COVID protocols mandate changes—but not compromised service.
Personal connection is the top goal and benefit of face-to-face events. And while these connections occur on trade show floors, through educational sessions, and intimate meetings, they also often happen over food and beverage experiences. Put simply, F&B is critical to the guest experience in many ways.
But like all aspects of gatherings in the pandemic, dining options have had to change. Certainly, the revamped experience makes it new and unfamiliar. Still, MGM Resorts is committed to presenting the same high standards of service and engagement guests have always had here, and we’ve even seen ways these changes can actually enhance attendees’ experience.
Here’s a look into what we’re doing at MGM Resorts as we prioritize safety without sacrificing our guests’ F&B experience—and three ways others can do the same.
1. Offer rigorous safety standards but flexible options.
We’ve planned out a range of options that fit in with stringent COVID-19 protocols so associations can safely convene while also having a fully customized experience. For instance, all breaks are now attended and can be served roaming or stationed, with an extended list of pre-packaged and preset menu options.
Instead of traditional buffets—a time-tested and well-loved format—we’ve adapted the offering to pandemic circumstances. We still offer a wide variety of choices served marketplace style, serviced by an attendant with individually covered micro-plates and packaged items available to attendees. This format tweak retains all the key elements of service, choice, and engagement—even offering an additive experience with more of a boutique quality. Our focus is on developing new protocols that ensure safety while still offering options to hosts and attendees alike.
2. Exceed expectations for what’s possible in a pandemic.
While traveling was de rigueur mere months ago, now it comes with substantial consideration of the risk/reward ratio; when guests travel for events during the pandemic, they must find an experience that justifies the trip. We must give them a safe experience along with the same standard they’ve come to expect from food and drink at MGM properties, and our team has committed to elevating the service we offer.
Our plated events are a perfect example: Tables are all set nine feet from edge to edge, without communal serving options. We might do bento box-style meals, so attendees get a fully composed meal but with just one service drop to the table. We also let guests scan the menu by way of QR codes to prevent any need for queuing, and this process provides both enhanced choice and safety, too.
I’ve found that the change to the number of seats per table has increased the ability to network at a meeting. Whereas you might think that social distancing would take away from networking, this new format provides even more opportunity to do so at a table over a meal. It’s a more intimate experience, with all guests engaged in conversation instead of splintering off.
I would have never thought that would be the case until I sat down to lunch as we were testing out these protocols; the cohesive conversation I was having with the group was really amazing. This firsthand testing is critical to us as a company to understand the full guest journey from start to finish and deliver an exceptional experience.
3. Come together.
The fact is when meetings happen successfully and safely; it benefits all of us in the associations, hospitality, and meetings world. So we must commit to both the standards and the execution of safety measures—and the messaging, too.
In Las Vegas, we’ve united in leveraging each other’s expertise and creativity. We’ve come together to show a new way of doing things with lots of benefits, including enhanced networking opportunities and service.
We’re open to change and continual evolution. We’re collaborating. We’re doing it. And if we can all showcase our successes to the industry, we can all move forward and thrive.
This article was produced by Tori Chivers, VP of Catering/Convention Services. MGM Resorts International offers 4 million square feet of meeting and convention space at its properties across the country. Advanced designs feature robust and creative meeting options to meet the ever-changing needs for collaborative and productive workspaces. To learn more, view our available venues across our portfolio, including Las Vegas.