food service practices.

"You need to ask hotels about how they keep rooms sanitized, do housekeepers wipe down handles, do they disinfect the rooms in between guests?"she says. "Who on your staff has food safety certification? What are your practices with buffets? Have you taken steps to remind your employees about safe food handling?"

Also important is to remind attendees about the basics of staying healthy, Eisenstodt says.

"A lot of it is the usual stuff which may seem silly but isn't at all-providing hand sanitizer and hospital-grade wipes, reminding people to wash their hands and to refrain from hugging or shaking hands. You can do this with firmness but with some humor from a mainstage."

Communication Plan

When disaster threatens an event, having a strong communications plan in place is also important. According to Stuckrath, there should be a variety of channels in place for communicating information to attendees, before, during and after the meeting.

"You can't just rely on the meetings app-you can't assume everyone has downloaded it," she says. "You'll need to use the website, texting, e-mails, social media-whatever it takes for everyone to get the information they need. This applies not only during the event, but afterwards. Sometimes people get infected during the meeting, but don?t show signs until it?s over. How do you handle that?"

Barbara Dunn recommends enlisting the aid of a public relations or crisis communication expert if circumstances warrant it.

"What we say and how we say it are very important during a crisis," she said. "We need to acknowledge the tragic nature, but we don't want to stoke fear or hysteria. Having someone come across as insensitive could create big problem for the organization. It could spark wildfire on social media."

Reliable Sources

Risk management experts say it is essential to consult trusted sources in the destination and organizations such as the World Health Organization ( and Centers for Disease Control ( rather than simply follow media coverage, which may paint a distorted picture.

PCMA ( is partnering with the Corporate Event Marketing Association ( on a series of interactive webinars over the next few weeks:?

We are partnering with CEMA to announce a series of interactive webinars over the next few weeks to get you what you need. Click the links for more information and to register:

We have also begun working with our leadership, infectious disease experts, regional advisory boards, business partners and our members to define the foundational objectives of our COVID-19 recovery efforts.

Among the many other organizations offering coronavirus guidelines are the National Restaurant Association ( and HUB International (, a risk management services company.

Maria Lenhart is an award-winning writer, editor and content marketer specializing in travel, tourism and the meetings industry. Her work has appeared in over 100 publications.

Coronavirus: Event Planners Discuss Real-Life Dilemmas

By Maria Lenhart

The coronavirus or COVID-19 crisis was the hot topic during roundtable discussions at Ateema Media & Marketing's Meeting Planner Master Class held at San Francisco's Aquarium of the Bay on March 4.

Dealing with postponements and cancellations were of upmost concern for many planners, including Tanika Thacker, event marketing manager for Demandbase, who said the tech marketing firm has cancelled its annual conference, the ABM Innovation Summit, originally scheduled for March 17-18.

"Our leadership is trying to figure out what to do next, to identify the next steps," she said. "This really effects our cadence. Fortunately, we've had a lot of support and our sponsors are hanging in there. We also know we need to calm down a little bit and manage the relevant data."

Benito Aguila, senior global event lead for Wind River, a software company, has already had to deal with headaches stemming from the cancelled Mobile World Congress Barcelona 2020. His company was set to participate in the massive wireless industry show scheduled for late February.

"Fortunately, our vendor has agreed to store our booth for a year, so we won't lose our materials," he said. "However, our hotel contract did not fall under our Force Majeure clause because the organizer pulled the conference and it was not caused by a natural disaster."

Pooja Klebig, regional special events manager for the American Red Cross, said her organization is cancelling upcoming fundraising events and is in a quandary. She herself is "listening to a lot of classical music and trying to stay calm."

Klebig said the big issue now is grappling with potential losses, including those from a tradeshow that had already been booked. "We don't yet know what we have to pay fully for-we're playing it by ear," she said. "Our vendors have been super nice and we're waiting with them. It's out of our hands."

The ramifications of postponement was raised by Lateefah Cavit, strategic meetings manager for Autodesk, Inc. "Someone I know postponed a meeting, but then it ended up too close to another meeting next in the schedule," she said. "So where are the new products to sell at that next event?"

Managing the potential losses from food and entertainment at events that are cancelled at the last minute is another issue. A planner who wished to remain anonymous said she was faced with a major dilemma when an elaborate hotel event for 1,000 people was scrapped at the last minute.

"The chef had ordered the food, including a 275-pound blue fin tuna from Japan that cost $12,000," she said. "I had entertainers already flying in that I couldn't notify. We were told to not rebook the event, so we have to deal with a lot of damages. Fortunately, someone else agreed to buy the tuna."

Other planners lamented the mass hysteria and misinformation that is surrounding the industry at the moment.

James Hobbs, senior director of global programs for Meeting Expectations in Atlanta, said that it is important for meeting planners to 'not try to be medical professionals' but to refer concerned attendees to official sources such as the Centers for Disease Control and the World Health Organization.

"Use your marketing arm to write any communications verbiage," he added. "Be very cautious of anything you put in an email."

Molly Glover, event specialist for the National Accelerator Laboratory, raised the issue of sensitive communication with at-risk attendees and said it was important to have a communications plan in place.

"If you have older people, who are the most susceptible to getting sick, coming to the meeting, how do you tell people to stay home without offending them?" she said. "How do you approach this diplomatically?"

Glover added that in order to minimize risk at upcoming meetings, the laboratory has decided to hold two smaller events rather than one large one.

Many planners said they were taking a closer look at their contracts with hotels and venues, particularly at Force Majeure clauses.

Kara Lee, marketing and events manager at Covington & Burlington, is among them.

"We do a lot of receptions for events, but we don't plan the core conference," she said. "We're now realizing that our contracts have to address our particular situation. Everyone needs to be looking at their contracts. Make sure you have a clause about what happens if the conference is cancelled."

Maria Lenhart is an award-winning writer, editor and content marketer specializing in travel, tourism and the meetings industry. Her work has appeared in over 100 publications.

3 Tips for Maximizing Procurement and Vendor Relationships

The first step in any great event is, well, finding a place to host it! Any good event planner knows that finding the perfect venue and developing a relationship with the venue - s sales team, marketing department, and catering team is imperative to the outcome of the event. We spoke to three successful Chicagoland event planners at PlannerPalooza! and got their best tips for maximizing procurement strategies and vendor relationships.

Details, Details, Details!

Leave no stone unturned - a detailed RFP is your friend says Bailey Shultz, Account Manager for Sourcing at NHS Global Events. Shultz says that a detailed RFP is helpful for a few reasons; in a saturated market, distinguishing your business from others is necessary, too few details make you a less desirable candidate and will not elicit a response, and small details help to determine an accurate budget. Jackie White, Director of Events & Conference Services at Illinois Institute of Technology, says that identifying and including all of the - what ifs - and potential acts of God that could take place in a particular city will help both parties build a strong foundation ahead of an event.

Make It Personal

What better way to build a relationship with a venue than to actually get to know the people behind the title - White says that taking the time to get to know a vendor on a personal level has helped her to build lasting and mutually beneficial professional relationships. Perhaps a sales manager at a catering company just got married or has a birthday coming up; a card in the mail or a small gift is a meaningful and personal touch that will help you remain top of mind in the future. Jay Weidner, Managing Partner at On The Scene noted that taking the extra step in finding what the client truly wants and identifying their objectives will show that you - ve done the due diligence in ensuring the event is successful. Weidner also said that you may find that the client is not always the stakeholder and their ultimate objectives may be different. Get to know the people you - re working with on a more personal level to better define their goals!

Money matters in the event industry! Vendor relationships rely heavily on efficient spending and saving. Weidner says that it - s now more important than ever to find the main items that clients are NOT making money on, and find a workaround to monetize those. Maybe they aren - t making money off of name badges or transportation; a sponsor can offset those costs and either save the client money with in-kind sponsorships or earn money with a paid sponsorship. White suggests finding out if the sales team of one of your vendors is trying to reach a bonus or a perk; if they are, work out a mutually beneficial contract that helps save your client some money and the sales person reach their quota.

Sources: -

Jackie White, Director of Events & Conference Services

Illinois Institute of Technology

Jay Weidner, Managing Partner

On The Scene

Baily Shultz, Account Manager - Sourcing

NHS Global Events