I am willing to bet that before COVID-19, you never thought about how clean that chair was before you sat down to listen to a speaker at a live conference. Times have certainly changed. As the hospitality and meetings industries restart their engines, hosting live meetings and events will require major adjusting whether you are a meeting planner or work at a venue.

Janitorial services must be at the forefront of everyone’s mind. Putting in place a comprehensive cleaning program with the right protocols prior to your event and throughout it, will ensure your guests feel safe and secure. You want attendees to fully focus on speaker content being delivered at your meeting; you don’t want them worrying about germs.

Having a thorough cleaning plan not only lowers the safety risk for attendees coming to your event, but also ensures that your risk is minimized. Here are 12 essential cleaning tips to consider when planning your meeting in the COVID-19 era:

  1. Evaluate the entire floor plan of your event: It is important to know how many people are expected to attend your event, how large of a space is needed and what portions of your event need to be held indoors versus outdoors. “Less is more” will be a new mantra for ensuring safe and healthy environments.
  2. Reconsider all activities associated with your event: Before COVID-19, on-site registration, self-service buffets and F&B at networking events were all common practice. But now you need to be thinking of reducing high touch point areas and eliminate any activities that could cause hidden problems such as lack of trash receptacles or overflow of paper waste like tissues and towels. Consider mandatory on-line registration and pre-packed meals that attendees could pick up in multiple locations. Passed hors d’oeuvres and finger foods will no longer prevail.
  3. Cleaning items for swag bags: Hand sanitizer pumps, wipes and aerosols will be valuable amenities on tables or in gift bags. A strong first impression shows you care about cleaning and hygiene.
  4. Share cleaning and safety protocols with attendees early and often: Work with venues to publicize their cleaning protocols via websites, social media and on-site signage. Safety tips, such as frequency of handwashing, masks enforcement, proper airflow and touchless surfaces must be shared with attendees prior to attending the conference.
  5. Use electrostatic sprayers to quickly kill COVID-19 and other pathogens: Typically used in medical or cruise line environments, electrostatic sprayers can kill germs in large meetings spaces in minutes. A disinfectant sprayed with this tool is electrostatically charged to wrap around surfaces that could be missed with a manual clean.
  6. Not all disinfectants are created equally: In 2020, it is all about being on the N List. This is the EPA’s list of approved disinfectants to kill COVID-19. Janitorial staff must have proper training to make sure the products are being correctly applied per manufacturer’s specifications.
  7. Cleaning and disinfecting makes magic: Cleaning and disinfecting are two different processes. Both work together for the magic to happen. Cleaning removes dirt and dust; disinfecting reduces or eliminates pathogens that could cause illness. Clean first, disinfect second.
  8. Cleaning frequency: Day porters should clean and disinfect high touchpoint areas throughout the day (i.e. bathrooms, elevator buttons and door handles). Janitorial crews should perform a deeper clean every evening. Using an electrostatic sprayer to disinfect is recommended to ensure a fresh start each morning before general session.
  9. It’s all in the kill time: A quick spray and wipe is a waste. Disinfectants need time to do their job. They do not work instantly. To be effective, disinfectants need to sit wet on a surface (aka contact time) for a specified amount of time. For example, Clorox Disinfecting Wipes need four minutes of contact time. Each product is different; read your labels!
  10. Microfiber cloths rock: These cloths are amazing and I can not live without them. Microfiber can remove unseen microbes, like bacteria, viruses and germs from surfaces.
  11. Ventilation: Ensure adequate ventilation in meeting spaces when cleaners and disinfectants are used to prevent staff and attendees from inhaling toxic fumes.
  12. Review relevant local/state regulatory agency policies: Prior to your event, consult with the venue operator about their COVID-19 policies. Consult with local health officials about recommended COVID-19 testing policies for events and gatherings.

Following these tips will let your attendees know that you have gone above and beyond to create the proper strategy for cleaning and disinfecting your meeting space. This way your guests can focus on your event and not worry about their safety.

Meetings and events support more than ten million jobs worldwide. Let’s do our part to get event planners and live venue employees back to work and begin the road to recovery following the COVID-19 pandemic.

Shari Cedar is co-owner of AK Building Services, Florida’s premier commercial cleaning provider based in Fort Lauderdale.  The company specializes in servicing office buildings, medical facilities, schools & universities and condominiums across the entire state. She oversees the company’s sales, marketing and strategy departments.