Returning to hosting in-person meetings were key for this regional NFP business association. As an integral source of local networking and encouraging business connectivity, the business events hosted by this organisation are a core focus of their annual calendar.
Operating for over 25-years, the member-based organisation, hosts a black-tie event every two months. The events feature a keynote speaker and draw up to 260 attendees. The events are held at the Novotel Wollongong Northbeach.
With the impact of COVID-19 restrictions, the majority of their business events were heavily restricted in 2020. Looking forward to 2021 the team were eagerly planning their business events calendar.
We talk with the organisation’s General Manager for some insights on how they continued to run ‘business as usual’ to ensure imperative business connectivity continued for members and the local business community.
How did COVID-19 restrictions impact your business events?
We did face a number of challenges in hosting our events planned in 2020, the majority of these being impacted by COVID-19 restrictions. We also saw some impact in earlier part of 2021.
With social distancing measures impacting venue capacity reducing numbers to 50%, this did significantly impact our organisation’s ability to host as many guests as events pre-COVID. This meant that many of our Members were unable to attend our events. The reduced numbers also meant we needed to increase costs for attendance as a result. To ensure the safety of those people who were able to attend we also needed to hire our own security guard to undertake temperature checks and ensure COVID guidelines were adhered to. Due to interstate and intrastate travel restrictions we did have to cancel one of our planned keynote speakers.
The good news was that we did not have to cancel these critical in-person events completely and were still able to be meet!
What advice would you give to those planning an in-person business event?
While it might appear to be a daunting experience to host an in-person business event and adhering to COVID restrictions, working with expert partner venues, such as the Novotel Wollongong Northbeach, is critical to the success of the event. The venue were very clear on their guidelines and provided contingency planning options. This provided us with a great deal of comfort when planning these events during uncertain times.
I would also recommend that as business operators to ensure clear and open communication with your guests is paramount so that they are aware of all parties’ legal requirements and how we will be adhering to them at the event with their safety in mind.