Our External Events Manager Rafael Azzopardi talks through what it’s been like managing a venue since COVID.

Manoeuvring our way around the unfathomable challenges of COVID-19 has been a real test for the whole industry, and as an events team, we have learnt more than ever the role that communication plays in success.

Regent’s Conferences and Events has been fortunate enough to continue trading safely for the majority of the pandemic due to its status as part of a University, given that a lot of our clients have been running training and educational programmes. We have had regular clients, where permitted, since August last year up to the present lockdown.

Aside from the stringent implementation of safety measures and thorough risk assessments both internally and for clients, the real winning formula has been the communication and perseverance of our staff.

Client liaison
All clients, regardless of event type or size, have undergone a thorough briefing before arriving on site so they are aware of their responsibilities around campus. This typically includes temperature checking delegates at reception and contactless registration, social distancing measures both within rooms and around the building, and group segregation within public areas such as cafes and eating spaces. Communicating our status as a Meetings Industry Association AIM Secure and a Visit Britain ‘We’re Good to Go’ accredited secure venue has gone a long way to reassure clients of our efforts to ensure safety.

Most importantly, the team has helped clients with risk assessments, method statements and keeping clear lines of communication open to reassure them and their delegates that conditions are safe. They have attended campus whenever there are delegates on site and for every potential show-round and managed to get through the period without a single case of COVID on campus.

The London School of Sports Massage has been hiring classrooms at Regent’s for over 25 years. Following a recent event, they said: “Their administration team have always given us a great service and it is a pleasure to work with them. In particular, their efforts to help us run our classes again after the Covid lockdown, and the health and safety protocols they put in place for us, were fantastic and we cannot thank them enough.”

Internal team communication
Communication within our small team has also been more important than ever as we’ve had to navigate new timetables, rotas accounting for furlough and limited staff on campus at any given time. Regular team meetings and the constant use of our team WhatsApp group has enabled everybody to be clear on shared responsibilities, maintain an awareness of client updates and crucially, to check in on each other and provide support through an incredibly turbulent time.

On the effect of the pandemic, our events coordinator Esta Verzoviti said: “My appreciation for being part of a small team grew tremendously during this past year. The uncertainty brought us closer together and we supported each other both professionally and personally.”

Cross-campus communication
The necessity to maintain communication across departments has grown significantly to share insights about the constantly changing regulations for education and its impact on the hospitality side of the business, and vice versa. As such a vast establishment across our 11-acre site, we have had to increase the frequency of meetings and increase the number of departments that we communicate with, to ensure that any other activities planned by the University as a whole have been taken into account. We had assumed some of the responsibilities of other departments required at weekends to minimise the amount of people having to come onto campus. We had also devised and implemented a more effective system of recording delegates visiting campus for our facilities department for track and trace, which was then extended to all visitors to campus.

Having held an introductory experience and CPD event with us recently, Bi-Aura International said: “It was very clear to us upon our arrival that the venue had everything in place to stay as safe as possible during the COVID-19 pandemic: staff wore masks, the hallways were clearly marked with one-way systems and the meeting room layout made complying with social distancing very easy. The Catering Assistant helping us with refreshments was professional and very friendly, and we were pleasantly surprised by the offer of free delicious biscuits on arrival!

“We return time after time as the whole team does their utmost to ensure that we all enjoy the experience and would like to thank the whole Regent’s University Conferencing Team for their support with event planning during these ever-changing times.”

Another client commented: “Rafael and his team in events have made my events feel Covid safe with one-way systems, separate tables for lunch and lots of extra support if needed. I am thankful it has allowed my training with the London School of Reflexology to happen in a socially distanced and safe way and the feedback has been fantastic with everyone relieved to be able to resume their courses so thank you”.

If you’re looking to book ahead for your next training course, discuss with the team how we might be able to help.

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