With more and more people getting vaccinated, companies are starting to think about how they can begin in-person meetings again and how they can do it safely.
No one wants to see that more than the hospitality industry, which lost a major source of revenue from cancelled meetings and events over the past year.
But how do you accommodate large crowds of people in a safe manner? More importantly, how do you accommodate those who still don’t feel safe attending events or can’t get there for other reasons?
Bear Creek Resort in Longswamp Township has responded to that challenge by launching a new hybrid meeting package that makes sure guests in attendance, or logging in remotely, can get a quality, interactive experience.
Jeff Brainard, vice president of sales and marketing for Southern Management Companies, which runs Bear Creek, said the offering is an extension of its COVID-19 safety protocols that were put in place more than a year ago.
Basics like improved air filtration and spacing were the first thing they tackled, as well as added cleaning and training in safety protocols for staff.
They’ve even made changes to how food is served. These include replacing all self-service buffets and stations with alternative service methods, including carefully served chef-attended stations, which are spaced safely.
But technology also plays a role in making sure that all event, meeting or gala attendees feel included. That means using quality audio and visual equipment and Zoom meeting technology.
The resorts also have experts on staff to make sure all the technology is working properly and to help companies get set up the right way.
“It’s important for people to come back, but it’s also important to include people who can’t,” Brainard said.
He said for business meeting or training sessions, Bear Creek can accommodate up to 100 people that are linked in and can communicate as if they were actually in the room with the in-person attendees.
For galas and presentations, the resort can have a presentation that goes out to a hybrid audience of up to 500 people.
“We want businesses to be able to fully engage people no matter where they physically are,” Brainard said.
He said while the event business is nowhere near the volume it was pre-pandemic, Bear Creek is starting to host meetings more often, with even more inquiries from companies looking to schedule events in the third and fourth quarter of the year.
“Meetings are so important to business,” Brainard said. “We know companies see the value of meeting in person. It’s nice to see that type of activity come back.