by H. K. Wilson
If 2020 taught us anything, it is to look at the world differently. As we are moving steadily into a post-pandemic environment, we are called to show up newly, with fresh approaches to life and to business. Albert Einstein said, “We can’t solve problems by using the same kind of thinking we used when we created them.” Fortunately, we are part of an industry rich in creative thinkers, people who are solving pandemic-related problems and helping the world make strides toward the future. This week, we salute associations, venues and vendors who are getting us back to business.
Go LIVE Together/ECA Plan for the Safe Reopening of Business Events
Go LIVE Together/ECA partnered with Epistemix, a world leading provider of analytical tools designed to understand the spread of infectious diseases, to model anticipated risk levels for events planned in 2021. Using this model, they are able to:
- Forecast the potential level of immunity at a given date based on historical infection rates at a given location, different assumptions about vaccination rates, and future potential impact of new variants
- Estimate the likely number of infectious people who may attend based on the size of the event and origin of attendees
- Calculate the number of infections we might expect at the event given the range of protective measures that could be implemented
The model yielded the best possible news for the meetings industry. With the health and safety measures the industry has voluntarily adopted, and given current infection and vaccination rates and projections, Epistemix predicts nearly a 0 percent transmission rate of COVID-19 at an event hosting 20,000 people this summer.
Go LIVE Together, through the ECA are now taking these models to the top trade show cities in the country to request reopening plans. This effort comes at a critical time, when state leaders are beginning to define next steps for their local economies — including California Gov. Gavin Newsom, who recently announced his plan for a June 15 reopening. While this is encouraging news, Newsom’s provided plan includes attendee caps and burdensome testing and vaccine-verification requirements that make hosting successful business events all but impossible. These restrictions put California and states with similar guidelines at risk of losing major events—as seen with the American Public Transportation Association’s recent decision to move their event from California to Florida. We are working to help state leaders understand the economic impact of business events, as well as our industry’s unified commitment to adhering to health and safety guidelines and the planning required to produce an event, so that local guidelines can be adjusted to allow us to reopen events across the nation.
Go LIVE Together/ECA are distributing a document demonstrating the importance of business events, along with encouraging evidence of the industry’s ability to reopen safely. They are encouraging industry members to share this information with decision makers in their cities in order to plan for events scheduled months from now. For more info, visit https://drive.google.com/file/d/126xPpUGofoYYQ6Ql5o6PYiG6pPlT8nmd/view.
MGM Resorts Rolls Out Comprehensive Health & Safety Program to Bring Meetings Back to Las Vegas
Following months of trials, MGM Resorts is adding cutting-edge enhancements to its Convene with Confidence program, one of the meeting industry’s most comprehensive health and safety plans, designed to get businesses back to doing business in person.
Now welcoming larger groups in accordance with increased capacity limits in Nevada, MGM Resorts is offering meeting planners the option for on-site rapid, molecular COVID-19 testing delivering highly accurate results for events large and small.
Since pioneering Convene with Confidence in September 2020 with an option for attendee testing in partnership with CLEAR, Cue Health and Impact Health, MGM Resorts has safely hosted close to 300 meetings and groups within the approved size limits using the protocols outlined in the program. Trialing the digital application for entertainment and sporting events, the Vegas Golden Knights recently began using CLEAR’s Health Pass for CDC health survey screening —processing thousands of fans at T-Mobile Arena each game night—demonstrating it is a smooth and efficient process, even at scale.
“Convene with Confidence is a result of close consultation with health experts and our increased focus on leveraging innovation to not only provide a better guest experience—but a safer one as well,” says Bill Hornbuckle (pictured left), MGM Resorts’ CEO and president. “MGM Resorts has long been at the forefront of the rapidly evolving hospitality and events industries. We are confident we’ve built a program that enables companies to meet in person, giving them peace of mind as they do so.”
Stephanie Glanzer (pictured right), MGM Resorts’ senior vice president and chief sales officer, said, “Meetings and conventions are critical to our company and to Las Vegas, in addition to the organizations putting on these programs. Developing Convene with Confidence, a completely customizable program, with multiple options for planners and attendees, reflects our deep commitment to the future health of the meetings industry.”
Convene with Confidence Strategic Partnerships
- MGM Resorts has partnered with CLEAR, the secure identity company, to leverage its Health Pass technology — a mobile app experience that links verified identity with COVID-19 health insights, including a real-time health questionnaire, COVID-19-related test results, temperature checks via integrated kiosks, and soon, the ability to link to COVID-19 vaccination records.
- MGM Resorts has partnered with Cue Health, a healthcare technology company whose easy-to-use, portable COVID-19 test provides lab-quality results directly to connected mobile smart devices in about 20 minutes. The Cue COVID-19 Test for home and over the counter (OTC) use is the nation’s first molecular diagnostic test available without a prescription with emergency use authorization (EUA) from the FDA. This fast and accurate molecular test, which was previously piloted for small groups, is now fully integrated into MGM’s ecosystem and can be administered at scale.
- Tests are administered by Impact Health, a national provider of point of care healthcare services specializing in high-profile and high-volume events. The company is currently used by several federal and state agencies as well as corporate clients across the U.S.
How it Works
- Prior to the event, attendees download the CLEAR mobile app to set up their account and verify their identity.
- Before entering the venue, attendees answer a series of health survey questions.
- Upon arrival, attendees take a molecular or antigen test. Attendees can access results by securely linking their testing account to their Health Pass through the app.
- Attendees have their temperature checked at a kiosk (optional) and scan their QR code to share their health insights. Based on survey answers and test results, users are issued a red or green Health Pass on their app. Green indicates approval for event entry; red indicates further testing and healthcare support may be required.
Convene with Confidence includes a robust catalogue of new options that allow planners to customize their events:
- Virtual Site Visits — Virtual site inspections and pre-planning services are available, including careful planning of event, meal and break times to safely optimize guest movement throughout the meeting space.
- Hybrid Meetings — While many groups begin to return in person, individuals who aren’t ready to travel can take advantage of virtual capabilities coordinated by MGM Resorts’ in-house production team, delivering immersive experiences for all attendees, whether in-person or at home.
- Creative Catering — Mealtime can be a significant challenge for meeting planners, especially for large groups. MGM Resorts has reimagined the catering experience, showcasing the incredible work of its culinary team, but with limited interaction.
- Maximizing Floor Plans — Floor plans have been adjusted to allow for proper physical distancing within all meetings and events whether a larger-scale trade show or a seated conference. With MGM Resorts’ four million square feet of meeting space on the Las Vegas Strip, planners have complete flexibility to customize event layouts.
MGM Resorts has also launched in-room testing at all of its Las Vegas properties for both business and leisure travelers.
Convention business is a critical part of the Las Vegas economy, accounting for 67,600 jobs, $3.1 billion in wages and $11.4 billion in total economic output in 2019. As Vegas readies for the return of major events—including World of Concrete, June 8-10 at the Las Vegas Convention Center, and the International Surface Event, June 16-18 at the Mandalay Bay Convention Center — MGM Resorts, the Strip’s largest operator, is welcoming guests with one of the city’s most advanced health & safety program.
Study Sponsored by Sodexo and Centerplate Reveals F&B Trends in Post-COVID-19 Environment
In order to better understand the needs of today’s event planners, Sodexo and Centerplate commissioned Access Intelligence Research & Consulting for a study of event planner perceptions of F&B services in the U.S.
According to the study, 83 percent of those surveyed said that food and beverage is extremely or very important to the overall success of their event, especially as this service often accounts for approximately one third of an event’s overall budget.
When asked to rank their top providers, Sodexo and Centerplate ranked first for quality, service and proactively satisfying the unique needs of event planners.
Among the key takeaways, event planners revealed that they expect several changes to food and beverage programs when in-person events return. These include a focus on health and safety protocols and cleanliness, touchless services, more pre-made food options, boxed meals, grab-and-go, reduced or eliminated buffets, and innovative packaging and service.
Contact Paul Pettas, Centerplate PR & communications director, at [email protected] for a PDF of study highlights.
On the Road to Recovery is a series about celebrating the innovators, the imagineers and the glass-half-full types who keep finding new opportunities in our topsy-turvy world. If your company has created new products or found a way to pivot and keep working during these difficult and challenging times, please email us at [email protected] for inclusion in future stories in this new weekly series