Turning Point - An Interview Series09 Jul 2020
Strong partnerships and open communication between show organizers and venues will be key for a successful return to live events—which is why SISO and mdg are bringing you the venue operator perspective in this installment of Turning Point: An Interview Series. Here, you’ll learn why Freddie Peterson, General Manager at the Miami Beach Convention Center, believes that restoring confidence will be vital to moving forward—and how he’s planning to do that at MBCC.
Are there any learnings from past challenges that you think translate to the current situation?
I worked at the Massachusetts Convention Center Authority during the time of the Boston Marathon Bombings. Whether a disaster is natural or man-made, it’s important to be constant and consistent when planning, educating, communicating, training and practicing what we do as venue managers. As always, the 4 C’s are a must: remain calm, cool, and collected while communicating responsibly. As you go through these crises, immediately restoring confidence is pivotal to moving forward.
What steps are you taking to restore confidence for show organizers ahead of the return to live events?
The health, safety, security and well-being of all who enter our venue is our #1 priority. As such, we have dedicated ourselves to increasing all aspects of our cleaning and sanitizing programs. This plan includes disinfectants, hygiene signage, personal protective equipment (PPE) for our employees, portable and wall mounted hand sanitizers. Our recovery plan can be viewed here, and in addition, we’ve created a case study which gives show organizers an idea of potential best practices moving forward. We are continuously evaluating the appropriate equipment that is best suited to combat infectious diseases. We are also applying for the GBAC STAR Facility Accreditation and are participating in the City of Miami Beach’s “MB Standard program.”
How are you engaging your team in this process?
I’m proud of the plans that we have developed, and of our team, who continues to instill confidence in each other and our venue. We have increased employee trainings that will further assist us in being prepared and our ability to respond to any situation that may present itself. We have also elevated some of our team members and added the responsibility of “health ambassadors” to work with contract partners and show organizers when planning and hosting events.
What does the future of tradeshows inside a convention center look like?
Prior to this pandemic, technology had been moving us into more of a virtual space. However, if we learned anything from the forced quarantine, it is that humans need personal connection and will continue to safely attend events. There has to be a blend between virtual events and in-person meetings, an interaction and intersection of both, so striking a balance will be crucial to our collective success. All of this comes from not only the show organizer but also from the venue perspective, such as deploying unique touchless interactions.
What is the best piece of advice you can give SISO members for partnering with their venue operator?
Partner is the key word and so important. The more we partner, share and openly communicate, the better we will all be at the end of the day. Event plans should be scalable, customizable and developed in consultation with event organizers, contract partners and public health officials. There is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to event planning during these unprecedented times. We need to be cautious, while striking a balance in driving ingenuity and innovation.