As we wrap up 2021 and look forward to a new year, we can’t help but reminisce. After almost two years living through a pandemic, our pre-Covid life seems like a distant memory. At this time last year, a sense of hope was in the air. A vaccine was announced; and, it was being rolled out to health care workers and first responders. We were challenged to adapt to ever changing regulations, rethink the way we do business, and come up with creative solutions to provide our gourmet cuisine, while safely serving our guests at events during pandemic.
After the vaccine was available to the public and the state entered the final phases of reopening, social events began to book quickly as family and friends couldn’t wait to be back together again. Corporations and associations, however, seemed hesitant to bring everyone together in one space. Many offices continued to have employees work from home full time or on a hybrid schedule instead of bringing everyone back to the office.
After experiencing over a year of social distancing, isolation and perhaps being in and out of quarantine, the need for face-to-face interaction was something many of us were aching for. However, we could not simply return to the way things used to be. The Four Points by Sheraton Norwood recognized that changes needed to be made at events during pandemic, for a safe return for both our employees and guests.
In addition to adhering to any state or local guidelines, new protocols were put in place at our property including:
- Increased frequency of cleaning and disinfecting public areas and high touch surfaces
- Modified food and beverage offerings to focus on individually wrapped items and covered domes for food platters. Hand sanitizer located near all food stations.
- Flexibility on meeting room sets to accommodate social distancing
- Incorporated mobile keys for Marriott Bonvoy members allowing for mobile check in and check out, as well as chat features for requests while staying here.
- Introduced options for box lunches, boxed breaks or in room dining for meetings.
As more meetings started taking place, the demand for hybrid meetings increased. The Four Points by Sheraton Norwood had to adapt to the changing technology to allow hybrid meetings to be successful. Although our meeting rooms already included state of the art overhead projectors and integrated BOSE sound system, we purchased a high-definition camera monitor that hooks up to a laptop. Most recently, we added an Owl system to meet the needs of video conferencing.
As we enter the last week of 2021, we are not sad to see this year go, but enter 2022 ready to face any challenges that may come our way. We are encouraged by our loyal clients who are eager to come back, meet in person and willing to adapt to this ever-changing world. We saw many of our annual large-scale events return; and, while modifications were made, the events during the pandemic were just as successful as before.
It likely will take years for the travel and meeting industry to recover from the pandemic. However, at the Four Points by Sheraton Norwood, we are inspired by how far we have come and look forward to continued growth through the strengthening of the relationships we’ve developed over the last 2 years.