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Convention Centers bring people together... so now what?

I always thought I’d love working from home. But through this, I quickly realized I’m not cut out for this. I’ve been scrambling to get work done while the kids finally take a nap or during the 100th episode of Sesame Street.

Hi there, I’m Ashley Nelson. I oversee the Kalahari Resort’s Convention Center Operations and Catering Departments. I am the youngest member of the owning Kalahari Nelson Family. I am also a mother to two beautiful, rambunctious, young boys! So, I get it. I’m stressed from being cooped up inside all day and I’m stressed about what the future holds. What will our “new normal” look like?

Our Convention Center is made to bring people together. It’s designed to be the very best in congregating. Where does that leave us in a post-COVID world?

I can say with the utmost honesty, we don’t have all the answers. But as a family-run business, I know we will always do what we feel is the right and put safety first (as cheesy as it may sound).

Rather than jumping on the bandwagon of telling you what post-shutdown events will look like, we thought it best to bring you along for the journey. Here are a few ideas we have been working on.

Peace of Mind – First and foremost our associates, clients and guests must know it is safe and that we’ve got their backs.

  • You’re going to notice a lot of visual communication outlining how every guest and associate can be a part of keeping us all safer addressing personal spacing, hand-washing, mask-wearing as well as lots and lots of love.

  • We’re going to continue to focus on keeping our associates safe and healthy, this will include associate health screenings before entering the building as well as multiple wellness checks each shift.

  • All team members will attend an intensive health & safety training as we re-open so we can better combat this, together.

  • We’re working with our local and county public health and safety offices to ensure we have a comprehensive plan for guests and associates if they become ill while on property. This will focus on their safety, comfort and health needs while ensuring we’re limiting contact with others.

  • Something I’m very excited to be working on is our “Wellness Concierge”. This team member will be very visible and always available for all guests (and associates) to help ease their mind by communicating openly and honestly about how we are keeping everyone safe, monitoring that our standards and expectations are being upheld and they will be the keeper of our new Wellness Kits. These kits will include masks, hand sanitizer, gloves and other various items.  Wellness Concierge will ensure that love spreads faster than any virus.

  • Masks, but with some Kalahari flair. We’re working with some outstanding partners to ensure that even as they’re a barrier to transmission, they are not a barrier between us and our guests.

Banquet and Restaurant Service – This is at the core of Who We Are and is the center of our family’s time together.

  • Reviewing HVAC, air handling, filtering and air quality in all of our restaurants and event spaces.

  • Box meals are about to experience a renaissance!

  • Promote Chef-driven served options (“cafeteria style” just like the school lunch our little ones are missing so much) and developing new plated meal options

  • The continentals and coffee breaks are getting a makeover; focusing on house-packaged, single use or refillable options that eliminate opportunities for cross contamination.

  • As flatware is needed all items will be sanitized, including the napkin they’re rolled in. Condiments will be single use.

  • You’re going to see a LOT of hand sanitizer.

  • Discontinuing the self-serve options of the past such as buffets and salad bars (this is heartbreaking as a Wisconsinite and hopefully doesn’t last forever!)

  • Menus will be single use paper for right now or viewable from your personal devices at the table

Meeting rooms – Designed to bring people together, they now need to work in completely new ways

  • We are working with the industry’s best minds modeling meeting room sets and best practices for ingress and egress while managing appropriate personal distancing.

  • We’re already engaging the industry’s best for hybrid meeting options to help find solutions to amplify your event beyond our four walls if attendance is limited for a while.

  • Enhancing our automatic and touchless offerings such as water dispensers, we’re pretty sure water pitchers and water stations as we know them are a thing of the past.

  • We’ve already got our AV folks engaged in new sanitizing standards for everything from microphones to podiums to light switches (I kid you not)

Public Areas

  • We’re going to leave as many doors as we can open throughout the day to cut down and ultimately eliminate all high-traffic touch points that we can.

  • We’ve got team members ready to frequently, by the hour in fact, sanitize vending machines, door knobs, railings and other high-traffic touch points that we can’t eliminate.

  • Extra accessibility to sanitation wipes will be available on our Bell Carts, AV stations and other areas.

I hope this list eases your mind a bit. We want to hear from you. And sooner-rather-than-later, we want to see you!

What other thoughts do you have? What areas would you like to see us address in more detail? Where are the ‘gaps’ in how we used to do things when viewed through today’s lens?  Looking forward in hearing from you.

My contact information is below. Please send me any questions, concerns, ideas or just to say hello.

We’re here for you and we can’t wait to see you.

When the time is right – welcome to Kalahari.

Ashley Nelson
[email protected]