One of Cornwall’s busiest conference, meeting and training venues has reported a “very positive response” as it re-opens its doors.
St Austell Conference Centre, which is part of St Austell Printing Company, stopped hosting events in March as Government restrictions came into place. Since then, the team have been working hard behind the scenes to put new systems and processes in place ready to welcome back visitors.
Beth Mayman, operations manager, said: “In the current climate, we were unsure whether people would want to book meeting facilities. However, we’ve been very pleasantly surprised at the number of enquiries we’ve received as people become more confident meeting in Covid-safe environments such as ours.”
The latest Government guidelines state that even with the new restrictions, gatherings of more than six people are allowed for “work or education purposes”. Therefore the venue currently offers business events for up to 30 people where social distancing guidelines can be met. They have seen a wide variety of bookings over the last few weeks, including strategic business planning meetings, interviews and training sessions.
“We’ve had a few enquiries from companies who want to reunite remote-working staff for meetings and training,” Beth continued. “Many companies don’t have the space to hold such events whilst observing social distancing at their own premises. We are also able to host events where some people can attend the event in person, and others join the meeting remotely via virtual platforms.”
In the final weeks of August, the conference centre hosted a small number of trial meetings to test new procedures and ensure staff were familiar with the new regulations in place.
“Official government advice told us that business events for up to 30 people could start from the 1st August, but we didn’t want to rush things,” said Beth. “It was important that we did things properly, ensuring the safety and comfort of our guests and team. Our focus has been to provide a safe, yet friendly environment where all visitors feel welcome and can focus on their task at hand.
“Some of the safeguards we have put in place include reduced capacity in each conference suite, enhanced cleaning and reducing use of breakout areas. When it comes to catering, the buffets have made way for pre-ordered lunches which are served in individual boxes; “We’ve had positive feedback about the new catering arrangements, with people commenting on the quality and freshness of the food.
“Despite the changes, we are confident that people will find their time at St Austell Conference Centre welcoming, safe and productive.”
Amongst some of the safeguards put in place:
- Reduced capacity in each conference room to enable social distancing.
- Upon arrival, all delegates are directed straight to their room, leading to reduced use of breakout areas.
- Hand sanitiser stations have been placed in easily-accessible locations around the Conference Centre.
- Directional signage and floor markers have been placed around the Conference Centre as reminder to follow social distancing.
- An enhanced cleaning programme has been put in place for all areas, with a focus on touchpoints.
- Pre-ordered, individually-served lunches are now available. Each person’s food is provided in its own box.
- Staff wear face coverings and they ask guests to wear masks where possible in communal areas.
- Compliance with NHS Track and Trace obligations.
- Ongoing team training, and continued monitoring of advice by the Government, local authorities and Public Health England.