It was a rare glimpse into normality in December 2020 when Sydney Showground welcomed 11,150 guests to the Sydney Pregnancy, Babies and Children’s Expo (PBCE), one of the largest events to take place at the precinct since March that year.
By dispersing crowds through strategically planned session times and additional venue space thanks to Sydney Showground’s COVID-19 support options, PBCE Sydney could reach its desirable attendance figures and be one of the first organisations to bring exhibitions back to life in Sydney under NSW Government event safety guidelines.
For the event organisers the event goals were clear:
- Meet visitor target of 11,000 guests.
- Provide risk minimisation strategies for the client and build visitor confidence around COVID safety.
- Adhere to all NSW Government event guidelines and NSW Health regulations.
Like many events running in 2020, Sydney Showground and PBCE faced the challenge of adhering to all NSW Government COVID event guidelines and working within an ever-changing environment, including varying state border restrictions. To be deemed a COVID Safe event PBCE would need to meet the NSW Health requirements for businesses which included; an approved COVID Safety plan, 1.5-metre physical distancing, hygiene and cleaning, abiding by COVID food and safety guidelines, working within a 4 square metre per person layout, and patron and staff record-keeping for quick contact tracing purposes.
In addition to delivering a safe event, PBCE had its own targets to reach and needed an innovative team to help achieve these goals.
As a registered COVID Safe business, Sydney Showground was able to work alongside PBCE to achieve a successful event which abided by all COVID safety measures.
- The team decided to plan PBCE across all business levels, with regular meetings held between event organisers and Sydney Showground's account and senior management teams to ensure that every measure was taken to bring the clients goals to life and abide by all Government guidelines and regulations.
- To obtain the maximum capacity possible, Sydney Showground worked with event organisers to adapt the event layout in order to reach PBCE's attendance goals. Instilling confidence through flexible date options and a contingency plan for updated capacity limitation, Sydney Showground was able to help PBCE maintain its goal capacity and provide reassurance in an ever-changing environment.
- To meet NSW Health requirements for the business, a one-way queuing system was introduced using barriers, floor markings and directional signage to maintain physical distancing. Safety and hygiene messaging were shared in the lead up to and during the event. Plastic microphone covers were employed for each presenter, and audience chairs placed 1.5 metres apart and wiped down between event session times.
- All personnel had to register to gain entry into the event through an easy-to-use online registration system, with three fixed sessions. Visitors were also required to sign-in to the venue via a QR code for easy contact tracing.
- Indoor catering was limited to two drinks carts with outdoor food trucks and seating to allow for increased space.
- To account for a limit on visitor capacities, Sydney Showground provided an additional Hall and an extra 'bump in' and 'bump out' day. This assisted organisers in planning a physically distanced exhibitor bump in/out and provided extra space for wider aisles and separate entry-exit points during the event.
- PBCE achieved a visitor attendance of 11,150 guests.
- Over 70 exhibitors showcased over 200 brands at the exhibition
- Sydney Showground was able to work with senior management to provide reassurance and solution-based outcomes for all event challenges.
- Both organisations were registered as COVID Safe businesses and received approval for the event COVID safety plan.
- Session times and a new structure encouraged enthusiastic buyers and a positive crowd.
- Increased crowd numbers and safe social distancing were achieved by the additional space provided by Sydney Showground and an additional event day.
- Sydney Showground provided all COVID safety and hygiene signage, and a visual presence of cleaners and safety and hygiene marshals helped build visitor confidence.
"In delivering our December exhibition, we were fortunate enough to work with a venue that was flexible, supportive and solution-focused. The team at Sydney Showground went above and beyond to ensure we were able to run our event and provided a COVID Safe environment for both visitors and exhibitors." Managing Director, PBCE