National Exhibition Centre (NEC) customer intelligence research has identified 85% of visitors surveyed since the NEC reopened feel comfortable in the venue with the COVID-19 safety measures in place.
The research, which ran from 29th July – 15th November 2021 (prior to confirmation of the Omicron variant), identified that the likelihood of a return by NEC visitors to other events is also high, with 87% agreeing it made them feel more confident about attending events in the future.
The NEC Venue Protect measures, introduced as part of the return to live events, require visitors over the age of eighteen to provide proof of their COVID-status on entry into the NEC. Lateral flow tests are also available on-site for those experiencing challenges in securing their COVID-status. Similar operations are in place for the International Convention Centre (ICC) and the Vox Conference Venue.
When questioned about the on-site visitor experience, 80% agreed they were able to forget about safety and simply enjoy the event.
“Clearly with the new variant confirmed, the situation may change. But to hear visitors have been able to relax and enjoy their time with us is a fantastic achievement for a live events business,” said Ian Taylor, Managing Director for Conventions & Exhibitions at the NEC.
“Across our NEC, ICC and Vox convention and exhibition venues, we are working in partnership with our organisers to create environments that are safe and welcoming. It has involved a lot of hard work and investment, with our Venue Protect teams operating throughout our opening period. At points we have had challenges, but with the visitor flows at convention and exhibition events, we have been able to evolve our operational approach to ensure visitors move through the checks swiftly.”
“We have had lots of positive comments from visitors focusing on the amount of space in the venue, which helps people to consciously socially-distance when they feel it’s needed,” continued Taylor. “The decision to check all of our visitors for proof of their COVID-status was also a challenging one, but it does seem to have encouraged confidence in the venue from the majority of our customers and their visitors.”
The customer intelligence team has also conducted interviews with event organisers from the three venues to establish how they have felt about the measures.
Jo Tyler, Chief Marketing Officer, Raccoon Events, said:
“For the National Snow Show at the NEC last month we directed all of our visitors to the NEC website to check the Covid requirements they would need. The NEC guidelines were clear, well communicated and totally managed by the staff there. We had almost 10,000 people attend over the weekend and the process was seamless. It really took the pressure off us as organisers.”
Stefan Hay Chief Executive of the National Tyre Distributors Association said:
“The Covid-19 safety measures and precautions implemented by the ICC for our 2021 National Conference and Awards Dinner, together with the overall organisation, were truly exceptional. From the extensive input into our pre-event planning and constantly updated risk assessments to the attentive delivery of the actual events, we cannot praise the ICC team enough. Our staff, delegates and guests felt safe, respected, cared for and most importantly free to move in a spacious, first class event environment.“