See what attendees had to say about the return of in-person events at the Orange County Convention Center, which now features GBAC Star Accreditation and a first-of-its-kind medical concierge program to help protect your attendees (Together Again Expo pictured).

After achieving the Global Biorisk Advisory Council’s (GBAC) Star Accreditation and launching a groundbreaking medical concierge program in collaboration with premier, established healthcare system Orlando Health, Orlando’s Orange County Convention Center (OCCC) welcomed two in-person events in July — and both had healthy, successful outings that exceeded attendees’ expectations.

Read on to see what meeting professionals and participants had to say about their experiences at the OCCC during the Together Again Expo (TAE) and Amateur Athletic Union (AAU) Junior National Volleyball Championships in Orlando. Then, see why Orlando is the perfect destination for your next in-person event and how we can help you meet safely and responsibly in Cvent’s No. 1 meeting destination in the country.

Learn more: Orlando Set to Become No. 1 Destination for Healthy Meetings

Together Again Expo

Held at the Orange County Convention Center on July 24, 2020, the Together Again Expo was a unique meeting-industry gathering that strove to deliver safety, hope and a positive path forward for live events of all sizes. It attracted nearly 5,000 industry leaders, innovators and meeting professionals representing over 3,600 organizations, with a goal of showcasing new strategies and tools designed to navigate hosting live events in a safe, responsible manner.

Accordingly, they couldn’t have picked a better venue than the OCCC — a point on which TAE participants overwhelmingly agreed.

Drone image of the Orange County Convention Center

“It exceeded my expectations,” Classic Exhibits Executive Vice President Kevin Carty told Exhibit City News (ECN), “and I was coming in with very high levels of expectations. This had to be done right, and they knocked it out of the ballpark.”

Continuing, Carty said, “Personally, I felt safe, I felt that my staff was safe, and, like others, we need to continue to show the world that events can happen … business can be done face-to-face in a safe and meaningful way.”

Drone image of the Orange County Convention Center

“I was impressed with how positive everyone was,” said Mike Ebert, president at Chicago Exhibit Productions. “You could truly tell that the industry is ready to get back to work. There was not a single moment that I felt uncomfortable or worried about my safety.”

In his comments to ECN, Jay Burkette, vice president at Expo Displays, singled out the Orange County Convention Center for praise. “I had a couple of objectives in attending from a non-exhibiting side — the first was to get onto the show floor with my peers, along with seeing how OCCC staged and handled a safe event,” he said. “From my arrival to departure, I was very impressed. I think OCCC has shown we can do this safely.”

Added Gina Porcaro, senior account executive at Optima, “Unlike concerts and sporting events, trade shows and events can be controlled and managed safely; it will be a slow and calculated restart, but we can do this, we can get back to business, this was successfully proven by the OCCC, Alliance, the exhibitors and the attendees.”

Dasher Lowe, executive director of Experiential Designers & Producers Association (EDPA), feels that the TAE proved that a live event can be successfully executed with the standards set by Orlando and the OCCC. As he told ECN, “From the moment you walked in the door and had your temperature checked, to heading onto the show floor and seeing the ‘this area has been sanitized’ signs, I felt completely safe and comfortable.” All of which is great news for the meeting industry, both in Orlando and throughout the world!

AAU Junior National Volleyball Championships

From July 14-22, thousands of volleyball players, coaches and parents came to the Orange County Convention Center for the AAU Junior National Volleyball Championships, joining the National Basketball Association and Major League Soccer in choosing Orlando as the safest destination to resume play.

Photo of the AAU Volleyball Championships held at the OCCC in July 2020.

In addition to the OCCC’s new health and safety protocols, GBAC Star Accreditation, and collaboration with Orlando Health, participants were further protected by the fact that teams arrived at and departed the convention center in waves, reducing the event’s total footprint at any given time. As AAU Volleyball (@AAUVolleyBall) later tweeted, “Thank you @orlandohealth and @OCCC for keeping our athletes safe at #aauvbnatls!”

Venice High School Volleyball (@VHSVolleyball) was also impressed. “What a great @AAUVolleyball tourney that was put on last week in Orlando,” they tweeted. “Many safety precautions were put in place and a model example for many state organizations to use like the @FHSAA.”

Photo of the AAU Volleyball Championships held at the OCCC in July 2020.

Of course, you can’t have a junior national championship without players and their parents, and they couldn’t have been happier, either. “I attended the event [and] felt very safe due to all the safety protocols [and] absolute compliance of everyone involved,” tweeted Karisa Vlasek (@kvlasek), with Wendy Hensley (@WHensley16) adding, “[I] felt safe everyday — thank you for taking so many precautions to keep our daughters healthy.”

Some parents even sang the event’s praises to local news outlet WKMG. “[We] wouldn’t be here unless it was safe,” said Deb Fryar. Per Hal Bennett, “I think they have done everything that they could possibly do to make it as safe as possible and still let there be an activity.”

And activity there was — much to the delight of attendees. “I missed volleyball so much,” tweeted Hensley after the competition’s second day. “Thank you AAU for opening up the game in a safe and very well organized manner!” added Lori Boyd (@BoydLoriL). “It was great to watch everyone having a wonderful time competing with our sport.”

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All images courtesy Orange County Convention Center.