As the world and events community gradually open from being in solitude resulting from COVID-19 pandemic, we are striving to achieve normalcy and balancing safety for our industry. We did not allow the pandemic to stop us completely, as we pivoted to a digital experience through video to connect with our clients and industry peers. But there is nothing like human connection (the in-person) meetings, conferences, and celebrations. The ability to build relationships, share information, strategize with others who have similar issues and create solutions, celebrate with joy; a multitude of benefits as to why in-person connections are irreplaceable.
As we return to building masterful events, we now must ensure that all engaged feel comfortable to attend. To facilitate your future event planning, I have outlined a few considerations to give assistance with risk management and optimize the uncertainties. As you create your safety procedures be sure they yield the following benefits:
- Creates a safe and secure environment for all involved.
- Increases stability of business operation while decreasing legal liability.
- Creates and protects value.
- Minimize, monitor, and control the probability and impact of uncontrollable events.
PUT IT IN WRITING:
Create a safety protocol document, one for internal and one for external usage (the one you will provide to attendees/guests/speakers). Take time creating this document as you will need to think of all possible risks and hazards and
provide tangible solutions. As you generate your guidelines allow it to serve as an educational tool and build awareness to your organization’s overall value to the concern of your attendees/guests. If the opportunity presents itself, ask for feedback after each event of your protocols to evaluate what is effective and what is not.
POINT OF MESSAGING:
You know when you check-out at the grocery or department store, there is product every step of the way for you to see, touch, and feel prior to getting to the cash register. This is done intentionally to increase point of sale purchasing which yields an elevated cost of purchase at the cash register. Well you can do the same with “point of messaging” by have safety visual aids throughout your event space. You will not increase any type of point of sale, but you will increase the adherence of your policies and procedures you have in place due to the repetitive visual aids. You can brand and create your own, or the CDC has excellent signage ready to print.
LIGHTEN THE MOOD WITH SWAG:
Who does not love great SWAG?! What is SWAG? Well it is the acronym for Souvenirs, Wearables and Gifts. If you have ever been invited to an event, you received SWAG. Bring your message about safety full circle in our SWAG bags/boxes. From a full brand message on the exterior of the container to providing branded product such as hand sanitizer, masks, gloves, energy drinks, etc. This is also a great opportunity for your Sponsors to participate and can create their own brand messaging with relative safety products to place inside of the SWAG.
This is an area in which you may need to adjust your budget to hire a licensed nurse/healthcare professional onsite during your event. A licensed healthcare professional will ease the minds of your guests/attendees as they are reassured that someone is available to assist with any unknown healthcare concerns. You can also involve your healthcare professional to provide a 3-minute on-stage demonstration of safety guidelines for everyone to follow. Secondly, have them to engage with the audience and walk your event to act as security of health to monitor any improper engagement of your safety protocols.
Another preventative measure is to have individuals to wear face masks and conduct and record temperature checks of guests/attendees entering your event space. Temperatures over 100 would be prohibited from entering the event space or quarantined. Temperature checks can also be done by your on-site healthcare professional or a member of your staff with proper training.
Be sure your event space has adequate space in which you can choose a location to isolate/quarantine anyone that may become ill during your event. And be sure to know your local emergency agency contact numbers.
As everyone gathers for your event, all will be eager to socialize with each other and gather in groups. First make sure your event venue has adequate spacing to implement social spacing/physical distancing. You can create social distance seating for your event with software tools such as AllSeated, an online digital floor plan software, has implemented a physical distancing tool. Keep the physical distance of 6ft during your sessions (especially since individuals will be seated for a length of time) and give your attendees the comfort of knowing they are safe.
KEEP THEM NOURISHED & SAFE:
As event planners we want to be creative with every detail of our event to include the presentation of food displays. You can continue to be creative but now we must open our minds to non-displayed food stations and passing of food. Coordinate with your local catering companies to provide individual disposable bento boxes/containers. This serves as an excellent opportunity for the catering company to have brand recognition with their logos on the containers, or for the conference organizers to brand the containers with conference/meeting logo and brand colors. This aids with no-contact opportunity for your guests to be served, feel safe, and get nourished at the same time.
REPETITIVE EARLY MESSAGING
It has been said it takes about 20 to 50 times for someone to hear something in-order for our brain to fully remember. As you create your event protocols for your audience, be sure to email this information to them repetitively – not 50 times, lol, however, consistently. This may be a link to every mail after you do a solo introduction (without any other communication inserts about your event), to having it posted on your website, reminders via social media, literature in their SWAG bag, etc.
Continue to create a fun atmosphere for your guests and as the host/creator of your event, your audience will feed off your energy, so it is advisable for you to remain calm and positive.
At Perfect Planning Events, I have completed a comprehensive safety protocol (adhering to CDC guidelines) and waivers of liability for events in which I have collaborated with a healthcare professional, attorney, and insurance agent. I encourage you to consult with your attorney and insurance agent to ensure you meet legal and industry standards, and brainstorm with other individuals (team members or other experienced professionals) to consider/bring-to-the-table all the “what if” scenarios, to build safety protocols for your business and/or event. I only highlighted a few tips in this article of my brand’s 30+ safety directives. Each business is unique and different, and you must create guidelines based on your specific environment. Last but not least, continue to stay informed by following all CDC Guidelines to host large events.