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9 October, 2020 - 19:48 By Tony Quested

We’ll meet again: Cambridge venues find help in bid to beat lockdown

Cambridge’s official conference and events bureau which helps event organisers find suitable spaces for meetings and conferences through its free venue-finding service, has unveiled a support strategy to help venues re-launch their facilities following closure during the lockdown.

Meet Cambridge, which has 50 venues in its portfolio including spaces at the University of Cambridge, its Colleges, hotels and other unique properties in and around the city, is aiding its members by providing advice on holding virtual showrounds, disseminating information from the latest guidelines, helping with the achievement of COVID-secure accreditations and facilitating the sharing of experiences and knowledge between venues.

With current government guidance now allowing small business meetings of up to 30 people in COVID-secure settings, some venues have opened and are taking enquiries from event organisers looking to hold team meetings, training sessions and strategy days.

Many of the bureau’s venues are also enhancing their COVID-secure processes and policies with the achievement of key industry accreditations such as the Meeting Industry Association’s AIM Secure and Visit England’s We’re Good To Go standard.

Judith Sloane, acting manager for Meet Cambridge said: “Our venues experienced huge challenges during lockdown with the total ban on opening leading to many staff being furloughed. 

“Now that guidance is allowing small business meetings, a number of our venues are gradually re-opening. Our venue colleagues have worked incredibly hard to ensure that organisers and delegates will be safe. 

“COVID-secure measures in place include reduced capacities to enable social distancing, one-way systems, enhanced cleaning and sanitisation protocols and industry-approved apps to record attendee details. 

“Over the last few weeks, members of our team have conducted socially-distanced visits to some venues to see these excellent initiatives at first hand.

“At Meet Cambridge we are continuing to support our venues through these difficult times. Our new ‘Huddle’ initiative, which we launched as a way of connecting with our venues in lockdown has been incredibly well received by our members who are welcoming the opportunity to have a space to connect, to share concerns and to pool ideas for solutions, as government and industry guidance continues to evolve. 

“Over the next few months, we will be developing these sessions further to include bite-sized learning opportunities on a range of topics; we are determined to continue with these Huddles as part of our future member engagement strategy.” 

Whilst some venues remain closed, it is still possible to enquire for future dates via Meet Cambridge. Those that are open now for small business meetings include academic settings with designated and separate conference and meeting facilities such as Jesus College, Murray Edwards College, Robinson College, Madingley Hall, The Møller Institute, The Pitt Building and Anglia Ruskin University.

Other spaces open now or later in October include: IWM Duxford, Hilton Cambridge City Centre, Newmarket Racecourse, Storey’s Field, The Granta Centre and University Arms & Parker’s Tavern. 

• PHOTOGRAPH: The Meet Cambridge team on a site visit to Madingley Hall.

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