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China Daily / 2020-05 / 23 / Page006

Hotel meeting venues adapt to post-coronavirus market

By YIN RUOWEI | China Daily | Updated: 2020-05-23 00:00

In Beijing, people are restarting their lives. Many workers are back in offices and restaurants' dine-in services have mostly resumed. Hotels, sensing an opportunity, have started taking reservations for meeting rooms.

Many hotels will now arrange small group meetings that meet social distancing guidelines. Some told Beijing Business Today newspaper that they have limited the number of people in meeting rooms.

Gehua New Century Hotel said small meetings with fewer than 50 people can be held by appointment in advance. Beijing International Hotel has recently held meetings of about 30-40 people.

To guarantee conference attendees' safety, hotels like Hyatt Regency Beijing Wangjing have enforced a higher standard of cleanliness throughout their facilities.

Xue Mingfeng, sales and marketing director of Hyatt Regency Beijing Wangjing, said his hotel with 12 conference venues is launching new packages with safety being the top priority.

Seating in meeting rooms is configured to follow a 1.5 meter distance rule. Meals and snacks are served in individual portions. Stationery is disinfected, and a kit with a hand sanitizer, disinfectant, wet wipes and face masks is placed next to each room door.

"Our employees are wearing face masks and gloves all day long and have received awareness training. We are committed to ensuring the safety of every guest who walks in,"Xue added.

"The resumption of the conference services has promoted hotels' cash flow," Gu Huimin from Beijing International Studies University said.

"Though hotels can only arrange small meetings and bear higher costs, it is better than leaving all venues idle and making no money,"Gu said.

More orders will come in after the ongoing two sessions-the annual gatherings of the National People's Congress and the Chinese People's Political Consultative Conference held in Beijing, according to Zhao Huanyan, an industry insider.

But the road to recovery is not easy, as the epidemic has changed the conference model, Gu said. "As face-to-face interactions are restricted during the outbreak, companies have turned to online meetings and galleries have moved their exhibitions to the digital realm. But I think this change is not an entirely bad thing for hotels. It forces them to reinvent themselves."Also important for hotels is to shift their focus from fighting the battle against the novel coronavirus to enhance their hygiene protocols, Zhao said.

"Separate dining, regular disinfection and spaced seating arrangement will become a normal thing in the post-pandemic era. It is possible that even stricter public health measures will be taken."


Hyatt Regency Beijing Wangjing's ballroom is laid out for a banquet. JONATHAN LEIJONHU/FOR CHINA DAILY



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