With the arrival of 2021 comes the promise of a much-needed fresh start. Whether preparing a conference, meeting or trade show, it is time to recalibrate your planning process and put cleaning, health and safety at the helm.
While there is no silver bullet, having proper cleaning protocols in place will help keep your event safe and secure. Following are a few tips that will let your attendees know you have gone above and beyond to create the proper strategy for cleaning and disinfecting your meeting space. This way your guests can focus on the event and not worry about their safety.
Makes Sure Staff Members Are Properly Trained
As part of the pre-event process, you need to ensure the janitorial staff is trained on the right products and protocols for Covid-19 safety. You can find the Environmental Protection Agency's "N List" of approved disinfectants that kill coronavirus and other pathogens here.
It’s important to use microfiber cloths when wiping down a surface. This allows the surface to stay wet, so the disinfectant can do its job. Cleaning and disinfecting are two different processes that work together to be effective. Cleaning removes dirt and dust, while disinfecting reduces or eliminates pathogens that could cause Covid-19 and other illnesses. Be sure to clean first and disinfect second.
Another thing you’ll need to consider is kill time, which refers to the amount of time it takes to kill germs, bacteria and viruses. These nasty guys don’t die instantly. Products kill times vary, so be sure to check. The ideal disinfectant can kill in under a minute, while other products take up to 10 minutes.
Identify High-Touch Surfaces
Similar to tracing an attendee’s steps, you need to "finger trace" and consider all of the surface areas participants might touch that will require frequent cleaning and disinfection. Walk through your venue in advance of the event and note all the areas your fingers and hands touch, such as door handles, bathroom faucets, elevator buttons and banisters.
These high touchpoints are potential transmission areas that will require extra sanitation. Frequency of wiping down depends on the number of attendees and size of the venue. It’s a good idea to have a staff member dedicated to continually wiping down touchpoints in high traffic areas.
Keep Attendees Informed
Be sure to share your cleaning and safety protocols early and often with everyone who will be attending the event. Work with the venue to publicize their cleaning protocols via the event website, social media and on-site signage. Safety tips, such as frequency of hand washing, masks enforcement and temperature checks, must be shared with attendees prior to arrival.
When it comes to décor, less is more in the Covid-19 era. Avoid carpets, curtains and anything else that is hard to clean. While cushioned chairs are lovely to look at and often more comfortable, a hard surfaced chair is easier to disinfect between sessions. Carpets are sponges for pathogens and require HEPA filter vacuums to be cleaned thoroughly, so stay clear of cloth and clutter when designing your event.
Invest in Electrostatic Spraying
No matter how often an area is manually cleaned, hard-to-reach nooks and crannies can be missed. To complement your disinfecting regime, consider a nightly electrostatic spray treatment. An electrostatic spray system is a powerful, efficient and reliable method to ensure all surfaces (front, back and sides) can be properly disinfected and sanitized. The wrap-around coverage provides better protection against the spread of illness-causing germs and will help go that extra mile to make sure your attendees feel as safe as possible.
Shari Cedar is the co-owner of AK Building Services, a commercial cleaning provider based in Fort Lauderdale, Fla. The company specializes in servicing office buildings, medical facilities, event venues, schools and universities, and condominiums across the entire state. Shari oversees the company’s sales, marketing and strategy departments.