This year, businesses of every variety turned to creative solutions to keep themselves afloat. The events industry, thanks to limits on crowds, social interactions, games, and gatherings, has had to evolve and adapt in ways many of us never even thought was possible.
Events that center on large, in-person components have naturally been hard hit, but many took to virtual events to ensure that their function still went ahead but with the safety of attendees as the ultimate priority. These fabulous event alternatives have served many well, but event planners and brand and marketing managers are now starting to wonder how will we navigate the events space once the world re-opens once more and how can we implement social distancing measures in our future events?
Mitigate the risks at your next event
As some countries loosen their lockdown rules others are tightening them once more amid second waves. At this point, it’s impossible to know what to expect next, but when restrictions do ease up, it’s crucial to be prepared so that you can host events in the safest way possible.
How? A good place to start is to understand how you can encourage social distancing at your future events. Here are a few ideas
Think carefully about the room set up and event spaces
One of the best ways to ensure attendees maintain social distancing at your future events is to set the room up in a way where attendees have little choice in the matter. If you’re planning a seated event, you could place the seats at a safe distance from each other and ensure the aisles are sizeable or assign seats that can be used and mark those that need to be left open to enforce social distancing. If you’re planning a tabletop event, you can make sure that the tables are placed far apart from each other and that they are big enough for there to be some space between attendees.
Try to avoid venues that have multiple rooms that people have to go into or pass through and venues with small spaces where social distancing would be difficult. Instead, search for venues with large floor spaces, high ceilings, and open floor plans. If it would suit your event type, location, and the time of year your event is booked for, consider hosting your event at an outdoor venue. The combination of large open spaces and fresh air will help to mitigate transmission risks.
Use masking tape to guide social distancing
Apart from carefully thinking about the setup and venue of your event, you should also consider areas where there may be queues—such as outside bathrooms, by food stalls, at the entrance of the venue, etc.—and place tape on the floor marking off where people can stand (a safe distance from each other). You’ve probably already seen similar setups at grocery stores or other public spaces, so people are already familiar with it and it will remind them to keep to the recommended markers. You can also use markers and signs to guide the direction of movement in your venue (at entries and exits as an example) to better control how people move and limit crowding.
Ask event staff to help monitor guests
As much as none of us want to “enforce” social distancing rules, it’s vital to ensure that attendees are doing their part to mitigate the risk of a potential virus spread—after all, even with markers and signs, it’s fairly common for some attendees to forget or ignore them. That’s why we think it’s a good idea to ask your event staff to be vigilant give the attendees some gentle reminders to keep their distance from others, wear their masks, and do their best to play their part in limiting risks when necessary.
Limit the number of in-person attendees
By considering how to space out table placements and seats, it’s probably already obvious that you simply won’t be able to accommodate the numbers of attendees that you might have pre-COVID-19. Ultimately, this is in everyone’s best interest and, hopefully, is something that will have to be managed temporarily. Smaller events, in any case, are better than no events at all, and with the incredible technology available to us, you can add a virtual component and transform your event into a hybrid event for greater reach (if it would translate well and makes sense to do so).
Think carefully about how to structure multi-day events
Another thing to keep in mind when planning your event is that because the lifespan of the virus is still in many ways unclear, it might not be a good idea to host events that span over consecutive days. Rather leave days in between each session that allow for the virus to die-off as well as for intensive cleaning efforts with all the correct protective equipment (PPE masks, gloves, etc.) to take place.
Provide supplies for prevention
To ensure your event is as safe as possible, even if the occasional attendee doesn’t stick to social distancing protocols, it’s a good idea to ensure that people have easy access to supplies for prevention. Setup and takedown crews would naturally need to be protected, but also ensure your attendees have easy access to hand sanitizer (either in the form of touch-free sanitization stations or gifted branded minis), tissues (to help discourage people from touching their faces), and enough bins to throw their used gloves, tissues, masks, and sanitizer bottles into.
It’s also ideal to choose venues with no-touch sinks and automatic towel and soap dispensers but if that’s not possible, then just make sure the bathrooms are well stocked.
Communicate protocols with your attendees
Make sure that your event attendees know what to expect regarding safety regulations at your event and how they are required to act to ensure that the event is as safe as possible. You can do this through emails, marketing communication, or promotional materials. However you decide to do it, make sure that your attendees understand the procedures you will have in place.
As part of this communication let them know that there will be people enforcing social distancing protocols, that they should avoid all physical contact with other attendees (from handshakes to high fives), and that they need to be wearing masks at all times.
Make sure you also communicate to attendees that they will be screened on entry. Perhaps also consider creating a space that can be used as an isolation area where staff or attendees who are feeling sick can wait while arrangements are being made for them to leave the event safely. In this isolation area, there should be disposable masks, gloves, and sanitizer readily available.
At the end of the day, the clearer your safety and social distancing protocols are for your attendees, the more likely they’ll be to stick to them.
Re-evaluate whether an in-person event is actually a good idea
As much as we would all love to return to a sense of normality once more, it’s vital to err on the side of caution when it comes to planning your future events. If in-person events start to happen more frequently but you feel that the social distancing and safety measures that you could put in place aren’t enough, then consider putting your event on pause or hosting it in the virtual space instead.
Bring in the experts
Hosting any type of event—live or virtual—right now might feel like a daunting task. That’s why hiring an event management company to help you navigate these trying times is a fabulous idea. At The Event Production Company, we’ve been hosting events of every variety for over 29 years and we can definitely help you to make your next event a huge success. Get in touch with us today to discuss how we can help you.