When it comes to in-person events, hotels and event planners are generally of the same mind: let’s get back to it! But, as events re-start in a post-pandemic world, event planners have questions. And hoteliers need to have the answers.
LeAnn Koenig, vice president of operations for VerticalXchange, a B2B private event company, recently hosted two events at The Westin Cape Coral with an average size of 125 in-person attendees at each event. But Koenig knew that not all event attendees would be in person. Some were under travel bans by their companies and some just weren’t comfortable with traveling yet. This meant VerticalXchange would need a lot of bandwidth to ensure their hybrid technologies allowed all virtual attendees access to the same content as in-person attendees.
While Koenig worked with The Westin Cape Coral ahead of time to ensure it would have the bandwidth needed, she was pleasantly surprised when they also ensured one of their own IT personnel was on hand for the first day of her event.
“The tech person was there to make sure their system could handle our event,” she says. “It was very reassuring to know that we wouldn’t have to call customer service and wait in a line for help. Instead, someone was right there, and they did this for us and for our peace of mind. It worked out great! If an attendee told us they were having tech issues, the hotel IT staff member was able to figure out right away if it was a device issue, a router issue or something else. It showed their dedication to us and that they valued us as a client.”
The Westin Cape Coral was also able to work with VerticalXchange to override the mobile app self-check-in and digital key technology. Why would VerticalXchange want to do this? Doing so ensured that event attendees had to come to their registration desk, check-in and have their temperature taken. This was key to ensuring that the event could proceed safely.
The hotel also worked to ensure the event’s safety by implementing extra electronic signage. This helped attendees know where they needed to go and when and prevented confusion and congestion. And The Westin Cape Coral worked to reroute leisure guests who were on property to make sure event guests remained segregated.
How did attendees react?
“During the event, I would say 90% of attendees mentioned how excited they were to be back at a live event,” Koenig said. “I heard many saying: ‘This is the first event I’ve been to in a year,’ Of course, some attendees were more anxious than others and that also meant we had to demonstrate to everyone that we were taking all possible safety precautions while also providing an event that was as ‘normal’ as possible.”