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‘What the accreditation?’ A guide to Covid-19 safety labels

The lack of standardised Covid-19 safety procedures from the UK government for planners and venues has led many of the UK’s industry associations to produce their own safety guidelines. 

While this is a proactive measure, one that shows initiative and a thirst to restart the sector, it has caused confusion among planners over which safety accreditation to look for.

“It’s hard to truly identify which are the most credible,” Lizzy Easton, founder of Oddity Events told M&IT.

“It is frustrating that while there has been so much collaboration all across the industry, that an initiative to merge some or all of these programmes hasn’t been taken.”

Eaton described the lack of standardised guidance as “a bit of a free for all” but explained Oddity chose to go with the Hire Space’s ‘Safer Events’ label because it was the most “timely and proactive”.

She added: “We want to make sure we have a coherent and fully aligned safety policy with as many of our venues, suppliers and event partners going forward as possible, to ensure the utmost level of confidence for our clients.”

A sentiment echoed throughout the event planning community in the current climate.

Carole Quinn, event manager at Legacy told M&IT that no matter the safety accreditation a venue has, there will still be a need for “a lot of communication pre-event” but most importantly “we’d request a risk assessment from the venue to demonstrate they are ‘Covid-secure’”.

But the onus of creating safe venues is not all on the venues. Quinn explained, that there is a shared responsibility between the organiser and venues, “to ensure that delegates are kept safe and details are captured in such a way that, if a breakout was to occur, we could trace and act swiftly.”

We’ve compiled the most up-to-date list of safety accreditations from across the UK’s event industry, including those from associations, venues and other industry bodies.

Associations

  • AIM Secure – Meetings Industry Association (mia)

The Meetings Industry Association (mia) unveiled its updated AIM Secure safety accreditation in late June. Venues which already have the AIM Secure stamp, along with those wishing to gain it in light of the pandemic, will need to meet a new set of infection prevention and control protocols, starting with a self-assessment process.

There is a small fee to pay for the accreditation. The most cost-effective way to achieve AIM Secure is by becoming a mia member as the accreditation is included within the membership fee.

HBAA (Hotel Booking Agent Associations) has collaborated with Quality in Tourism to offer the ‘Safe, Clean & Legal’ accreditation. The scheme has run since 2018 but has been updated to reflect additional requirements and standards for travel in the post-Covid era.  The accreditation can cost anywhere from£125 plus VAT to £2,000 plus VAT, depending on business size and has already been applied by venue portfolios such as Edge Venues and Venues Directory.

  • Good Practice Guide: Addressing COVID-19 Requirements for Re-Opening Business Events – UFI, ICCA, AIPC

AIPC, the International Association of Convention Centres, ICCA, the global community and knowledge hub for the international association meetings industry, and UFI, the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry, have teamed up to produce a guide on emerging standards, protocols, and good practices in the wake of Covid-19.

While it’s not a safety accreditation as such, the “Good Practice Guide: Addressing COVID-19 Requirements for Re-Opening Business Events” supports the respective members’ and works to create conditions and safeguards that will enable the safe reopening of their activities while observing the needs and expectations of relevant governments and health authorities.

Industry bodies

In partnership with VisitEngland, Tourism Northern Ireland, VisitScotland and Visit Wales, VisitBritain launched the ‘We’re Good To Go’ industry standard and supporting mark.

The ‘We’re Good To Go’ industry standard and supporting mark is free to apply for and means businesses can demonstrate that they are adhering to the respective Government and public health guidance in the country they are based in.

While this is predominantly a consumer-facing safety accreditation, the business events industry can also use it in conjunction with its own accreditations, as mia chose to do, announcing its full support for the campaign in conjunction with its own, AIM Secure accreditation.

The global network of DMCs and event planners belonging to Global DMC Partners worked together to launch the new ‘Health & Sanitation Standards’ which are personalised for each country and organisation. However, all GDP DMCs have committed to a set of core safety principles including following local and national safety guidelines, ensuring required PPE is in place and provide on-site safety management teams.

Supported by industry bodies including the Hotel Marketing Association, Tourism Alliance and Wales Tourism Alliance, the AA’s COVID-19 Confident accreditation aims to provide confidence to guests at hotels and other hospitality properties.

To be eligible for the scheme, establishments signing up must meet the AA’s key COVID-specific criteria. This includes supplying evidence of a completed risk assessment document, providing clear evidence that relevant safety procedures and measures are in place and showing that staff training has occurred.

Navitas is a health and safety consultancy specialising in the hospitality industry. It is offering specific Covid-19 Control Guidance and a supporting certification scheme.

Agencies

The Safe Event Scheme was launched by Cube International (as administrators of the scheme), ACT National (as health and safety consultants) and OnePlan (as providers of the event site planning platform used by the scheme).

The goal of the scheme is to help build confidence back into the cultural and sports event industry. The objective is to provide a universal ‘kitemark’ for the events industry.

There are two key types of accreditation:

  • The Deemed To Satisfy (DTS) route is appropriate for events of a standard nature and those governed by one of our Affiliate Partner organisations.
  • The Assured Event (AE) route is for larger events of a complex nature.

To gain the accreditation, planners must sign up to the free-to-join Affiliate Partner Programme. The programme requires partners to share their guidance and protocols with the scheme’s safety advisory panel and to provide CUBE with demarked event types for which their guidance should apply.

Accreditation fees vary depending on the event size. Costs begin at £400 for small events which include H&S advisory feedback on submissions and free resubmission if required. This is aimed at ensuring the SES is accessible to smaller event owners and operators.

Venues

Event booking platform, Hire Space, has released a white paper detailing its accreditation scheme for venues and event organisers. The accreditation offers Covid-related hygiene and digital skills training for event organisers.

The paper, which is regularly updated, focuses on six core areas: delegate and staff screening, cleaning, social distancing, hybrid events, food and beverage and staff training policy.

Recent updates of the whitepaper include:

  • Lift capacities changed from two maximum to as many as social distancing will allow.
  • Face coverings not needed for outside events following social distancing.
  • Event Organisers will need to wear respirator masks if in prolonged close contact with delegates.
  • Paper towels are no longer needed in bathrooms, as new evidence suggests hand driers do not spread the virus if proper handwashing techniques are used.
  • Easier for venues to book in a free consultation.

The Safer Events accreditation is guided by senior corporate planners through its consultation group.

The Networking 2.1 document is based on information from the World Health Organisation and UK government advice. It aims to give planners give demonstrable assurances that every aspect of the guests, suppliers and staff journey has been considered: from arrival, break times and overnight stays to the properties’ gyms and pools.

In addition to the Networking 2.1 document, Exclusive Collection is in the process of becoming accredited by the AA COVID-19 Confident scheme.

In April 2020, Hilton announced a new program, CleanStay, to deliver cleanliness and disinfection in more than 6,000 of its properties around the world. In a first for the hospitality industry, Hilton announced the program would include a collaboration with RB, maker of Lysol and Dettol, and Mayo Clinic.

Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts has announced its collaboration with Johns Hopkins Medicine International, the global division of health care and research leader Johns Hopkins Medicine, to validate its new global health and safety programme, Lead With Care, and provide ongoing, real-time guidance on the evolving COVID-19 situation.

  • SGS – Radisson Hotel Groups 

Radisson has announced its new Radisson Hotels Safety Protocol, a programme of in-depth cleanliness and disinfection procedures, in partnership with SGS, the world’s leading inspection, verification, testing and certification company.

These guidelines include hand sanitising stations at all entrances, the use of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) and protective screens, enhanced and recorded cleaning and disinfection frequency, social distancing in all areas of its hotels, including in the meeting and event facilities, training in local Centers for Disease Control or World Health Organization recommendations and health guidelines, a reiteration of food safety standards and comprehensive staff training.

Laura Ashley Hotels, Laura Ashley The Tea Room and Burnham Beeches Hotel have been awarded both the ‘COVID Confident’ certificate from The AA and the Quality in Tourism Safe, Clean & Legal accreditation to confirm the properties have the correct Covid-19 safety measures in place.

Bedfordshire-based, Wyboston Lakes has been accredited with both the AIM Secure Accreditation from mia and the Safe, Clean and Legal accreditation from Quality in Tourism.

Have we missed something? Get in contact at hpatrick@ntmllc.com