Marriott International is giving meeting planners a better idea of what to expect when hosting a face-to-face meeting or event at its properties in the age of COVID-19.

In September, the hotelier added two new resources to its Connect with Confidence initiative: a guide for meeting planners on Marriott’s protocols and capabilities, and a summary/checklist of recommendations for planners to consider before conducting an event. Planners can also look at a series of recent Marriott events for context and inspiration for designing their own successful event.

“These new resources assist that process in two ways: by preparing planners for necessary operational changes they can expect on-property and also by providing real-life examples of event execution that proved successful,” said Tammy Routh, senior vice president of global sales at Marriott International. “Ultimately, having these materials as a shared reference point allows planners and our event teams to find creative solutions and effectively discuss expectations, design and capabilities.”

Highlights of Marriott’s new Meetings & Events Guide include:

  • Diagrams and images showing new space setups in varying sizes to meet social distancing requirements.
  • A list of mobile solutions that guests can download in order to have a contactless experience when staying at a Marriott hotel—from arriving and checking in to dining and requesting amenities.
  • Different options for hygienic and safe food and beverage services during a meeting or event—plus a sample menu.
  • Information on enabling hybrid meetings through live-streaming capabilities.
  • A link that will take planners to a page where they can read and hear about recent Marriott events for inspiration.
  • Flexible booking terms, including (in the U.S./Canada and Caribbean/Latin American regions) eliminating cancellation and attrition clauses in letters of intent for small groups arriving through June 30, 2021.

Additionally, Marriott’s new Planning & Communications Overview Flyer is a two-page document and checklist that planners can easily reference when working with Marriott to plan a meeting or event—from arranging registration flow to bullet points on how to minimize contact between attendees.

[Related: 4 Pre-Event Communication Strategies for Meeting Planners in the Pandemic Era]

“Our goal is to serve as a true partner to our clients as we forge a path toward the‘new normal’ in meetings together,” Routh said.

Recent Marriott Success Stories

From Aug. 30 to Sept. 2 this year, Gaylord Palms Resort & Convention Center in Kissimmee, Florida, hosted the 42nd Annual HR Florida Conference & Expo. The event welcomed more about 500 guests onsite and 700 online—and featured a socially distanced tradeshow with everyone wearing face masks.

In a Marriott testimonial video, HR Florida State Council President Heather Deyrieux said touches that went a long way to create a positive experience for attendees included:

  • Branded hand sanitizer bottles and masks in all conference attendees’ bags.
  • A video, sent out beforehand, that was taken onsite to show potential attendees what the event would look like, what to expect and what might be going on behind the scenes during the event—all in an effort to provide a level of comfort.

Bachelor Gulch
Photo: Bachelor Gulch Event; Courtesy of Marriott International

Meanwhile, The Ritz-Carlton, Bachelor Gulch near Beaver Creek, Colorado, hosted a repeat executive client during the pandemic for safe teambuilding. The property’s Mountainside Terrace was an ideal setting for a socially distanced baseball event that “still allowed the group to communicate and work together for a fun activity,” Routh said.

“Meals were also arranged in a unique outdoor venue, Anderson’s Cabin, which is adjacent to the resort and the original homestead of John Anderson, a founding bachelor of Bachelor Gulch,” she added. “The banquets team worked to create a modified buffet line with servers behind plexiglass and hand sanitizing stations as an additional safety measure. And the executives enjoyed their meals in the crisp Colorado air with the chairlift overhead and mountain views.”

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