The Volan team has been proud to support some of the industry’s top planners as they execute the safest possible in-person events. From groups as small as 100 people to as large as 2,000, helping meetings professionals implement their Duty of Care has become our specialty.
This front-row seat has allowed us to see some of the best strategies that not only keep attendees safe but make them feel comfortable. We’ve pulled together some of the top tips that you can incorporate into your next event. When we work together to implement these best practices, we’ll keep the events industry’s positive momentum going. Here are the highlights:
Staying in touch with your attendees throughout the process is vital to a successful meeting. Perhaps the most crucial part of the process is ensuring you’re sharing details before they ever step foot on site. When your group knows what they can expect, and what is expected of them, you’ll all hit the ground running.
Pro Tip: We’ve seen great success when planners work with companies like SafeAccess. This innovative company gathers and communicates data and policy acceptance, and ensures compliance with the guidelines you set. Attendees can review and accept your code of conduct requirements which means less confusion, question answering, and housekeeping notes for you. They’re basically you’re Duty of Care managers. We’ve found that events that implement this kind of policy result in ready, informed, and most importantly, relaxed attendees.
Giving attendees room to spread out is vital to slowing the spread of COVID. Start by booking larger rooms than you normally would, then limit the number of seats and allow distancing between tables. You can also section off every other chair in auditoriums so people know to spread out.
Pro Tip: During a “speed dating” session at one of Northstar’s recent events, chairs were set at either end of six-foot tables automatically enforcing social distancing. Guests moved around the room for their one-on-one sessions without confusion. They also stacked cloth napkins at one end of the table so in between sessions, the top napkin was removed and dropped into a small hamper under the table. This created a clean space to lean or write on. Genius!
There is no more effective way of reducing the spread of COVID than mask-wearing. Period. While you may encounter some resistance, making this a requirement at your next event will seriously lower your risk level as a planner.
If you want your attendees to wear a mask, include it in your code of conduct that they acknowledge before arrival. It also is imperative that you and your staff wear masks at all times. Setting the example for your attendees is important for wide adoption and also serves as a visual reminder should they forget to put one on.
Pro Tip: One nice touch is to include small sachets at tables to store masks when dining so they don’t have to lay on the table. You can even sell them as part of a branded sponsorship package.
Preventing crowding at an event is a tall order. After all, events are where people are meant to gather. Of course, it is possible with some planning. Try modifying layouts to help with people flow or install guides and signs that support physical distancing. Take note of bottlenecks and work to widen the space or reroute crowds on the following days. You’ll have to stay diligent on this one but if you and your staff are working together, success is possible.
Pro Tip: Station staff along walkways to help guide traffic and nudge groups who have stopped to chat.
One of the safest ways to protect attendees is to hold as many events as possible outdoors. Luckily, outdoor meeting space was already a hot commodity before the pandemic and facilities were implementing al fresco gathering spaces left and right. Take advantage of that trend with outdoor meals or lectures. Hold your welcome reception poolside or plan for a group breakfast on a rooftop. Attendees will appreciate the fresh air and change of scenery.
Pro Tip: If outdoors simply isn’t an option, consider improving ventilation. The CDC offers a number of ways to do this here.
Even the most stringent protocols can’t avoid a COVID case. It’s no secret that manual contact tracing is inaccurate and time-consuming, not to mention expensive. By the time your team has gathered all of the data and alerted the group, the contagion could have spread exponentially.
Pro Tip: Avoid a catastrophe by implementing digital contact tracing like Volan’s. If you receive a confirmed case, a ranked list of who is most exposed can be pulled in seconds and your attendees can be contacted that very same day.
Copyright Volan Technology 2021