We recently had the pleasure of hosting Jordi Estruga, Guest Events Operations Director, from the Fira de Barcelona Gran Via for a webinar on how the venue is assessing risk and what mitigation measures they are putting into place for future events.
As expected, a lot of people had questions and, since Jordi couldn’t answer them all in the Q&A time, he’s kindly answered them in this blog.
Are the Fira taking any specific measures aimed at supporting organisers with persuading their sponsors/ exhibitors/ client that the event will be successful?
We are working very closely with organisers, sharing all the information, guidelines, countermeasures, and so on, and we are open to help them decide how they will apply all these recommendations in their events.
We help them also to assess how they could transform the guidelines in information for their customers, and we work with the organisers sharing with them what we are doing in our events, as a reference.
Overall, we offer ourselves to the organisers to do whatever they think is best from our side to help them convince their exhibitors that the event will be safe and that are countermeasures in place to mitigate the risk.
COVID-19 venue precautions
Is FIRA going to measure guest’s temperature or should the organizers make sure this will be done at the entrance?
By law, we are not requested to do so, and on the other hand medical advice tells us that is not 100% effective as you are not detecting cases without symptoms. This is why it is a decision to be taken by every organiser. We are planning to do so in our events in September but might reconsider doing so in the later months.
If you notice too many people gathering at the same place, how would you react?
It is key to put in place mechanisms before the event to try to prevent the queues (planning more resources at peak times, opening more access points, reconsider activities that are generally known as queue generators –delivering free material, etc.-).
This would help to reduce the probability of queues. If it is not enough, and queues happen, we will try to understand the root cause of the queue generation and put countermeasures in place. In short, in case of queues, we foresee three ways to manage it:
- Reducing the demand (or number or people creating the queue). That could be diverting flows, stopping the delivery of material, closing access to some specific area, etc.
- Increasing the capacity (or the number of people serving the customers). Adding more resources –from other points- to the service to increase its capacity, to match the demand.
- Also, if the queue persists, put in place mechanisms to manage the queue (reinforce the message of physical distance; allow space so that the people can queue with enough individual space, etc.)
Do you know in percentage the risk of collective contamination while during a fair like IBTM World?
I am afraid that no formula can give us this value in an absolute number.
However, what we know from all the work we have done is that the risk level in an event would be similar to the level of risk in a mall, shop, hotel, transport, or all the services related to the event industry ecosystem, while the mitigation capacity that we have (as a venue and event organiser) is very high.
We know the details of all attendees (as they are pre-registered), we can trace contacts, measure density in the event, we have permanent supervision, big spaces and big volumes of air, etc.
Wearing masks is all very well but a mask is only effective for around 6 hours, which means that at an exhibition people should change masks at least twice – how would you ensure this happens?
Currently, we will be focusing on what the administration is requiring, and this is that everyone wears a mask.
We will ensure that people wear masks to enter the venue and put systems in place to control that attendees keep wearing the masks inside the venue. We will not review the type of mask that they are wearing, and for how long they wear the mask.
In the case of the toilet area, it is a delicate space, how are you managing this area, related to cleaning it, allowing people to enter?
Increasing the cleaning of the toilets, reinforcing physical distance rules inside the toilets, and reinforcing the message that washing your hands is key.
We have installed hand sanitizers in all toilets and included signs with recommendations on how to hand wash.
Will you need to boost the Wi-Fi capacity of the venue to cope with additional digital meetings, tracking phones etc.?
We are lucky to run several technological events in Fira that require us to have a very capable and updated Wi-Fi system, and we do not foresee the need to boost their capacity for these countermeasures.
How do you propose to remove lift calling and lift floor buttons?
We are looking to install in some lifts a mechanism that replaces the current buttons.
The “new” buttons would detect when a finger is close to the button (2-3 cm near) and that would activate the button. It is a similar system to the infrared activation of hand driers or faucets.
We organize a one on one meeting conference where a group of investors meet company representatives in a medium-size room. How can we ensure that the meeting is controlled and safe?
General rules are to keep the chairs with 1,5m distance (or the physical distance approved in your own country) and preferably using masks, even if the chairs are separate.
It would be good also (if possible) to have a record of who has been in the meeting so that you could trace contacts if needed.
Setting times for additional cleaning procedures between meetings, plus leaving hand sanitizer available inside the room, might be good practices too.
If possible, try to increase the ventilation of the room (either opening the door in between meetings). Avoiding the serving of food or drinks inside the room (to prevent attendees to take out their masks) could be a good recommendation too.
Will all the food and drinks at the Fira be sold in recyclable containers?
Yes, this is our aim. In any case, we had in place recycling policies for cans, and packages, and we will reinforce them now too.
How do disposable cups and single-serve food items align with sustainability goals? Do you prescribe certain packaging materials that you can more easily recycle in your venue?
We already had in place sustainability practices, such as plastic recycling or using biodegradable materials in all the restaurants and catering outlets in our premises. Although now we might be prioritising safety, we will continue to reinforce recycling and promoting biodegradable materials.
Do you propose to have fresh air ventilation via doors, windows and a fresh air system or will all ventilation be via motorised air handling units?
We will increase the percentage of outdoor air that is already being fed regularly into our air-conditioning system.
If the conditions inside will be the same as outside, at the beginning of December, what temperature are you thinking of?
We will be increasing the amount of outdoor air, to increase the dilution of air, but we still plan to heat it before releasing it inside the hall.
That will imply more energy consumption and will be a challenge for our sustainability plans of energy reduction, especially in winter and summer.
Who is supporting the costs for all these additional rules?
All changes in infrastructure that remains constant for all events are at Fira cost (additional fixed signage, fixed hand sanitizers, screens in fixed customer service points, additional tannoy messages, adapting fixed Wi-Fi infrastructure to measure crowd density, etc.).
The measures that will be put in place specifically for events are at organisers cost are temperature controls in accesses, if needed, additional hand sanitizer points in temporary purpose-built features, etc.)
Due to distancing rules, how will we cover “fixed” costs? (For instance, if the capacity of a space is 250 persons instead of 600 persons, either we need more spaces, and/or the rental costs are supported by fewer attendees)
So far, the local regulations have established a capacity limit of 2,5m2 per person. That compares with the standard (pre-COVID) capacity of 2sqm per person.
So, the reduction in overall average capacity that we are foreseeing is not major. Having said that, covering fixed costs is no doubt one of the challenges that needs to be addressed with COVID-19.
Have you outlines what measures are required from the organiser/ what’s included/ not included in the venue hire?
This is reviewed with all organisers, while we share with them the plans that we are putting in place and the guidelines that we have developed.
Could we have a copy of these Fira Barcelona guides for organisers, exhibitors and visitors?
Yes, you can find all the guides here:
You may also be interested in…
- The Future of Event Tech is in Your Hands
- Safe and sustainable – the future of our events industry
- In-Person vs. Virtual Events: No Contest
Find more content like this on our virtual resource hub, IBTM Connect.