Uncertainty surrounds the future of the business event and hospitality sector and when things may get back to some sense of normality.
Be that as it may, hoteliers and venue operators around the country are busy preparing for that time. In this ongoing series ‘come back plan’, we asked some what they’re doing.
First up is Hamilton Island. Keep reading to find out what the team has been up to behind the scenes during COVID and what they’ve got planned for the future.
NAME: Julie Ford
BUSINESS NAME (HOTEL/VENUE/SUPPLIER): Hamilton Island
POSITION: director, business events sales
What are you working on right now in anticipation of a return of events?
As a resort (re-opening August 1), we are training all staff and setting up the island as part of our Stay Well Program. This includes all new signage throughout the resort, info on website, our APP and to all booked guests and setting up procedures from arrival into the airport (temperature checks), to check in, to restaurant dining. From an events-specific point of view, we’ve developed new capacity guidelines for private venues, traffic flow areas and new menu offerings to minimise contact. We are lucky we have a variety of large spaces and can therefore accommodate groups of up to 250 while the 4 sqm rule is in place.
What’s one lesson you have learnt during the COVID-19 lockdown period?
The value of social connection and community, whether it be staying in contact via Zoom , phone or checking in on neighbours. Also appreciating your environment – there are certainly worse places to be in lock down than in this beautiful country of ours!
What do you value more now than you may have pre-COVID-19?
Freedom to travel, jumping on a plane!
How do you think events will change in the future?
Safety will be more of a consideration, as well as reputation, peace of mind to be able to select a venue or destination that can offer security, variety and flexibility. In the short term, it will give Australian products and destinations a chance to shine and demonstrate that we can provide world class experiences.
Why are events important?
I’ve always said you cannot underestimate the value of face to face meetings. You just cannot build as much rapport via email/phone or web! We are finding now more than ever, it’s not just about education, but corporates want to THANK their staff for hard work during the challenges of COVID-19 and time and again, research shows that travel is seen as more of an incentive than cash or gift vouchers. Especially when that travel is to an inspiring destination with a group and having fun events and dinners. The connection of the group elevates the experience to a higher level than an individual experience.