Ahead of the latest announcement permitting business meetings for up to 1,000 people indoors to restart, the mock gala dinner for 120 people took place at the Bedfordshire-based Resort’s Woodlands Event Centre in accordance with the COVID-Secure guidelines and was observed by officials from Public Health England.
The conference, meetings and training venue was recommended to the Department for Digital, Culture, Media & Sport (DCMS) as part of the mia’s regular liaison, which has also seen the trade association’s roadmap signposted as a key resource in the Government’s and UK Hospitality’s guidance.
The trade association managed the pre-registration work and used its miaTrustedTrace tool to health screen as well as collect and manage delegate details, which included DCMS and Public Health England staff and event industry professionals. It also managed attendee expectations with detailed guidance provided prior to the event and supported the venue with the queuing and registration processes on the day.
Wyboston Lakes Resort’s ‘Safe Events Plan’ was already tried and tested throughout the UK’s first lockdown as the venue remained open to provide facilities for essential training for the National Crime Agency and for paramedics for the NHS and it has been running COVID-Secure meetings for less than 30 people. Key measures already in place at the venue and utilised during the pilot event included thermal imaging technology, test, track and trace data collection, online pre-registration, one-way systems, strict cleaning and sanitising processes and a maximum of three guests per table.
Jane Longhurst, chief executive of the mia, said: “As Wyboston Lakes Resort was the first venue to achieve our enhanced AIM Secure accreditation and has hosted key worker training through the worst of the pandemic, we knew they were well placed to be one of the venues to host the Government’s pilot events. Together we were able to showcase how, by adopting the guidelines and using the relevant tools, the sector can host business meetings and events can in a safe and secure way.”
Steve Jones, managing director of Wyboston Lakes Resort and chair of the Meetings Industry Association (mia), said: “We were delighted to be one of the Government’s pilot events and to be able to test the guidelines that have been developed by the Government with the help of industry associations, including the mia, and to contribute to the reopening of the whole of the events sector.
“We received outstanding feedback on how well it was run and while there were a few learnings for everyone, I think we really showed that the industry has strong, safe and highly effective plans in place and organisers can be confident about booking and arranging business events.
“The industry guidelines and procedures are now tried and tested, ready for 2 December when the Government allows our industry to welcome back business meetings for up to 1,000 people indoors if the venue is located in a region with an appropriate tier.”