EXPO attendees will see how Orlando’s hospitality adapted to overcome pandemic’s challenges

Those who attend the 2021 UMA Motorcoach EXPO in April will have an opportunity to see how one of the world’s top hospitality and tourism destinations has adapted to the challenges of a post-pandemic world.

Orlando, Florida, home to some of the world’s most popular theme parks — Disney World, Universal Studios and SeaWorld — quickly put measures in place to protect employees and visitors.

The city’s Orange County Convention Center, International Airport and Rosen Hotels & Resorts are all GBAC-Star Facility Accredited by the Global Biorisk Advisory Council. Orlando was one of the first communities in the world to receive the third-party designation, which requires adherence to rigorous standards and protocols. Those measures include requiring masks on the premises. They are mandatory for guests and employees. 

“Meetings and tourism are what we thrive on,” said Heidi Baez, Destination Event Senior Manager at Visit Orlando.

Successful live events

While many events have been canceled or switched to virtual, Orlando has led the way with successful in-person events. The convention center has hosted more than 50 live events in the past year. 

“As you go into the parks and into the restaurants, and you visit us as a city, you’ll feel that we’re hosting healthy meetings here,” she said. “All the hotels have their own standards, which are very rigorous.”

Orlando’s successful approach requires meeting all local, state and federal guidelines. From UV light cleaning technology and ozone spraying units to high touchpoint cleaning throughout the day and industrial-grade scrubbing of rooms between events, the center has technologies and protocols in place to protect both employees and visitors.

There are handwashing stations, signage about masks and distancing, and hand sanitizer dispensers throughout the convention center. 

Prepared for EXPO

The Hyatt Regency Orlando and Rosen Hotels & Resorts — where EXPO attendees will be staying — require guests and employees to wear masks on the premises. Rosen provides a “know before you go” resource to all guests in advance of arrival and more information during contactless check-in. Temperature checks are also a protocol for anyone entering Rosen’s buildings. 

All hotels have contactless services in place, including entry keys that can be downloaded to guests’ phones, QR codes on menus, single-sided buffets, distancing signs on the floor in public spaces, plexiglass dividers at counters, and technology to allow guests to request room service and housekeeping from their phones.

“Our whole destination is working together with our safety protocols,” Ishma Haider, Director of Marketing, Meetings and Conventions at Visit Orlando. “We always say that tourism is embedded into our DNA. We have some of the top brands here that are really pulling together to show that you can meet safely. That’s what really sets us apart.”

Baez, whose husband works at a hotel, sees first-hand how the hospitality workforce is being supported with both high-quality PPE but routine training on the latest COVID-19 protocols. 

“We’re all rowing in the same direction,” Baez said. “It’s not the convention center is doing a rock star job and the airport isn’t. All of us have the same vision and we’re all communicating with each other. We’re all talking to each other and sharing best practices to ultimately make this the safest and most popular travel destination in the nation.”


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