With a vibrant downtown convention district, world-class venues, and an easy-to-navigate urban layout, Salt Lake long has been perfectly positioned to host events both small and large. Now, as the world continues to deal with the COVID-19 pandemic, Utah’s capital city is working to assure meeting organizers and their potential attendees that local venues, including the Salt Palace Convention Center, consider their health and safety a top priority.
Visit Salt Lake, partnering with Salt Lake County, is spearheading a campaign to certify key venues in the Global Biorisk Advisory Council’s STAR facility accreditation program on cleaning, disinfection, and infectious disease prevention. The program was created to give venues a sanitation standard to meet the challenge of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mark White, Senior VP of Sales and Services at Visit Salt Lake, said it is important that hotels, arenas, and the new Salt Lake City International Airport meet the industry’s highest safety standards because “convention attendees don’t spend their entire visit inside a convention center.” Getting all those places certified, he said, is “good for the attendees, the planners, and it further distinguishes Salt Lake as a conscientious and safe destination.”
Salt Palace Implements New Programs
One meeting venue that already has implemented numerous safety efforts as it pursues the GBAC STAR certification is the Salt Palace Convention Center. The centerpiece of Salt Lake’s walkable downtown convention district, Salt Palace already had safety initiatives within its robust You Are Here sustainability experience.
That program, inspired by the United Nations Sustainable Development Goals and the Salt Palace’s original values program, showcases the Palace’s 17 sustainable hospitality pledges and commitment to its clients, partners, and community to produce the “very best in event hospitality.”
Because some safety and hygiene goals fall under the sustainability umbrella, Salt Palace’s sustainability department, led by Sustainable Events Coordinator McKell Nelson, is developing a framework to help the facility “prepare, respond, and recover from this global pandemic,” said General Manager Dan Hayes. The operations team, led by Operations Manager Adam Small, created new hygienic cleaning practices that includes the cleaning of high-traffic areas every hour. “They have knocked it out of the park,” Hayes said.
Salt Palace also built biorisk responses into its crisis management programming “to put clients at ease when they decide it’s go time on their events again,” Hayes said.
Salt Palace’s teams worked with ASM Global to develop a custom VenueShield environmental hygiene program. These guidelines include an indoor face-covering requirement, hand sanitation stations, social distancing and hand washing reminders, and enhanced training for staff members including proper PPE and chemical cleaner usage.
Under the VenueShield program, Salt Palace has developed new templates for room sets for all its meeting rooms, ballrooms, and exhibit halls. These stress proper social distancing and encourage clients to consider one-way traffic flows. Other safety measures the venue’s operators consider necessary per event are:
- Entrance screenings and temperature checks
- Face mask requirements
- Social distancing guide markers
- Social distancing monitors and advisors
- Increased presence of police officers & medical professionals
Salt Palace encourages clients to share their own safety best practices and requirements, Hayes said, “to ensure that our policies align and both sides feel comfortable.”
A New Sustainability Initiative
While the Salt Palace has been busy incorporating safety measures into its programs, it continues to focus on sustainability efforts not specifically related to the pandemic response. With four and soon five certifications from the Events Industry Council Sustainable Event Standards between itself and its in-house partners, the Salt Palace is a “one-stop shop for sustainable events,” Hayes said. It now offers a program that will help trade shows taking place there earn an “event organiser” certification from the Events Industry Council Sustainable Event Standards.
“We hope to make sustainable event design a standard,” Hayes said. “We believe are clients will thrive, leaning into the concept that sustainable events are innovative events.”