Two convention centers have stepped up to model best practices for meeting during a pandemic. Georgia World Congress Center (GWCCA) in Atlanta announced at the end of June that it was the first convention center in the country to achieve Global Biorisk Advisory Council (GBAC) STAR facility accreditation. The more than 4 million-square-foot facility documented each step of its procedures for cleaning, disinfection and infection prevention.

“Although events will look different moving forward, our commitment to our customers, show attendees and team members that the highest cleaning and disinfection protocols are being implemented at GWCC hasn’t changed,” said Frank Poe, executive director of Georgia World Congress Center Authority. He described the step as assurance for planners and exhibitors that venues are doing everything they can to provide a safe, clean environment.

Two weeks later, Anaheim Convention Center (ACC) announced that it had also filed its plans with ISSA, the trade association for the cleaning industry that manages GBAC. Tom Morton, executive director of Convention, Sports & Entertainment for the city of Anaheim, described going through the process as “an important step in the eventual, safe and responsible reopening of Anaheim Convention Center.”

Jay Burress, president & CEO of Visit Anaheim, pointed to the accreditation as proof that the facility is prepared to safely reopen. He reported that his team is continuing to sell and book events in the Southern California city as far out as 2028. The destination announced in June that since March 1, it has booked four conventions and 43 meetings at ACC for 2020 alone.

Read more about Anaheim’s plans to enhance the sports and entertainment district.

“With the threat of coronavirus still high in many areas, people want assurance that facilities are taking extra precautions to enhance cleanliness and safety,” said ISSA Executive Director John Barrett. “Whether an organization has space for millions or just a few employees, GBAC STAR will continue to be an important indicator of a facility’s thoroughness around cleaning, disinfection and infection prevention.”

The program’s 20 elements cover everything from standard operating procedures and risk assessment strategies to personal protective equipment and emergency preparedness and response measures.

One Accreditation Fits All Sizes

The accreditation is not just for large buildings. Dinner in a Dash, a Monroe, Georgia, to-go food service operation with six employees and 1,500 sq. ft. of space announced it had received the certification in June.

Brett Mitchell, general manager of Overland Park Convention Center in Kansas, reported at a meeting of International Association of Venue Managers COVID-19 Task Force that his team is using the document filed by GWCCA as a template for certifying its 25,000-square-foot ballroom and 60,000-square-foot exhibit hall. “It is a very different facility, but many of the elements are similar,” he reported. “This allows us to get running faster.”