Sleek Speaks with London Venues; ExCeL London, etc. venues and The Brewery about their safety and reopening plans.

As the first exhibitions have successfully taken place in Asia and Europe are opening up venues and their hospitality industry for summer, we reached out to some of London’s most popular venues in the corporate, exhibition and meeting event spaces to get insight into their safety plans and how and when they are planning to reopen. 

This week we spoke with:

Andrew Swanston, Head of Sales – Conference & Events for ExCeL London

Adam Simpson, Director of Marketing & US Sales for etc. venues

Simon Lockwood, Marketing Director for The Brewery

 

Andrew Swanston, Head of Sales – Conference & Events for ExCeL London

 

When are you looking to reopen your venue?

Further to the announcement this week, it is great news that the Hospitality and Tourism industry is starting to re-open, however, we are waiting for further government direction when Exhibition and Conference Centres can reopen. 

What safety precautions are you putting in place?

Safety is our number one priority. We’ve been working with the AEV (Association of Event Venues) and other stakeholders to develop an industry-wide benchmark to enable the safe return of organised events. Alongside this, we have developed our own set of guiding principles, which will allow us to reopen safely.

Our clients have ExCeLs’ full support when they’re ready to start running events. We believe that our programme of enhanced measures will provide our customers with the assurance and confidence they need to run organised events in a safe environment, post COVID-19. 

How will you monitor who enters the venue and the health of the delegates entering?

It is likely that ExCeL will be temperature testing everyone who enters the venue, using the latest thermal imaging technology. There will be a Code of Conduct for everyone visiting ExCeL to ensure they understand their role in keeping themselves and everyone else safe. 

How will you implement social distancing and contact/touchpoints?

Produced in partnership with our organisers, we are implementing a risk assessment document to determine the measures that will need to be put in place for each event.

This will include planning, build-up, the open period and breakdown, public transport, queue management, event timings, venue access, and use of technology to minimise touchpoints. Floorplans will need to ensure adequate aisle and stand space for any required social distancing and crowd densities, as well as the set-up of conference areas and meeting rooms. All measures will be based on government guidance at the time.

 We will also be operating with contactless payments, for food and beverage and our Cleaning Team will be trained to deliver new cleaning procedures. This includes ensuring all touchpoints, as well as seating in conference and meeting areas, are regularly wiped with chlorine-based cleaning fluid. 

What capacity will your venue be able to function at?

We have 100,000m2 of flexible space that can be used to accommodate a wide variety of event formats, including options for wider aisles and measures to allow for social distancing. With multiple, distinct entrances, we can easily allow for staggered arrivals and with a wide central boulevard, we can ensure that we host our guests comfortably and safely.

What trends are you seeing for bookings?

We have worked closely with our clients to reschedule dozens of events, from small to large and in the short term, we expect there to be a focus on the domestic market.

Any other news?

The UK Events Industry is one of the biggest success stories, it is worth 70 billion and is the 6th largest industry in the UK, employing over 700,000 people over 25,000 businesses. 

Events, from every sector, will be vital to kick-start the economy, drive business and reignite global trade. Having played our part during the crisis, we want to ensure that we play an equally active role in the nation’s economic recovery.

Never will the need for our industry be greater.  We are extremely proud to be part of a global industry that delivers £1Trillion in economic impact. We cannot wait to work with our clients to get back to doing what we as an industry do best: acting as a catalyst for billions of pounds of import and export activity, resulting in investment, jobs and economic growth.

Our shared optimism about the future will ensure that we work collaboratively with our customers, partners and stakeholders, to come back even stronger.

Adam Simpson, Director of Marketing & US Sales for etc. venues

When are you looking to reopen your venue?

We have been working hard at ticking the boxes and helping answer the questions that come up about how to safely put on events. At this stage, we still hope to host our first smaller events towards the end of July and have larger groups over 100 booked in for Autumn. We will continue to listen to the Government’s advice and ensure we are following safety procedures. 

What safety precaution are you putting in place?

We prepared our plans in mid-May around safety and the best way forward. We have worked with Cleanology and Navitas for over 15 years and over the last couple of months, we have developed a new programme to deliver an even greater level of cleanliness and disinfection within our venues.

We now have the COVID Control Certificate audited by Navitas which ensures our venues have strict controls in place to protect our staff and customers. We were also one of the first companies to launch this programme as part of our 18-Point Plan to ensure clients can book with confidence. 

To us, it is more than just cleaning though. It’s about ensuring the end-to-end procedure is firmly in place and the whole team’s fully trained so that there is a clear understanding onsite of the processes that need to be adhered to. All the protocols need to be easily communicated with clients and anyone else entering the venue. We want to get everyone involved, as we all have our part to play to ensure venue-wide safety. 

How will you monitor who enters the venue and the health of the delegates entering?

We are fortunate to have venues that offer exclusive floors and spaces which are closed to the general public so we can be certain of who is in at any one time. Creating a safe and secure environment is simpler when you do not need to contend with transient guests.

Going beyond our controls, we are ready to work closely with event planners, companies and clients to establish the level of safety that is reassuring for all. For instance, if it’s a booking where the team has worked together for the last month, we can establish a different safety plan compared to a team who hasn’t interacted beforehand. It’s about understanding the client’s specific needs and offering solutions around that. 

How will you implement social distancing and contact/touchpoints?

Our venues can easily adapt between a 1m, 1.5m and 2m distancing rule, we quite like the idea of the 1m plus rule that has recently been published. This has the ability to give more space and distancing (such as a 1.5m or 2m) in larger spaces such as coffee or kitchen areas but in main seating conference spaces having a 1m distance but with a shorter session so you’re not sitting next to anyone for too long.  

We are offering touch-free solutions where possible and minimising touchpoints when it comes to food. We have grab-and-go options such as bento boxes which are pre-loaded from our kitchen team and we will also be offering each individual their own bottled water and hand sanitisers – removing the risks of communal use. 

What capacity will your venue be able to function at?

We currently operate 16 venues with just over 300 rooms. We can offer whole floors instead of single rooms to companies, so that capacity alongside social distancing is not an issue. We also have separate access, direct to our venues so you can enter from the street straight to your event space and that removes the possibility of transient interaction in a lobby or a public space. 

What trends are you seeing for bookings?

We are starting to get a lot of phone calls from clients asking what steps can be taken to have a safe event. There are occupations – such as training providers – that need to provide compulsory training this year – and that’s much easier to achieve safely within our big spaces. As a result, we are starting to take bookings. 

The trend in hybrid events is definitely one that we are encouraging. Maximising your event with a hybrid solution bridges the gap between face-to-face and virtual events. It’s a smart option which enables everyone to attend. 

Any other news?

We have implemented interactive software solutions powered by Glisser for hybrid events. We’ve also added cycle parking at our venues for safe bike storage and to limit Tube use. We want to make it easier for guests – so we’ve looked at numerous ways we can remove the obstacle of ‘how are we going to run a safe event?’ and, instead, offer solutions to ensure events can return as soon and as safe as possible.

Simon Lockwood, Marketing Director for The Brewery.

 

When are you looking to reopen your venue?

We plan on reopening the venue with safety measures in place as soon as we are permitted to do so by the Government. We have events booked to take place from the end of July onwards, and we are confident we will be able to deliver these. 

What safety precaution are you putting in place?

We have created and published a detailed plan for event organisers which outlines the measures we are putting into place. In this document, we have looked at 7 key areas of the event journey at The Brewery and outlined the procedures that we plan to implement to ensure the safety of our customers and staff. You can view the document by clicking here. 

How will you monitor who enters the venue and the health of the delegates entering?

All guests will be required to undergo a temperature check on arrival using a non-invasive thermal imaging system. If the temperature presented is above 38 degrees, entry to the venue will not be granted. Any guest who believes their body temperature has risen naturally due to their method of arrival will be provided with a space to wait, and cool down, before being checked again.

How will you implement social distancing and contact/touchpoints?

We plan to implement the following measures for this:

  •  Hands-Free Access – A newly installed system allows all venue doors to be held open, using automatic floor sensors. This enables touch-free access for guests to all event spaces.
  • Protective Barriers – Perspex screens will be installed in appropriate common areas to help reduce contact between guests and staff members.
  • Signage – Directional, instructive and social distancing signage will be installed across the venue in public areas, toilets and lifts to assist guests as they move around the building.
  • Layout – The scale of The Brewery and the number of event rooms allows events to occupy more space and increase distancing. Organisers will be consulted to discuss options around the layout of their event, with additional space being provided where possible and required. 
  • Ingress/Egress – Separate entrances for guest arrival and departure will be arranged to reduce congestion, and enhance the safe management of people flow.

What capacity will your venue be able to function at?

We are currently working on a revised capacity chart for the venue based on 1m and 2m social distancing being in place. This will limit the capacity of the venue but we are still confident of being able to deliver the majority of our events.

What trends are you seeing for bookings?

We are currently seeing a reduced level of enquiries but with many events looking towards securing space in 2021. With the anticipated increase in demand and the potential limited amount of space for events in 2021 some organisers are looking to plan ahead.  

We are also seeing enquiries for hybrid events, allowing events to take place at the venue and simultaneously online. We plan to create these by using a combination of live streaming from our in-house AV partner, guest participation app Glisser and networking app Grip.  

 

At Sleek, we are working closely with venues, suppliers and clients to make the return of face-to-face events a safe one. #SpeakToSleek about any event queries you may have here