By Laura Bradley

In recent months we’ve heard a lot about the hygiene measures hospitality brands have introduced in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. Last week, myself and other MICE media members witnessed an example first-hand.

Gathering by the entrance to Marble Bar at Hilton Sydney, attendees at the Hilton EventReady with CleanStay media event learnt about Hilton CleanStay, the company’s health and safety protocols that were launched in July this year. A global program spanning its 18 brands, CleanStay sees hotels thoroughly disinfected with hospital-grade cleaning products, ensuring a safe guest experience from check-in to check-out.

Born from this initiative was Hilton EventReady, a comprehensive cleanliness and disinfection program developed to assure meeting planners and delegates that their event with Hilton will be safe and hygienic.

Addressing the assembled media, commercial director for Hilton Sydney Blair Weir explained that prior to a Hilton EventReady event, meeting rooms are thoroughly cleaned before key touchpoints are checked by a supervisor. These touchpoints include tables; chairs; door pulls; thermostat and lighting controls; window shade and drape controls; room phones; stationary room furniture; podium and stage items; audio-visual equipment and sanitising stations.

Once these high touch areas have been deemed clean, the room is sealed up until the commencement of the event. Blair’s explanation was followed by the commencement of our event, and he proceeded to open the doors to Marble Bar, breaking the seal and revealing a room with enchanting mood lighting, AV screens and socially-distanced tables with separate water bottles. This set up can be arranged for groups visiting Hilton Sydney, with Blair indicating that the hotel has a “reasonable pipeline of events for next year.”

Vice President, operations, Australasia for Hilton Heidi Kunkel took to the podium to update the media about what Hilton has been up to of late. It turns out Brand Finance named Hilton the Most Valuable Brand Portfolio this year (lending credibility to the EventReady program), and quite a few Hilton hotels are in the pipeline for Australasia over the next five years. These include DoubleTree by Hilton Perth Waterfront, Hilton Melbourne Little Queen Street and Hilton Garden Inn Albany.

Following Heidi’s talk, senior director, commercial, Australasia for Hilton Shaizeen Contractor expanded upon the EventReady program. Shaizeen explained that in addition to elevated hygiene standards, EventReady offers flexibility in terms of pricing, spaces and contract terms, as well as safety and social responsibility around physical distancing, individually portioned food with the option of eco-friendly packaging, sanitising stations and contact-less check-in options.

The Hilton EventReady with CleanStay media event was capped off with lunch in the revered Glass Brasserie on level two of the hotel. As everyone who has had the pleasure of dining in Glass will know, the food was remarkable and the service impeccable. I opted for the lamb loin with carrot hummus, eggplant, broad beans chimichurri and labneh, followed by a gooey dark chocolate tart with caramel, banana, pecan and popcorn. This was washed down with a watermelon mojito mocktail which the waitstaff kindly made for me.

Great conversation and laughs ensued, once again demonstrating the irreplaceability of in-person events. Well done, Hilton, and I can’t wait to write about some of your EventReady conferences and meetings in the new year.