All eyes in Fort Worth, Texas, were on the Southwest Believers’ Convention Aug. 3-8, 2020. The faith-based conference, produced by Kenneth Copeland Ministries, was the city’s largest gathering since the pandemic. A little over 2,000 people attended, bringing much-needed business to Forth Worth’s hotels, restaurants and other businesses.
While this was the 40th consecutive year Forth Worth hosted the convention, circumstances were unusual given the health concerns. Connect spoke with the marketing team at Visit Fort Worth after the event to get the full report on overcoming obstacles related to the pandemic and the insights gained from the much-needed return of group business.
Why was important to go forward with this event in-person?
KCM has a long-standing relationship with Fort Worth and their great team is always terrific to work with. The Fort Worth Convention Center staff took every precaution to make sure the facility was ready to welcome guests in a socially distanced and safe setting. Center staff members wore masks at all times, hand sanitizer stations were readily available and our team was able to work with local restaurants to ensure pre-packed meals were available to attendees, in addition to the pre-packed meals provided by the center.
The center is also pursuing the Global Biorisk Advisory Council certification (GBAC) from the ISSA cleaning industry association. Beyond the facility, the city was ready. More than 200 businesses, including downtown hotels and restaurants, have committed to follow safety standards as part of Visit Fort Worth’s Re-open Responsibly program.
How does it feel to pull off this event?
This is our first event in the Fort Worth Convention Center since March 2020. The community was so appreciative of the business that returned to our hotels, restaurants and retail stores. This truly was a B-12 shot for Fort Worth, bringing energy and people outside enjoying our downtown and Sundance Square.
How did organizers ensure proper social distancing?
KCM printed decals that were placed around the public space at registration and concession stands, reminding the attendees to stay six feet apart.
Were masks mandatory? Were there any other safety measures taken?
Masks were encouraged and many wore them. Gov. Greg Abbott’s guidelines on faith-based services and events strongly encourages masks but does not require them. Hand sanitizer was readily available for all attendees. Center staff members wore masks at all times and additional signage was placed throughout to encourage staying six feet apart.
How was F&B served?
Concession stands were open inside and around the arena. Trinity Food and Beverage offered “grab and go” pre-packaged meals. Everything was disposable. In addition, our hotels offered the same type of service for breakfast and lunch each day. Our team was also able to engage downtown restaurants to offer packaged meals, which helped drive some business to our downtown restaurants.
How many people were in the space each day and did having it over multiple days pose any unique challenges compared to one day?
[Between] 1,700-2,100 people gathered each for up to six days. Because this is a family gathering, the attendance varied from day-to-day. We did not have any challenges that I could specify from one day to the next.