Onsite Safety: How to Keep Your Event Safe Post-Pandemic
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Hot topic alert. Meeting safety. This has been a topic near and dear to my heart as a live-events planner whose entire career and business were upended at the start of the pandemic. No amount of Zoom calls will replace the human need for live meetings and interactions, but how to meet safely and enable attendees’ confidence in their health safety is the question we are now facing as meeting planners.
What did we learn these past two years? What do we take away from having to rethink the way face-to-face meetings, events, and conferences are produced? A LOT. And it’s still ever-changing and evolving.
There is not a one size fits all solution. Aside from state and local governance which vary dramatically, there are also the company’s policies as it relates to risk.
Event Management Still Requires Adaptability
Fluidity is the name of the game when producing meetings and events. As with any plan, it’s as good as it gets until it has to change. Keeping a plan in place with alternative scenarios is key. Understanding and being familiar with the state, county, and township rules is key. But also knowing your audience and their comfort level.
PPE did not become a household topic until the beginning of the pandemic and now it is commonplace but what it has taught us is not all masks are created equally, nor are hand sanitizer or cleaning products. We learned that distance matters. We learned that we CAN follow science and use common sense. And we learned that we CAN meet smart.
The key to meeting “smart” is communication and upfront conversations. Deciding as an organization what your meeting or event rules will be as it relates to COVID and how to meet. Of course, this is state and region-specific as well. However, if you are planning to hold a meeting in a region with no mask mandate however your company is requiring them, you need to communicate this to the hotel, to the attendees often and frequently.
This is a duty of care. We are event professionals, we ensure that the cords are taped down so there are no tripping issues, we make sure the stairs to the stage have hand railings, along with this is the care that is required to ensure we can meet smart, provide a level of confidence for attendees to show up and provide a space that offers an environment which has been thought out.
If the pandemic has taught us anything, we have learned that people inherently want to, for the most part, attend in-person events. Following the CDC guidelines in conjunction with local health guidelines as well as the organization’s guidelines ensure that we can return to in-person meetings in a post-pandemic world with property safety guidelines and safety procedures.
In just a few short years we have learned so much about event safety, beyond what we as event organizers already knew. A standard meeting set-up has taken on a whole new meaning as it relates to social distancing and what is acceptable proper spacing. But these changes are still part of what event planners are responsible to manage as with all safety measures at an event, conference, or meeting.
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Safety Protocols are Evolving
Setting the regulations for the event upfront is crucial to its success. Deciding which safety measures are going to be in place, whether, only vaccinated people can attend or people that show either a vaccine card or negative covid test, and which tests are acceptable. As with all ancillary services that are utilized to produce an event, a strategic partner well versed in the safety of meetings is also crucial. Our company established a strategic partnership with Event Farm which has teamed up with ClearPass Health to enable our on-site teams to validate vaccination records and CLEAR compliance for registered attendees. We assist people in navigating the CLEAR app and had real-time visibility into how many attendees had fulfilled the pre-event survey health requirements.
With such partnerships, marketers can utilize all the event technology under the Event Farm umbrella and apply it to the safety precautions required to deliver events, meetings, and trade shows for large numbers of people. The safety suite of technology that we utilize with the Event Farm relationship can include contact tracing, SMS messaging to attendees that opt into the communication; mask management, event check-in, and validation of records all the while maintaining the privacy and ensuring a safe return to the live events industry.
The live events industry will come back and be successful. It will require a bit more event strategy and planning but it’s possible to create a safe space where we can meet in person.