A Word from Our Leaders
Brian Yost is the Chief Operating Officer for the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority (LVCVA). In his role, Mr. Yost is responsible for providing leadership and strategy to create exceptional customer experiences at the Las Vegas Convention Center, as well as providing oversight to all facility operations and any future facility expansion and renovation projects.
Q&A with Brian Yost
As a result of the ongoing COVID-19 pandemic, what changes have you made at the Las Vegas Convention Center in order to make attendees feel safe when larger shows start again?
We’ve upgraded our HVAC systems to use MERV-13-rated filters, which is nearly hospital-level filtration; installed hand-sanitizer stations throughout the facility; use approved disinfectant chemicals and delivery systems; and sanitize restrooms hourly. We have also been looking into electrostatic sprayers and foggers and UV-C light technology solutions for sanitizing large areas, as well as how to mitigate transmission through the air with aerosolization. We’ve also developed a pre-event checklist for thorough inspection, public space cleanliness, room resets, etc.
As the understanding of the coronavirus and its transmission continues to develop, our team is also staying up-to-date on the latest recommendations from the CDC, our public health agencies and the latest science around mitigation techniques and best practices.
Do you think some of the new health and safety protocols the LVCC has adopted will remain in place long term post-pandemic?
Yes. We’ve recently been awarded the Global Biorisk Advisory Council (GBAC) STAR facility accreditation by ISSA, the world’s leading trade association for the cleaning industry. This means that we have the best procedures in place that uphold strict cleaning protocols for infectious disease. Our employees will continue to be properly trained to carry out preventative measures and reporting functions. And I can see many of these policies and procedures becoming a part of the “new normal.”
How will food service differ when shows return?
Going forward, overall: masks will be worn by all employees; guest items such as straws, flatware and condiments will be provided by personnel rather than being in self-serve locations; coffee and other beverages will be served by an attendant; high-touch surfaces will be frequently sanitized; occupancy will be limited; and seating will be arranged to allow for social distancing. Additional hand-sanitizing stations will be strategically located in front and back of house areas to ensure easy access by staff and guests.
Banquet services will serve all food individually wrapped; garnish stations will be removed or relocated away from guests; internal or event planner menu tastings will be conducted in compliance with all established protocols; and sanitization procedures, for items such as linen and silverware, will be heightened.
Buffet-style services are discouraged but will be allowed only if food is displayed behind plastic-glass barriers and is served by an attendant.
What are your plans for minimizing crowding and encouraging social distancing?
We have created buffer zones and metering lines at entrances to maintain distancing, at designated entrance and exit doors, as well as directional walking paths/lanes; floor markings have been installed to designate and maintain physical distancing in queuing locations; and all lobby and plaza seating has been reconfigured to allow for distancing.
Las Vegas has long been the No. 1 destination for trade shows – how will you maintain that standing in 2021 and beyond?
We have the benefit of having some of the brightest, most professional operators in the industry here in Las Vegas, and these groups are working together to determine, share and implement best practices. We’re also lucky that the world’s eyes are on Las Vegas, so it’s a place that companies want to be to showcase their newest tech, especially in the hospitality industry.
There has also been significant investment in Las Vegas’ offerings over the past couple of years, and much of that will come to fruition at the end of this year and in 2021. The Las Vegas Convention Center’s 1.4 million-square-foot West Hall expansion, which includes 600,000 square feet of leasable exhibit space will debut in January, along with the innovative Convention Center Loop, a state-of-the-art underground transportation system by Elon Musk’s The Boring Company. Additionally, our resort partners are adding space, including Wynn Las Vegas’ meeting and convention expansion, CEASARS FORUM and MGM Grand Conference Center’s expansion. We’re also preparing to celebrate new resorts, with the debut of Circa Resort & Casino – Downtown Las Vegas’ first ground-up resort in 40 years – opening later this year, as well as the complete renovation and re-branding of the former Hard Rock Hotel into Virgin Hotels Las Vegas, set to debut January 15, and the $4.3 billion Resorts World Las Vegas is set to open its doors across the street from the LVCC next summer.
While COVID-19 did manage to dim our lights briefly this year, the future is incredibly bright for Las Vegas.