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The new reality for… CONVENTION CENTRES

Vancouver Convention Centre

by Laura Bickle

As the industry ponders what reopening will look like, every segment has it own unique challenges. Each week we will reach out to those sectors to get their insights.

This week, we spoke to Craig Lehto, general manager at the Vancouver Convention Centre. Here’s what he had to say:

From the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic, the Vancouver Convention Centre has been evaluating and responding to the impact to our sector to ensure that the safety of our staff and guests remained our highest priority. Early on, we introduced several precautionary measures that we have maintained including:

  • Enhanced cleaning and sanitization protocols
  • Enhanced signage to promote healthy hygiene practices and to remind of all protocols
  • Communicating capacity limits on all of our spaces.
In early April, the Vancouver Convention Centre was set up as an Alternate Care Site to increase provincial hospital bed capacity. Thankfully it hasn’t been required to be operationalized to date, but our role as an Alternate Care Site supporting the provincial government allowed us to amplify our response protocols even further, which provide a strong foundation for us as we look to resume events in the future. For example, we have introduced:
 
  • Visitor management software to track arrival and departure of all staff and other visitors for contact tracing
  • Regular recorded PA reminders of COVID-19 protocols
  • On-site temperature checking when entering the facility for our staff and other visitors

While this has been taking place, our team has been working closely with all of our upcoming and impacted clients to find alternative scheduling options for the future and continue to support the hosting of their events once we’re able. While there has been impact to this year in particular, all of us are eager to find opportunities for rescheduling at a later date. Of course, much of this planning is fluid at this time and event activity will only proceed in adherence to our government and health authorities. 

With a strong foundation in place, we are now transitioning our planning to how we can resume events safely when appropriate. This certainly requires us, and our clients, to adapt how we think about meetings and space, but we consider that a good thing. If we can come out of this with meetings and events that are even more considerate of elements such as guest safety and thoughtful space usage, it will only benefit event planners and venues. Thankfully, our space is immensely adaptable and allows us to consider smaller scale events—like banquets, intimate meetings and outdoor functions—built around physical distancing and reducing opportunities for transmission.

We are also collaborating closely with industry associations including Convention Centres of Canada to share best practices and to be part of an important dialogue on the successful recovery of our industry.

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