HBAA launches ‘Meet Safe, Meet Smart 30’ campaign

UK: HBAA, the trade association for the hotel booking agency, apartment and venue community, is launching a campaign to rebuild confidence among planners and to communicate and support government regulations.

The campaign has been created following research by HBAA that revealed 71 per cent of respondents had concerns over employee and delegate safety.

65 per cent stated they are only running online meetings and events in the foreseeable future, with almost all the other respondents organising virtual or hybrid meetings. 

Among the responses were confusion over government guidance, as well as a lack of understanding and confidence in the measures taken at venues.

The campaign is free to participate for both the venues and agencies to promote. It will aim to provide facts, drive confidence, and showcase that booking permitted venues offer delegates tangible reassurances.

Juliet Price, consultant executive director at HBAA, said: “It is clear from our survey that there is a long way to go in terms of customers understanding and appreciating how compliant the vast majority of venues really are when it comes to Covid-19 protocols, and also that the current government guidance supports off-site meetings for up to 30 people. ‘Meet Safe, Meet Smart’ aims to deliver on both fronts and drive confidence while demonstrating why people want to meet – and should meet – shoulder to shoulder – in line with the prescribed measures.

“There are many reasons why meeting in person is absolutely essential,” continued Price, “from productivity to creativity, to positive mental health. However, we completely appreciate and acknowledge that that we must follow the government guidelines which are subject to rapid change, aligned to infection rates. Our industry must continue to unite to build customer confidence in resuming booking and attending small live business meetings, as these will pave the way for the eventual return of safe and secure larger live events in the future.”

Guy Mason, managing director of Brief2Event, said: “The ongoing COVID-19 pandemic has decimated the business meetings and events industry in an unimaginable way. The confusion in the marketplace regarding permitted numbers is stopping planners from having the confidence to even contemplate any sort of meeting or event.

“Venues, organisers, delegates and councils all need to know permitted delegate numbers as soon as guidance is announced or changes. Daily we are arguing with venues that are given false information from local councils regarding numbers of delegates. With more than 70 per cent of all meetings being for 30 delegates or less, clarity is essential. This HBAA campaign is leading the way to rectify perceptions and get the industry back up and running.”

Michael Begley, managing director of VenueDirectory, which operates a Safe Meetings database, added: “Our database showcases over 20,000 venues that have implemented comprehensive Covid-safe policies and procedures so there is a vast choice of Covid-secure venues nationwide.”

Lynn Fraser, sales director of Village Hotels, stated: “Village Hotels is delighted to be part of the Meet Safe, Meet Smart campaign. Whilst it is far from ‘business as usual’, we are proud to offer a safe place for our guests, delegates and clients to meet and work. As you’d expect, we’ve had to adapt and we’ve undergone some big changes over the last few months.

“We’ve reviewed every step of the customer journey, from a booker and a delegate’s perspective and we’ve adopted a host of new measures from enhanced cleaning regimes, new room layouts, virtual showrounds and new food packages – all with the aim of keeping our clients, guests and teams safe. We have to try and get back to some kind of normal, albeit a different one than we’re used to, and we’re committed to making sure our clients feel safe when dealing with us and have confidence to book.”

The full Meet Safe Meet Smart survey report from HBAA is now available to download here.

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