2020; the year the world as we knew it changed forever. The global pandemic came with strict measures to combat the spread of C0VID-19.
While everyone was on lockdown, businesses and individuals found ways to get through. Technology and innovation became key to survival, and subsequently, virtual events and remote working became the norm.
Undoubtedly, the event industry was egregiously affected by the spread of COVID-19. Many events were cancelled, and others were hosted virtually.
Yet, even as the world still feels the impact of the pandemic, there is no doubt that human interaction must continue for an economy to survive. Therefore, although maintaining hygienic policies, in-person person events have since returned.
Most businesses have gone back to attending events in person and in physical office spaces. Also, hybrid events and meetings are here to stay even as event venues have devised strategies to aid the return of in-person events and conferences.
At The Zone, strategic structures and facilities have been established to ensure safe and seamless in-person events.
This article outlines structures to ensure a safe in-person event and highlights pitfalls to watch out for when planning in-person events.
Recommended Post: A Quick Guide to Corporate Event Planning
Best Practices to Consider When Hosting In-Person Events
1. Have Covid Policies
One important way to show your guests that attending in-person events are safe is to ensure that safety measures and regulations are up to date.
Draft policies in line with the approved stipulations from your local authority, follow social distancing and general event rules and restrictions and communicate these policies to your clients before contracts are signed and money is exchanged.
Having guidelines is one thing; upholding them is another. Endeavour to maintain your policies towards all guests. Mask for one, is a mask for all.
2. Communicate Safety Measures in Detail
An essential component of hosting an in-person event involves communicating safety measures to guests. As an event planner, never assume that your guests will just know.
State health protocols your attendees must adhere to onsite. Include mask mandates, temperature screening, and hand sanitisation, amongst others. Both guests and staff need to know that their safety is being taken seriously.
Considering that the pandemic can trigger anxiety in some individuals, it is always advised that information is relayed with a certain level of calmness.
Guests may not always want to be reminded constantly of the pandemic; nonetheless, they also want to know their safety is paramount.
Therefore, it is advisable to outline basic safety procedures and measures in the pre-event communications to your guests, including social media materials and the website.
If event professionals have learned anything from the pandemic, it is clear that many things can change within a certain period. So, plan to prevent the potential spread of any virus and communicate your plan vividly.
3. Make Provision for Virtual Attendees
While most organisations are returning to in-person events, the pandemic revealed a level of comfort the world will not entirely disregard.
Bearing in mind that there are numerous reasons attendees will have to join virtually, such as distance, multiple engagements, etc., event planners and space providers must ensure to provide services to accommodate a hybrid event/meeting.
Digital screens, video conferencing tools, projector screens, and a host of other equipment will come in handy to ensure the overall success of your in-person and hybrid event.
4. Leverage Onsite Signage
This refers mainly to facility owners than event planners. Leverage engaging strategic signage and designs by placing them around your facility.
For instance, one signage at The Zone says, “this facility is regularly sanitised”. Research has demonstrated that a large percentage of the human mind is attracted to visual content and remembers it better.
Therefore, guests would likely understand and recall onsite signage indicating mask reminders, social distancing, no handshake and other safety precautions that must be adhered to strictly.
Having this signage is very important. It is also an excellent way to remind your clients that you are compliant with the general rules and regulations laid down by local or international authorities.
5. Initiate Event Contract
(Again, this has to do primarily with event space providers). There will always be a certain level of uncertainty for the event and hospitality industry, especially as we gradually embrace the return of in-person events.
As an event space provider, clients will always look for facilities that tick the boxes in line with the COVID-19 health and safety measures.
This may mean that they inquire about the same event from several vendors to provide themselves with several options from which they can choose.
Therefore, it is advisable always to initiate an event contract to protect your organisation from unnecessary cancellations during the event. Many hospitality companies suffered direly from cancellations during the pandemic.
Most were forced to do outrageous refunds to clients when the pandemic struck, leaving the company to bear the loss alone.
Hence, a contract should be drafted and acknowledged by both parties. The goal is not just to protect your company but to show that you are a making commitment and you mean it.
Ensure that your company keeps their side of the bargain by providing top-notch service. Make sure to factor cancellation clauses from pandemics or epidemics in the contract; we do not wish to repeat 2020 but do not forget that it’s better safe than sorry.
6. Ask for Feedback
Post-event surveys are a crucial aspect of every business in that it provides feedback that helps increase organisations’ success.
As we embrace the return of in-person events, it is mandatory to measure reviews of the attendees. Satisfied guests – and event planners – are likely to refer others and promote future events if they enjoyed attending the event in person.
Consider adding post-event questions like: how did you feel about our COVID-19 measures? Were the safety procedures appropriately communicated? How were the sanitary conditions of the environment? etc.
These surveys are beneficial and can help your team correct some mistakes and strengthen the communication of the laid down rules to suit your customer’s preference.
Now that you know what to do to guarantee a smooth in-person event, here is a quick list of what not to do.
6 Pitfalls to Watch Out for When Planning an In-Person Event.
1. Underestimating Hygiene
Let’s face it – amongst the many things COVID-19 taught us, sanitation is more important than we initially regarded it to be. Hence, as we return to in-person events, resist the temptation to ignore sanitary procedures.
Hand washing, sanitising and disinfecting of certain areas are essential. While we may have curbed the covid virus, there are still other unforeseen germs and viruses we must be prepared for.
2. Planning Without Maximising the Benefits of In-Person Events
There is so much to benefit from hosting in-person events. However, guests cannot enjoy these benefits if the event is not planned with them in mind.
Why physical? Why not virtual? What engagement can only be appreciated physical? Are there prizes for the first ten arrivals?
Strategic planning is especially noteworthy if the event is a recurring one. Guests must feel like they need to be at the venue and not rolling on their beds, laptops on the table and cameras turned off.
Therefore, event planners must have a game plan and highlight significant benefits beyond the overly used “networking”.
3. Failing to do Tech-Check
There is nothing as frustrating as microphones that don’t work or projectors that are not sharp.
Event planners should organise dry runs a day or hours before the main event to ensure that every device needed for a seamless event is in place and functioning well.
4. Assuming Physical Attendance (in Hybrid Events)
There is a popular song that says, “today I don’t feel like doing anything…” and everyone has those days. Therefore, event planners must confirm physical and virtual attendance before the event day.
Virtual attendees can also get personalised log-in codes within a timeframe to ensure that physical attendees do not change their minds on the D day.
Confirming attendance is necessary to aid profitable planning and to avoid wastage of things like food arrangements.
5. Disregarding Media Plans
Another life lesson the 2020 pandemic highlighted was the need to capture and save memories.
Companies were able to look back on past events like strategy sessions, team-bondings, and end-of-the-year parties and reflect on how so much changed.
Media tools also help advertise future events and serve as public relations materials for organisations. Plan to have photographers, videographers or marketing partners around.
You do not need to break a bank. A good phone camera – and of course, a skilled snapper – might be all you need.
6. Picking the Wrong Venue
Finally, the last but probably the most vital pitfall to look out for is opting for the wrong venue. When hosting in-person events, ambience is everything!
The proper venue, the appropriate arrangement, quality of services provided, friendly and committed staff, and adequate car-park, amongst others, are critical to the overall success of your event.
At The Zone…
We provide not just the right ambience but a stimulating environment with world-class & purpose-built facilities and top-notch client service.
Our halls and meeting rooms are suitable for conferences, collaborations, strategy sessions, team-building events and corporate events. We also provide ample car-parking spaces.
Additional resources you will find helpful while planning in-person events.