As IET Birmingham: Austin Court prepares to safely reopen for socially distanced events once permitted, the centrally located venue has shared its extensive precautions for the reassurance of event planners.
Austin Court consists of 14 diverse event spaces for exclusive hire behind the main bustle of Birmingham city centre in a quiet courtyard surrounded by foliage, offering the rarity of private-use outdoor space in addition to its meeting rooms. The layout of highly adaptable interconnecting spaces and well ventilated rooms has allowed flexibility in redetermining new event capacities without compromising the safety of delegates.
Following detailed risk assessments, the venue is using this time of physical closure to train its staff on social distancing competency and hygiene measures, while continuing to operate and take bookings remotely. Though venue staff will be well-versed in these new procedures, Austin Court will ensure that fogging disinfection is carried out specifically by specially trained GCC operatives in all high-risk areas of the venue. Perspex screens are being installed in reception and standard precautions such as sanitising stations and PPE disposal bins will be implemented.
Minimising the need to use public transport, Austin Court offers on-site parking spaces for smaller events, and bicycle racks for those travelling locally. All visitors will have an allocated arrival time to avoid unecessary queueing or crowding and will be asked to confirm that they are symptom-free for accountability. Catering can be set up for a group in the Waterside Room, or can be delivered to each room and left at a serving station 2m from the meeting tables.
IET Venues’ highly competent technology lends Austin Court to bespoke digital messaging for each event to reiterate important measures displayed on screens around the venue. These will also exemplify the new rules for a one-way system around the building to remind delegates how to safely travel throughout Austin Court. Each room is set up with its own screen and capabilities for video conferencing, so everybody around the venue can tune into one channel at once, or allow for different sessions in each room. Instructions will be given to all speakers using lapel microphones to minimise the need for contact with the AV team.
To ensure the success of hybrid events, the AV team has been integrating popular online meeting platforms into their own AV system, so online and live audiences can interact simultaneously with presenters and speakers, as well as with each other. Multi-layer video switchers and digital sound desks allow the management of audio and video coming from different sources and locations and can merge them together in a multilevel communication layout. Dedicated hybrid event packages offer optional add-ons like Sli.do, which can be embedded into the streaming to encourage interactivity.
On the plans to reopen, Akmal Shahzad, Venue Manager at Austin Court said: “We understand that event planners and delegates will be rightfully cautious when live events begin to pick up again and we’re doing everything we can to absorb the concern through preparing our venue with stringent hygiene and social distancing measures, without losing the magic of a live event at Austin Court. We believe it is not about ‘making the best out of a bad situation’, but about enhancing the experience for delegates with sustainable solutions that are easily adaptable according to the latest government advice. It is the team’s attitude, experience and unparalleled equipment at Austin Court that will allow this approach to be executed professionally and securely. We continue to take bookings for Autumn and 2021, are monitoring government guidance closely so that we can open as soon as advised to do so safely and we are communicating closely with planners to answer any questions they are likely to have.”