We recently interviewed Dylan Cole, General Manager, Novotel Sydney Manly Pacific to get an insight into the effects of COVID-19 on the Conference Market and how Hotels are managing these changes.

  • Have you implemented additional cleanliness standards to maintain the health and safety of your guests and staff?

High standards of hygiene and cleanliness are already delivered through out Novotel Sydney Manly Pacific. The COVID-19 Pandemic demands that we elevate those standards even further; therefore Accor has launched the ALLSAFE Label, which represents some of the most stringent cleaning standards & operational procedures in the hospitably industry.

The standards will be monitored across all Accor hotels, and will include a reinforced cleaning program with frequent disinfection of all high-touch areas.

Accor’s global cleanliness & prevention standards have been developed with and vetted by Bureau Veritas, a world leader in testing, inspection and certification.

  • What measures have you considered in order to accommodate social distancing requirements in the conference rooms and throughout the event?

We have revised our meeting room capacity to ensure compliance with local social distancing measures by rearranging furniture to ensure a minimum distance between each participant is being met. We will also increase the ventilation levels with-in the conference space and have also introduced organised circulation path (one way traffic) where required.

  • Are clients asking for a COVID plan when requesting a proposal?

Yes, clients are asking what health and safety measures are in place, particularly when it comes to catering. We have built out a thorough (and consistently updated!) FAQ sheet for our clients that covers current NSW Government Restrictions, delivery of events, food and beverage, hybrid meetings and our flexible T&C’s.

  • How have you re-designed your food and beverage offerings to allow for social distancing?

Novotel Sydney Manly Pacific will continue to have a tailored approach to food and beverage options. For smaller groups we recommend a la carte service in Bistro Manly. For larger groups our food service will remain on our conference floors. Examples of our revised food offering include individual plated options, chef stations and gourmet take-away lunch packs. A barista cart staffed by a Novotel Sydney Manly Pacific team member will be available for tea and coffee service.

  • Are clients negotiating hard on price given the current circumstances?

We are seeing further negotiating around terms and conditions on our meetings and events as one would expect; flexibility will remain key!

  • Have you seen an increase in demand for virtual and hybrid conferences? And how are your technology partners assisting with the delivery of hybrid meetings?

Clients are very interested in hybrid meetings, I think as we move into Q4 and 2021 we will see more clients incorporate virtual sessions into their meetings, particularly should international speakers or delegates be unable to attend. Our on-site event services partner Encore Event Technologies offer a range of hybrid solutions to expand events outside of our venue to a global audience. The solutions can turn events of all sizes and types into engaging virtual and hybrid experiences featuring live streaming, Q&Q, polling, social media integration, event apps and more. From simple boardroom meetings to interactive educational seminars and AGM’s, through to multi speaker gala dinners and multi-day conferences; there is a service to suit all.

  • Have your cancellations terms and conditions changed?

At this time, it has been a conversation with each client. We are finding clients are bringing their own clause changes. Once again, adapting the needs and requirements of individual clients is key at this time.

  • Has the average size of events changed?

Currently we are witnessing enquiries for small meetings under 20 people, moving toward the last quarter the event sizes are increasing. Enquiry for 2021 is trending towards pre-COVID size, which is reassuring to see.