Updated: Sep 16, 2021
We walk you through what changes you might need to consider and how to put delegates at ease as a return to in-person events emerges.
While unexpectedly shifting to a home-working model in 2020, in the face of uncertainty, many organisers and organisations had to cancel or postpone face-to-face gatherings, conferences and meetings. However, as immunization programmes start to take effect and lockdown restrictions in the UK, US, and Asia ease, combined with pressure on the business continuity not to be brought to a halt, we take a look at what you can do to protect and re-engage your attendees.
One thing we have all established, is that personal interaction is critical to the wellbeing of the human species, and whilst we have all discovered fantastic new tools to make that quick meeting more efficient, for multi-day learning and communication; no virtual tool can replace.
In-person, Hybrid or virtual?
A big question, and a complex answer with so many variables, we take each event on a case by case basis to assess and apply the best course of action, but taking a broad view, there are a few rules you can apply:
If it can be held in a half -day or less - hold it virtually. The cost-savings and advances in technology, combined with peoples newly adopted acceptance of this technology, mean this is a powerful tool for quick (small) team meetings, or one-way communication. (Provided it is not of a sensitive nature and it is permitted to do so).
If it can be held in 1-day, but it requires significant travel, look at a Hybrid option. Combining in-person and remote access, there are some fantastic platforms offering significant interaction for those who cant or dont wish to travel. This is a great solution for organisations who are concerned of the optics of asking people to attend events. Those who feel confident enough to do so, are free to attend and can experience the benefits, and those more cautious or unable to travel can still take part. (For budgeting purposes, as a rough guide, the costs for hosting a Hybrid event are generally about the same as hosting everyone 'live'.)
If your event requires multi-day or replies on you need to evoke human emotion, then proceed with a live event. Business training events have been permitted since March 21, but
What events are premitted: (As of 17th May 21, UK)
Conference centres, Hotels and exhibition halls will be able to open for conferences, exhibitions, tradeshows, and private dining and banqueting events (subject to the capacity limits set out below).
Indoor events, including business events, are permitted.
<1000 people Indoors: Restricted to 50% of capacity.
Both outdoor and indoor gatherings or events, organised by a business or organisation, can be organised, subject to specific conditions:
that they comply with COVID-secure guidance
take reasonable steps to limit the risk of transmission,
complete a related risk assessment;
ensure that those attending do not mix beyond what is permitted by the social contact limits.
So what do you need to consider? This does of course differ all over the world, and your venue consultant can take you through what is relevant to your chosen location, but for the UK, we have started here:
Space: 1 meter social distancing to be applied in the meeting space. Ask your delegates to maintain social distancing of 1M or more throughout your event.
Capacity: Venues in the UK can run at 50% capacity
Complete a Risk Assessment
4. Make people feel comfortable
Consider lateral flow tests on arrival or before attending. Send one out with your welcome pack. Many are already used to this and will be happy you are taking precautionary steps to protect the safety of your delegates.
Temperature checks. - Some hotel groups like Exclusive hotels have invested in fantastic
Masks -If they are not currently mandatory, consider making them optional.
What should i check for when booking a venue:
Do they have a COVID-19 refund and cancellation policy in place? (If not, what are your concerns, and can they accommodate this?)
Do they have an automated temperature check (Non-contact body temperature terminal) - upon entry to the venue or just if checking in overnight?
Cleaning scheduled are a given, but it may be worth requesting a copy of the venues covid
While there are still some unknowns and everyone is finding their own version as to what the new normal will look like, there are steps that organizations can take now to help establish a stronger foothold as they recover from the crisis and move forward.