The Return of Hotel Event Business Will Require Adaptation & Ingenuity
Hotel event business is beginning to make a comeback, albeit a small one. To encourage more event business in Q420 and Q121, some hotels are getting really creative with their use of technology.
Recently, LondonHouse Chicago, a luxury lifestyle hotel, launched “hotel bubbles” where leisure and professional groups (up to 50 maximum) have a dedicated room floor and private stairwells to meeting/event spaces for enhanced privacy. No other hotel guests can access the dedicated floor or staircases throughout the group’s stay. Other offerings include sanitizing stations and food and beverage that is customized per person and individually served instead of a more traditional buffet.
Where did the inspiration for these “bubbles” come from? The NBA’s success creating a bubble for teams in Orlando, says Don Barnett, Director of Sales & Marketing.
To provide guests with a great event experience, LondonHouse Chicago first provides them with a digital key and digital check-in so that guests can bypass the front desk and go directly to their room. It also uses Kipsu to allow guests and hotel staff to communicate via text.
Meanwhile, behind the scenes, LondonHouse Chicago has ensured that guests for a specific event are grouped together in rooms that share the same floor as their event space. If not all of the guestrooms are used up by the event, they are put out of order.
Additionally, luxury boutique Godfrey Hotel Boston rolled out “micro meeting” capabilities for reduced capacity for up to ten guests total. These meetings are perfect for smaller professional groups seeking face-to-face interaction in a safe way.
“As a boutique hotel without a lot of meeting space we have always known that our competitive advantage is in our ability to offer flexible, highly tailored service as opposed to hosting huge, arguably cookie-cutter events,” said Paul Sauceda, Corporate Director of Sales & Marketing for The Godfrey Hotel Boston. “We realized that, out of necessity, meetings are going to be smaller for the foreseeable future and come with a new list of requirements like space for social distancing.”
To ensure guest safety, the hotel employs temporal distancing – leaving a minimum of 48 hours between use of meeting spaces. Additionally, every touchable surface in the entire space is “meticulously” clean and sanitized: first by hand and then by using an electrostatic sanitizing sprayer.
“The advantage of electrostatic spray is that the very fine sanitizing particles get into all the little nooks and crannies as well as broad surfaces like walls and floors. Once they touch the surface they adhere and will continue to sanitize for up to 72 hours,” Sauceda adds.
As a final layer of protection, the hotel has installed large UVC lights which have the ability to kill viruses as effectively as sanitizers. These lights have been installed in the ventilation systems. The air in the meeting spaces is constantly circulate out of the room and replaced with “freshly UVC sanitized air.”
Additionally, the hotel allows event attendees to order beverages and light fare from George Howell Café on the hotel’s first floor using a mobile app. The items can be picked up from the lobby.
“We don't want anyone to get sick,” Sauceda says. “Technology such as online check-in, payment, and food ordering allow us to go about our lives and business in a way that is somewhat "normal." The risks from activities as simple as handing a credit card to a hotel receptionist may be too great for certain people based on their age or health. Contactless technology provides the safe environment we need to get back out there and live our lives. Why not do everything we possibly can to ensure everyone's safety while keeping life and the economy moving?”