Sep 15, 2020
The Power of an Engaged Partner – Making Events a Reality Again
A day will come when we swap stories about how we navigated through COVID-19 in our personal and professional lives. For us at Saint Paul RiverCentre, our story may include the early months of cancellations and continual rescheduling of events, followed by months of intense preparations, and then the much-anticipated return of events…but with a different set of preparatory checklists and a unique new take on collaboration styles with our clients.
In August 2020, we welcomed back our first event to Saint Paul RiverCentre – the United Brotherhood of Carpenters (UBC) 42nd General Convention. 150 guests arrived for a two-day event in our grand ballroom and meeting rooms. From a facility perspective, we were able to implement new registration protocols, room sets with physical distancing, changes in audio-visual protocols, unique continental breakfast setups, and an entirely different presentation of a plated meal.
After successfully executing this event, our main takeaway was the importance of a strong collaboration with the event organizer. While the planning process has always been a collective effort, alignment with our clients is now more important than ever. The planning process now includes an important agreement of health and safety protocols, COVID-19 prevention checklists, communication alignment, and agreed-upon expectations of each party to ensure the success of events.
We were fortunate to work with such an engaged event organizer, Joel Laskey of the North Central States Regional Council of Carpenters, for this first event. We took some time to learn about the event experience from Joel’s perspective.
Can you tell us about your experience working with Saint Paul RiverCentre to prepare for your event in August 2020? The RiverCentre support staff were professional and thorough, all needs and request were met.
What would you say were the key components you had in place for hosting a safe environment for your event? We provided support staff "Wardens" that insured COVID compliance in a professional and courteous manner. Having the support and same goal on COVID-19 compliance from our venue made this event successful.
What sort of feedback did you receive from your guests and staff about attending an event at Saint Paul RiverCentre? Excellent experience, the venue was first class.
What preparations were in place for helping your guests know what to do with the COVID-19 changes? With folks traveling in from six states, we sent out several emails, mailers, and texts expressing COVID requirement. Registration was by appointment. Sneeze guards where utilized in conjunction with masks for all person-to-person transactions. Six foot spacing was clearly laid out throughout the venue. Masks were distributed at the door; hand sanitizer was distributed at registration and available at all tables. Portable hand sanitizer stations in place at entries.
What was the catering experience like for your guests? Excellent quality of food, well thought out distribution within COVID policies, and executed professionally.
What advice would you give other event organizers when planning an event in this unprecedented time? I would recommend all food and beverage be served to guests in assigned seating.