VIENNA, Va. — Southern Management Companies and its Hotel Division recently announced the launch of EVENT Strong, a comprehensive health and safety program that allows its properties to safely host meetings, social gatherings, and events of various sizes in accordance with local guidelines. Southern is introducing the comprehensive EVENT Strong plan at The Hotel at the University of Maryland, Cambria Hotel College Park, The Hotel at Arundel Preserve, and Bear Creek Mountain Resort and Conference Center.
EVENT Strong is an extension of Southern’s Ever Strong program, which is a detailed cleaning and sanitization program built on four pillars: physical distancing and face coverings, cleanliness, active monitoring, and rapid response. Ever Strong provided the foundation to allow Southern’s properties to safely reopen and has driven the organization’s operational practices and protocols, which now includes hosting in-person events and gatherings.
“Our goal is to reduce the uncertainty of meeting face-to-face. EVENT Strong is a thoughtful and thorough set of elevated standards for events at our facilities,” said Jeff Brainard, vice president of sales and marketing at Southern. “We have changed every step of the planning process and on-site execution of events in an effort to provide a safe environment for our guests and team members.”
EVENT Strong is based on four specific areas of focus:
- Ever Strong: This company-wide program is the foundation for health and safety protocols at all Southern properties. Ever Strong follows state and local guidelines to prevent the spread of COVID-19 and outlines key procedures for all areas of hotel operations (including sales and conference services), cleaning and sanitizing, physical distancing, and face coverings.
- Environmental Systems: An essential component of client and team member health and safety is the advanced HVAC technology in Southern’s hotel and resort properties. These modern systems include enhanced air filtering, which allows for both automatically and manually controlled air exchange that reduces airborne particles and aerosols. Additionally, each property has control systems for regulating airflow and circulation in event and pre-function areas. Advanced filtering and sanitizing capabilities, which vary by property, include automated CO2 monitoring, UV-C light sterilization, and remote sensing and adjustment to ensure optimal air exchange. The meeting spaces have multiple units that work in concert to provide customizable settings for different programs based on client needs.
- Technology: Customized audio-visual solutions accommodate hybrid meetings that combine in-person and remote capabilities. Multi-room, on-site broadcasting allows hosts to limit occupancies in individual spaces while accommodating larger group sizes.
- Food and Beverage: Recognizing that food and beverage is an essential part of every successful meeting and event, Southern’s culinary and banquet service teams have expanded offerings to comply with the latest Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) guidelines. These changes include replacing all self-service style buffets and stations with alternative service methods, including carefully served chef-attended stations, which are well-spaced and safely executed. Culinary team members wear appropriate PPE with physical safeguards in place.
Team members at each of the properties have received training on COVID-19 safety and sanitation protocols with more comprehensive training for those with frequent guest contact, including housekeeping, food and beverage, hotel operations, engineering, and security. Action plans are in place and team members are trained on how to respond swiftly to any reported cases of COVID-19 on-property.
“EVENT Strong is a partnership with planners, attendees, and guests that commit to following the guidelines established by the Hotel and the planning organization and ensures everyone works together to ensure safe practices are consistently followed,” Brainard added.