The Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre makes a COVID Safe comeback
One of the first venues in Australia to reopen after the onset of the coronavirus pandemic, the Brisbane Convention & Exhibition Centre (BCEC) has hosted a string of world-class COVID Safe events.
By the end of December, BCEC will have welcomed 47,000 guests attending some 169 events since its official reopening in August. Among these were 6 conferences, 3 exhibitions, 49 corporate meetings, 26 school events, 6 graduations, 3 citizenship ceremonies and a host of dinners and workshops.
BCEC General Manager Bob O’Keeffe says that ongoing communication with clients during the initial period of uncertainty after the emergence of COVID-19 was key to advancing the safe return of business events and the successful reopening of the venue.
“During the initial stages of COVID-19, BCEC was very mindful of the challenges faced by our clients and the impact on their lives and businesses, and worked in close collaboration with them to assist and support them every step of the way,” O’Keeffe says.
“We had regular ongoing personal contact with clients to better understand their needs and to offer flexibility with bookings and reassurance.”
The World of Drones & Robotics Congress from November 12-13 was a major highlight, exceeding expectations with 425 delegates on site and a further 350 participating virtually. Carillon Conference Management’s Ashley Gordon said the virtual component of the Congress delivered 19 exhibitors from the UK, as well as international delegates from Austria to Zimbabwe. Delegates attending the Congress in person told Gordon they were glad the event was at BCEC, as they trusted the venue to deliver the best possible COVID Safe environment.
Another success story, the Queensland Tourism Industry Council (QTIC) Tourism Village Celebration attracted a stellar line-up of local entertainment and 350 tourism industry leaders.
The venue’s biggest test since reopening came when it hosted the official AFL Grand Final Lunch. Aside from the game itself, the event was the crown jewel of Brisbane’s AFL Grand Final celebrations – and with 1,840 guests, it was the largest seated indoor event in Australia since the onset of COVID-19 restrictions.
Pictured in header and above: 'Before the Bounce' Lunch prior to the AFL Grand Final
The event went off without a hitch, with TLA Worldwide’s Stephanie Willox thanking the BCEC team on behalf of the AFL for their “flexibility and understanding in working together to drive a COVID Safe event”.
The success of the AFL Grand Final Lunch and other recent events was made possible by BCEC’s comprehensive COVID Safe Site Specific Plan, which has been approved by Queensland Health. The Plan is integrated with VenueShield, an environmental hygiene protocol developed by BCEC’s parent group, ASM Global, and rolled out at 325 venues worldwide.
Encompassing advice on protocols and procedures for food safety measures, surface cleaning, social distancing, hand sanitisers, reduced touch points and contactless transitions, the VenueShield program has been developed through consultation with public health authorities and international industry leaders in industrial hygiene and sanitation.
The Centre has also developed the BCEC Safe Event Guideline, prepared specifically to assist organisers in the planning of events at the Centre. The Guideline includes all the health and hygiene requirements that are in place at BCEC to enable events to be held in a safe and secure environment.
“The Centre has introduced operational measures to ensure a safe operating environment,” O’Keeffe says, “including a dedicated COVID-19 Task Force and COVID Ambassadors and COVID Controllers on site at all times.”
Further easing of restrictions recently announced by Queensland Health will make it easier for event organisers, with exhibitions, cocktails and all stand-up events now permitting one person per 2 square metres and providing for 100 per cent capacity for ticked events in the Centre’s Great Hall, Plaza Auditorium and Boulevard Auditorium with allocated seating.
While the social distancing rules have been eased, O’Keeffe believes the hygiene measures the venue has implemented are here to stay.
“Enhanced hygiene will remain part of our lives for a long time,” he says. “BCEC will deliver a heightened level of cleaning and will provide supply of sanitisers throughout the Centre.”
Since reopening with these safeguards in place, O’Keeffe says feedback from organisers and guests has been extremely enthusiastic.
“BCEC is developing a strong testimonial database from recent events – both video and text – from clients expressing their thanks and congratulations on great event experiences during COVID,” he says.
“We have been overwhelmed by their feedback and willingness to help reassure organisers that BCEC offers a seamless lead-up to the execution of their events.”
For more information on hosting COVID Safe events at BCEC, visit www.bcec.com.au.