There is a lot of uncertainty in the air at the moment. We all tread carefully through our days, some trying to return to “normality” and others still in “hibernation mode”. With what seem like daily changes to health restrictions and competing advice about what is safe, it’s no wonder that companies are so unsure about when/where/how to reintroduce events. How do we go about planning events post Covid-19 in a safe way?
One thing that many people are craving right now however is that sense of community. As humans we crave that sense of belonging and human interaction. Events are key in providing this and for some, in-person events support this need far better than their online equivalent. So how do we go about “rebooting” the events industry in a way that is safe?
Planning has always been a key element of running an event but now it is going to become even more important. Spending the time thinking about all elements of your event is imperative to ensure that you have covered all possibilities and have made your event as safe as possible for your attendees.
Here are six elements to consider when planning events post Covid-19:
1. Monitor and predict crowd movements
One major element of post-Covid event planning is avoiding crowds. When planning your event, consider the areas of your event that may attract a crowd (registration, merchandise, food etc). One way of avoiding crowds at registration is to stagger the start times. You could hold breakout sessions of differing lengths up first in the day’s schedule. I.e. Subject A may begin at 9am and run for 60mins and Subject B may begin at 9:30am and run for 30mins, allowing for the main plenary session to begin at 10am. Have merchandise available for purchase online prior to the event and able to be collected onsite (or mailed out).
2. Hold multiple sessions
If your event usually runs for 2 hours, consider holding multiple sessions on the same day. For example; the first session may run 9am-11am, leave an hour for arrival/departure and cleaning and then the next session runs 12noon-2pm. This is a great solution for those events which typically have larger numbers that can no longer be accommodated for but changing venues is not an option.
3. Get creative with your event to ensure it fits with the social distancing protocols
We can’t ignore them so why not have some fun with them? What elements of your event could you plan that is in keeping with social distancing? Are there some team building ideas that work with the concept? Is there some sort of a social media angle that you could implement to encourage the sense of community without physically touching? This also applies to your messaging prior to the event – you need to ensure that the social distancing measures are clear in your promotion of the event but have some fun with it. Can you invent a brand specific alternative to a handshake or high 5?
4. Risk Management
Develop an appropriate risk management plan for each venue and event including contingency plans for someone developing symptoms onsite and managing unexpected gatherings of people outside or around the venue. Consult with the relevant local public health authority for assistance if you aren’t 100% sure of the local health orders. Ensure that your staff are all trained on Covid-19 protocols.
You need to ensure that you collect contact details from each and every one of your attendees. This is really important to ensure that if contact tracing does need to be carried out you are well prepared. Currently only ticketed seated events are permitted and seats need to be pre-allocated, allow time for this in your pre-event planning.
One major part of the registration process is ensuring that those who are feeling unwell do not attend. The best way to do this is to include a statement in the registration process where the attendee confirms that they are not ill and agrees not to attend if they become unwell prior to the event. It is also important to offer refunds for cancellations due to illness – this will help to ensure that people do not attend when unwell. This can all be taken care of inside your registration system – we recommend Floktu as an easy to use option.
6. Hybrid Events
Touted as the “best of both worlds”, a hybrid event allows attendees to select whether they wish to physically attend the event or whether they prefer to attend online. This is a fantastic way to ensure that you are catering for the wishes of your audience, as well as opening up the number of people who can attend. These events do need to be well planned to ensure cohesion between the in-person and online attendees and encourage interaction. If you are unsure of the technical side of online streaming, we recommend you contact a video production company such as Power Creative to assist.
Events are a powerful way to effectively get your message across to a large number of people. There is no doubt that events are a required element of marketing and by following the above points when planning your events post Covid-19 will help to ensure your attendees feel safe. This blog covers the planning process of your event reintroduction. For some practical tips on how you can integrate these ideas into onsite elements please visit Part Two: Planning events post Covid-19.
Planning events can be stressful under normal circumstances, adding the Covid-19 element to the mix can make it even worse. If you would prefer to work on your event reintroduction with the guidance of a professional please reach out to Events Outsourced – firstname.lastname@example.org we would be delighted to assist.