As of Sunday, January 31, about 25.2 million people have received at least one dose of a Covid-19 vaccine. In three important ways, the meetings industry is lending a hand with those efforts.
Technology: Vaccine-appointment scheduling has been a challenge from coast to coast. But for the University of Rochester Medical Center, event-management technology created by Cvent is essential in its efforts to schedule 15,000 frontline health workers for their Covid shots. URMC, already a Cvent client, was able to launch a Cvent-based registration website with customized branding, privacy settings, and reporting as well as the ability to set daily capacity limits on the number of people who could sign up to be vaccinated. On site, the URMC team will use Cvent’s OnArrival tool for hands-free check in. “Throughout this pandemic, we have seen our event technology being leveraged in new and creative ways,” said Patrick Smith, chief marketing officer at Cvent, “and we applaud the URMC team for recognizing the opportunity for technology to help make large-scale vaccination efforts safe and efficient.”
Facilities: Convention centers are often called on to make their large open spaces available as a shelter after floods, fires, or other disasters. The Covid crisis has required a whole other level of commitment. Convention centers have done yeoman’s work acting as surge-capacity hospitals, and now many are being asked to serve as mass-vaccination sites. Among the many facilities that are stepping up are Wisconsin Center in Milwaukee; Music City Center in Nashville, Dallas Convention Center, Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, and TFC Center in Detroit.
Hotels are ready to get in on the efforts as well. Chip Rogers, president and CEO of the American Hotel & Lodging Association, sent a letter to the Biden-Harris transition team shortly before the presidential inauguration arguing the case for using hotels for the vaccination initiatives. “By quickly mobilizing an existing network of sites,” he wrote, “hotels can help strengthen the delivery and distribution of the Covid-19 vaccine in communities across the country to better streamline and build on current state efforts.” A number of hotels are already being used, for example, Disneyland Resort in Anaheim, Calif.; Encore in Las Vegas; DoubleTree by Hilton in Danvers, Mass.; Hotel Live! Casino & Hotel in Hanover, Md.; and Heldrich Hotel and Conference Center in New Brunswick, N.J.
Advocacy: When industry associations take a stand, it makes a difference to members and others within their circle of influence. The Global Business Travel Association is one organization that has spoken up for expanding vaccination programs as part of an effort to help the business travel industry get back on its feet. It also argues for more Covid testing and standardized travel requirements. “These measures put in place to mitigate risk, protect travelers, and prevent the spread of Covid-19 and its variants should continue to be science-based and strike the appropriate balance between public health and protecting the global economy,” writes Dave Hilfman, GBTA interim executive director. He argues against quarantines for international travelers because of their limited effectiveness.