With some states relaxing their coronavirus-related restrictions on group gatherings, reports are coming in from a few destinations that business meetings are taking place again. Michael Massari, chief sales officer for Caesars Entertainment, wrote a June 17 post on LinkedIn that said, “This week at Caesars Palace we are hosting our first meeting in three months.”
A week before that, however, The Shores Resort & Spa in Daytona Beach, Fla., accommodated a group of approximately 50 deputy sheriffs from across Florida for a three-day legal training program. Staffers at the 212-room hotel set up a 3,100-square-foot room classroom-style in a chevron formation for the 50 attendees (photo above). Lisa Crosby, director of sales for The Shores, says that the room typically holds up to 190 attendees that way.
As for the overall landscape, “all our employees wore masks and some attendees did as well; doing so was optional at that time.” Given the spike in coronavirus cases across the state this past week, though, all Florida counties have now mandated that people wear masks when inside buildings open to the public and in offices. “Attendees were very respectful of the situation and kept their distance from others. We got no pushback at all on the rules we implemented,” says Crosby. “We have lots of sanitation stations plus signage and stickers in public spaces reminding people to be respectful, especially with elevator etiquette.” The hotel allows only four people per car; some attendees opted to wait until they could ride alone.
The meeting organizer chose not to provide catering, so attendees had a 90-minute break for lunch where they could venture outside. Alternatively, “we have an on-site marketplace with grab-and-go meals prepared, and we delivered some of those to guest rooms as well,” Crosby says.
Aside from earning much-needed revenue, Crosby notes that “we were very happy to host the meeting because it gave us a feel of what it will be like to go forward in the new environment.” Even though attendance was expected to be more than 100 before the pandemic, “the client was happy with how things went under the circumstances, and participants said they felt safe.” Even so, “right now we don’t have any other meetings on the books until September.”
To counter that situation, “it would be good if other hotels that are starting to host meetings again share their experiences on social media and make people more confident to meet,” Crosby says. “Groups will meet in smaller numbers for a while, but they can be safe.”