Since the rise of the global COVID-19 pandemic, physical events and much of our global economy has either been drastically altered or completely halted.
Even as parts of the world begin to reopen, and small-scale events are slowly being reintroduced, there is still a great deal of hesitation and trepidation when it comes to hosting and attending a physical event.
In order to maintain mandated crowd sizes and physical distancing regulations, event planners and organizers are hosting hybrid events. This would allow them to maintain higher attendance numbers by allowing a limited number of people to be there in person while enabling the rest to attend online via a virtual events platform, eliminating travel concerns and possible risk situations.
If you are planning to host a hybrid or physical event in the near future, you need to consider the health and safety of the event participants and event attendees.
Beyond following local government guidance criteria when picking a venue, you must consider the facility’s preparedness.
For maximum comfort and peace of mind, you should find a venue that has gone through rigorous protocols and received GBAC accreditation.
To fully understand GBAC STAR Facility Accreditation program and why your event should have it, we’ve laid out the details of the program and how this accreditation can benefit your event. Here’s what you need to know:
What is the GBAC STAR Facility Accreditation?
The GBAC STAR Facility Accreditation program is a new certification that has been introduced to evaluate 20 different elements of a venue’s operating procedures and risk management strategies
Their assessment is centered around biorisk prevention and harm reduction and will include strategies from disinfection to emergency preparedness in order to ensure public venues meet accreditation criteria and can be designated as safe and used without any increased risk to those in attendance.
This certification is hosted by GBAC or the Global Biorisk Advisory Council. This advisory council is a division of ISSA, the Worldwide Cleaning Industry Association. ISSA has long been the industry’s only outbreak prevention body dedicated to preparing for, responding to, and recovering from biological threats, biohazard situations, and real-time crises.
The launch of this ground-breaking certification involved the coalition of a number of industry associations, such as the International Association of Exhibitions Events (IAEE), the International Association of Venue Managers (IAVM), the Society of Independent Show Organizers (SISO), and the Exhibition Services and Contractors Association (ESCA).
This accreditation program constitutes the first-ever third-party assessment for event venue safety and biohazardous risk.
What Does the GBAC STAR Facility Accreditation Program Evaluate?
According to the GBAC STAR program elements guide, the accreditation will do the following:
- Establish and maintain a cleaning, disinfection, and infectious disease prevention program to control and/or minimize risk associated with infectious agents such as SARS-CoV-2 (responsible for COVID-19 disease) for employees, customers, clients, visitors, the community, and the environment.
- Provide assurance and establish confidence that proper cleaning, disinfection, and infectious disease prevention work practices are in place and implemented.
- Establish a framework for communication and raising awareness of best practices as they relate to cleaning, disinfection, and infectious disease prevention.
Additionally, the 20 program elements will focus on a range of behaviors designed to accomplish the established directives above.
Here is a general overview of what these 20 elements will focus on:
- Organizational roles, responsibilities, and authorities
- Developing a facility commitment statement
- Seeking sustainable and continuous improvement
- Enforcing conformity and compliance
- Developing the facility’s goals, targets, and objectives
- Assessing program controls and monitoring capabilities
- Risk assessment and risk mitigation strategies
- Standard operating procedures (SOPs) based on industry templates (this is continually evolving)
- Tools and equipment to run the event certified
- Cleaning and disinfection chemicals
- Inventory control and management
- Personal protection equipment (PPE)
Why Your Event Venue Should Have GBAC STAR Facility Accreditation
The GBAC STAR facility accreditation is not a mandatory requirement in order for an event to be held during this COVID-19 pandemic.
At the moment, the only requirement for events is that they abide by the regulations put in place by the federal, state, and local governments.
GBAC STAR accreditation will go a step further and provide peace of mind to all parties by ensuring that hygiene and harm reduction practices are in place at the event venue.
It is one thing for a venue to say they have followed the rules and another for them to go out of their way to prove they have done so and will continue to do so.
Hosting an event at a GBAC STAR facility will tell your event attendees that you have taken their safety into consideration during the planning process.
Getting Certified With the GBAC STAR Facility Accreditation
Another major benefit of choosing an event venue that has been GBAC STAR certified is that it will have access to a large number of resources that are issued when a facility becomes compliant under COVID-19 preparedness procedures.
As an event organizer, this step lets you know that facility owners and venue managers take coronavirus seriously and are willing to do what it takes to return to operations in a safe and secure manner.
In order to be considered for the GBAC STAR, the venue must apply through the GBAC STAR application website.
Here is a break down of what an event venue will receive once approved for the GBAC STAR facility accreditation program:
- Review teams that assess the current program, including the facility’s current procedures for waste management, personnel training and competency, emergency preparedness and response, facility infection disease prevention practices, worker health program, audit program, and documentation management procedure.
- Personal protective equipment (PPE)
- Cleaning supplies and disinfection chemicals
- Technology and tools, some of which that can be implemented into your event hosting software
- Review of supply control
The program elements guide provides guidance from the official GBAC STAR Accreditation Handbook. Here is an excerpt from the facility infectious disease prevention practices:
Facility infection disease prevention practices – The facility shall implement infection control programs, procedures, and technologies that protect employees, clients, and customers.
Implementation Guidance: In order to minimize or eliminate the risk of spread and contamination of infectious diseases, the facility needs to address its in-house requirements (staff) as well as the needs of customers, clients, and visitors.
These will need to include engineering and administrative controls, as well as PPE.
Examples of engineering controls include, but not limited to:
- Handwash facilities
- Hand sanitization and disinfection wipe stations
- Automated cleaning and disinfection technologies (e.g., robotic floor cleaning and disinfection equipment)
- Touchless facilities/technologies, for example, hands-free: entry/exit, service acquisition, waste disposal, hand sanitizer stations
- Surfaces, objects, and equipment designed for easy cleaning and long term antibacterial and antiviral properties
- HVAC systems (e.g., UVC, air filters)
- Physical barriers to prevent person to person contact, hands-free waste disposal etc.
As you can see, the recommendation by the GBAC STAR handbook includes specifics for ensuring that the facility has a plan dedicated to the prevention of the spread of infectious diseases, as well as strong implementation guidelines. They also have a review team dedicated to ensuring that the venue follows through on correctly implementing these guidelines.
Benefits of GBAC STAR Facility Accreditation to Event Planners
When planning a fully in-person event or a hybrid event, attendees will feel more comfortable if they know their safety is a priority.
With widespread travel restrictions still in place, it is unlikely that attendees will be traveling great distances and will most likely come from the geographical area around the venue. This will reduce the number of outside transmission vectors, sure, but if attendees aren’t being protected at the venue too, the limited vectors won’t matter.
The GBAC program gives you an excellent promotional advantage. Some members of your target audience may be sitting on the fence and worried that if they attend your event, they will become ill or cause another to become ill. Social distancing practices are important but without the promise of safe facilities, they may decide to take a pass.
GBAC accreditation enforces the safety best practices put in place by the governing authorities. When sending event email invitations or marketing the event through your branded event website, you will be able to explain that with the accreditation, the venue will have access to the latest health and safety recommendations and that they will be strictly enforced.
When gathering any number of people in one place, there is bound to be someone that doesn’t want to comply with the procedures put in place. Choosing a venue with GBAC accreditation can eliminate some of the stresses and concerns that you may have around enforcement.
No one likes confrontation. But, in order to keep their GBAC STAR, venues will need to ensure that the rules set in place are adhered to. And given that accreditation can cost a venue $1000, $5000, or $10000 (depending on size), it is in their interest to enforce the rules. This means that you or your event managers do not have to play the heavy. You know that your guests will be safe without having to get nasty with someone.
It is hard to say right now what the “new normal” will be for the events industry. All indications seem to suggest that it will involve smaller-scale physical events, hybrid events, or completely virtual events. No matter where things end up, looking for a venue with GBAC STAR accreditation can help you keep event attendees safe while quelling any concerns that may be held by your target audience. It gives you a marketing advantage and allows you to do what you do best—plan and host events!
When you are ready to get started with your event plans, reach out to Accelevents to learn all the ways that our platform can support your virtual, hybrid, or physical event needs.