Vienna, Virginia – Many in the hospitality and events industry are looking toward the future and trying to predict what events will look like, but there are still many unknowns. However, one thing is for sure: Events are returning. In an effort to support events at its properties and enhance the experience for virtual attendees, Southern Management Companies (Southern), announced that its hotel division will offer comprehensive hybrid meeting packages, which will merge in-person and online audiences for a seamless attendee experience.
Each of Southern’s properties—The Hotel at the University of Maryland, Cambria Hotel College Park, The Hotel at Arundel Preserve, and Bear Creek Mountain Resort and Conference Center—will offer hybrid meeting packages that can be customized by the audio-visual team based on the needs of each client. The packages provide the base equipment and necessary technicians to execute a shared experience for virtual and in-person attendees, with or without breakout rooms.
“Hybrid meetings are here to stay. We’re excited to be at the forefront of the industry by offering our clients affordable and unique options to engage all guests,” said Jeff Brainard, vice president, sales and marketing for Southern. “From 500-person conferences to 50-person meetings, our team is equipped with the tools to help bring events to life—no matter the audience size or location of attendees.”
Each of the packages varies slightly to accommodate client needs but will include: audio-visual equipment, such as screens and projectors; “confidence monitors;” HD video switchers; PTZ cameras and control units; 12-channel audio mixers; microphones (including a wired podium); lavalier and wireless handheld mics; audio and video technicians; and high-speed internet connections. Additionally, clients can opt to have hotels use their Zoom licenses and digital room set-up tools, which will provide access to an audio-visual team that will work with the client to set up meeting rooms and breakout options, as well as assign remote personnel to each room.
“The hybrid meeting packages complement our EVENT Strong initiative by reinforcing our commitment to exceptional service and experiences for all attendees. Now, not only are we able to safely welcome attendees to face-to-face meetings and events, but we can deliver a cohesive experience for all guests, whether they are at our property or participating from anywhere around the world,” Brainard added.
EVENT Strong is Southern’s comprehensive plan to safely host meetings, social gatherings, and events of various sizes. EVENT Strong is based on four specific areas of focus:
- Ever Strong: This company-wide program is the foundation for health and safety protocols at all Southern properties. Ever Strong follows state and local guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and outlines key procedures for all areas of hotel operations (including sales and conference services), cleaning and sanitizing, physical distancing, and face coverings.
- Environmental systems: An essential component of client and team member health and safety is the advanced HVAC technology in Southern’s hotels and resorts. These systems include enhanced air filtering, which allows for both automatically and manually controlled air exchange that reduces airborne particles, and aerosols. Additionally, each property has control systems for regulating airflow and circulation in event and pre-function areas. Advanced filtering and sanitizing capabilities, which vary by property, include automated CO2 monitoring, UV-C light sterilization, and remote sensing and adjustment to ensure optimal air exchange. The meeting spaces have multiple units that work together to provide customizable settings for different programs based on client needs.
- Technology: Customized audio-visual solutions accommodate hybrid meetings that combine in-person and remote capabilities. Multi-room, on-site broadcasting allows hosts to limit occupancy in individual spaces while accommodating larger group sizes.
- Food and beverage: Recognizing that food and beverage is an essential part of every successful meeting and event, Southern’s culinary and banquet service teams have expanded offerings to comply with the latest CDC guidelines. These changes include replacing all self-service buffets and stations with alternative service methods, including carefully served chef-attended stations, which are well-spaced and safely executed. Culinary team members wear appropriate PPE with physical safeguards in place.
Team members at each of Southern’s properties have received training on COVID-19 safety and sanitation protocols, with more comprehensive training for those who frequently have contact with guests, including housekeeping, food and beverage, hotel operations, engineering, and security. Action plans are in place and team members are trained on how to respond swiftly to any reported cases of COVID-19 on-property.