Libby Hoppe

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The dreaded flu season

By Tom Blackman

It’s that time of year again. It’s called a few different things, most often “the flu season.” The restaurant and lodging industry knows it as norovirus season. As a refresher, norovirus is highly contagious, causes vigorous vomiting and diarrhea and is passed on by mucus and other body excretions. It is second only to the common cold in abundance. The best weapon against the spread of norovirus is hand washing with soap. The alcohol-based hand sanitizers are good for bacteria, but they don’t kill norovirus.

Although I can’t guard against a conference attendee carrying norovirus into my resort, I can and must prevent its spread. Norovirus loves to hitchhike on food, ice, serving utensils, toilets, restroom countertops, water pitchers, flatware, glassware and the like. We arrest the spread of norovirus by a maniacal regimen of employee hand washing, a tenfold hyper-awareness in our food-service technique and constant public-restroom area cleaning.

My request on behalf of the F&B and lodging industries: Help us. If you have an attendee complaining about norovirus-type symptoms please isolate that attendee and let us know as soon as possible. I know that may be a tall order, but send him back to his room, have him go home. If necessary, refund his registration. Maybe your hotel will even help there. It just isn’t worth the risk of infecting your entire group.

I can and must stop the spread of norovirus at your conference room door. Inside your conference room, your attendees must protect themselves from an ill participant. Your help in identifying, isolating and educating attendees who are potential carriers would be enormously appreciated.

Tom Blackman is director, sales and marketing, at Seascape Beach Resort Monterey Bay in California. This blog post was edited and reposted with Blackman’s permission from an online meeting community forum.

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