by H. K. Wilson
As we leave 2020 in our rearview, we look ahead to 2021’s unmapped road of possibilities. J.P. Morgan said, “The first step towards getting somewhere is to decide you’re not going to stay where you are.” Industry leaders across the nation are taking bold action, innovating systems and redefining protocols to meet challenges left over from the previous year and ensure a prosperous future for all. So let’s put the top down, drop it to the floor and chart a course for success in 2021!
Lancaster Marriott at Penn Square and Lancaster County Convention Center Pave the Way for Safe Return of Employees and Guests in 2021
Josh Nowak, Director of Sales & Marketing for Lancaster Marriott at Penn Square and Lancaster County Convention Center provided insights about how these organizations are adapting to safely accommodate both in-person and hybrid events in the new year.
ECN: What are the Lancaster Marriott at Penn Square and the Lancaster County Convention Center doing to make guests feel safe and welcome them back in 2021?
Nowak: Lancaster County Convention Center and Lancaster Marriott at Penn Square achieved GBAC-STAR Accreditation in November 2020. As the gold-standard of prevention and preparedness, employees, patrons and stakeholders can feel confident in returning to our venues, assured that effective and proven systems required to achieve this accreditation are in place to ensure their safety and instill a sense of comfortability and excitement for travel and in-person events. The achievement signifies Lancaster’s dedication to creating safe and memorable experiences for its guests as it prepared to welcome back in-person events in 2021.
Among many other standards, this accreditation means that the facility has established and maintained a cleaning, disinfection and infectious disease prevention program to minimize risks associated with infectious agents like the novel coronavirus; the proper cleaning protocols, disinfection techniques and work practices in place to combat biohazards and infectious disease; highly informed cleaning professionals who are trained for outbreak and infectious disease preparation and response.
ECN: Do you see demand for in-person events increasing in the new year? Any observations about what these events have in common (business sectors, hybrid events, size, etc.)?
Nowak: We don’t expect to see large events and conventions until the third quarter of 2021, but we are seeing an eagerness in our clients to return. We’ll be seeing hybrid events continue to be popular because our clients are looking for flexibility in how they structure their events, whether they’re small to mid-sized meetings or large-scale. Overall, our clients appreciate and feel comfortable planning their 2021 events and meetings with the knowledge that we have the ability to accommodate them in every stage of the process from flexible contracts and tech-enabled site visits to a custom check-in experience or personalized touchpoints that will make for a memorable event and stay.
What we’re seeing is a growing interest in emerging destinations—small markets with big city offerings. Lancaster is uniquely positioned in that it’s easily accessible by train, drivable from major cities like Philadelphia, New York,and Washington, D.C., extremely walkable and offers a lot of outdoor and individual activities for guests to explore outside of their scheduled meetings or conventions. It even allows planners to schedule some safe, socially-distant experiences into their event that will make for a memorable experience.
ECN: How has the landscape changed for the long haul?
Nowak: In our industry, client needs have always been the number one priority, and the fast-changing landscape of the pandemic has made us nimbler in how we address any and all of our guests concerns both prior to arrival and during their stay.
We’ll see the hyper-focus on sanitization and stringent cleaning protocols for the long term—the pandemic has increased health safety standards for every industry, but especially in hospitality.
After several months of operating under the Commonwealth and Lancaster County’s guidance as well as our guidelines as a GBAC facility, we feel extremely prepared to welcome groups of all sizes back to gather in our unique spaces.
The benefit of our property is that we have the Lancaster Marriott at Penn Square and its two restaurants, Plough and The Exchange, which allows us to offer an all-encompassing experience to our clients. A huge part of the experience for companies and organizations that are hosting events is engaging a venue that can take the complication out of planning and meet all their needs by functioning as a one-stop stay-work-play destination.
ECN: In your view, what positive outcomes do you see resulting from this year’s changes?
Nowak: It’s enhanced the way we conduct business. We’ve become more efficient because of the need to pivot quickly while navigating unchartered territories. Again, flexibility is key here as well as the need for flexibility in areas, such as work and travel, has made professionals and consumers more compassionate and patient when it comes to planning.
ECN: How have you kept morale up internally during difficult times?
Nowak: Communication. Our associates are our greatest asset. We continued to engage impacted team members with our rebound and resiliency plans. However, while sometimes difficult, being transparent resonated with them. As we have worked through these past months, we reinforced the knowledge of all the steps taken for the safe return of colleagues and guests.
For more info, visit: https://www.marriott.com/hotels/travel/lnsmc-lancaster-marriott-at-penn-square/ and http://www.lccca.com.
Initiative Announced Between Greater Boston Building Trades Unions & Contractors and Partners in Health to Promote COVID-19 Safety in Construction Industry and Beyond
Building upon the strong base of COVID-19 preventative measures and standards established by a union construction labor-management partnership in the spring and summer, the Greater Boston Building Trades Unions and their construction industry partners have teamed up with internationally renowned nonprofit Partners In Health, local non-profit public health agency Harbor Health Services, and City of Boston Mayor Martin J. Walsh to forge a national model for COVID-19 safety and prevention.
General Agent of the Greater Boston Building Trades Unions Brian Doherty explains, “Safety is always our top priority, both on and off the job, which is why we’re excited to launch Construction Stops COVID. We thank Mayor Walsh for connecting us with global and local public health experts to create the strongest possible safety protocols in order to win the fight against COVID-19. The Greater Boston Building Trades Unions, along with our union contractor partners, are honored and excited to be teaming up with Partners In Health, Harbor Health Services, the City of Boston, and the City of Cambridge in order to kick-off what we believe will become a national model for COVID-19 safety and prevention within our industry and beyond.”
The innovative collaboration will introduce testing hubs where there are high concentrations of construction activity throughout the region, and an industry-specific public awareness campaign to keep workers and their families safe at work and at home. The multi-platform public awareness campaign will be being promoted through a range of platforms across the entire Boston metropolitan area. Boston-based Harbor Health Services will provide COVID testing and follow-up services from the testing hubs.
In March 2020, Mayor Walsh was widely praised for making the bold, early decision to pause construction sites in Boston, allowing labor unions, union contractors, and developers the time to collaboratively develop new safety and training protocols, and to eventually establish a safer path back to work when job sites reopened through a phased-in approach.
In consultation with industry stakeholders, the City of Boston’s Boston Public Health Commission and Inspectional Services Department also set some of the strictest guidelines and regulations in the nation to promote worker and community safety
Now, those regulations will be further bolstered by the creation of testing, tracing and treatment hubs in areas with high concentrations of construction activity, along with a sweeping public messaging effort, all aimed at keeping workers, their families and their communities safe by preventing further COVID-19 spread. The multi-platform messaging campaign seeks to bolster public health and showcases best practices to slow the spread of the disease by prioritizing safety both at work and at home. The goal is to minimize pressure on our healthcare system and to protect the health of Boston and surrounding communities.
The Construction Stops COVID initiative has underscored the power and importance of joint labor-management partnerships. Construction Stops COVID has been coordinated and launched with the support of construction managers John Moriarty & Associates, Suffolk, and Turner Construction, along with support from several key stakeholders who have been working collaboratively since March 2020, when the industry came together to launch the first round of safety protocols as part of the COVID-19 Construction Subcommittee. That subcommittee is made up of construction unions and area construction companies, and has now joined forces with local and global health experts to form Construction Stops COVID.
The collaboration was formally announced as part of a virtual kickoff event on Dec. 22, 2020. You can view a recording of this live event at www.ConstructionStopsCOVID.org.
Upcoming stories in this series will feature companies and individuals who have pivoted or created new products to survive these difficult and challenging times. Please email us at email@example.com for inclusion in future stories in this series.