As the corporate and service sector gets back on track post-COVID-19, a hybrid culture of events and meetings has come into place, but aspects of both have likely forever changed. In the last year, for example, we have seen seminars be replaced by webinars and in-person meetings be replaced by video sessions. As we look forward, conferences, trade shows and board meetings will be organized differently as live interactions are redesigned to fit into the post-COVID-19 era. Even small organizations and companies are apt to conduct business differently as we start functioning with new safety directives.
Things to remember when organizing post-COVID-19 activities:
1. Follow State Health Department and CDC Guidelines: To minimize concerns and increase attendees’ comfort, demonstrate compliance with the most-recent safety recommendations issued by health authorities. Posting a sign that outlines these safety guidelines can also have a great impact, providing ease of mind to attendees by showing that their well-being is important to the host. Also, remember to keep current with public health guidelines as they can vary from state to state and are subject to frequent change.
2. Guests’ Comfort Must Be the Top Priority: To appeal to people on all parts of the spectrum, from those feeling completely at ease in a public setting to those feeling downright anxious, some measures to consider when organizing an event may include:
- Offering simple access to personal protective equipment such as masks
- Creating snack or meal options suitable for takeout
- Following agendas that accommodate individual choice based on people’s differing levels of comfort
- Playing presentations on monitors in foyers and outdoor areas to give attendees ample space and enhance their comfort in a public setting
- Adhering to the 6-foot social-distancing rule by enforcing spacing guidelines
- Providing easy access to sanitization stations by making them present and simple to find throughout the premises
3. Be Aware, Adjust, Absorb and Adapt: During the post-pandemic era, keeping up with safety measures is going to the new global reality. We need to ensure our own awareness of risk, that we have adjusted our behavior by absorbing public health guidelines and are ready to adapt to new scenarios as changes unfold. In other words, the aftermath of the pandemic will prompt us to expect the unexpected.
4. Hire or Invest in Professional Sanitization: Assigning deep cleaning to be handled by experts will further reinforce peace of mind for event attendees.
5. Prepare an Emergency Plan: The prolonged uncertainties of the pandemic make having a backup plan even more important. For example, the backup plan could entail shifting the event to a virtual model. And whenever an in-person event is being organized, be sure to look for venues that offer social-distancing protocols and proper sanitization.
6. Be Ready to Accept the New Normal: All events, whether trade shows or exhibitions, will look completely different compared to previous ones. The new normal will include masks, sanitizers and social distancing, so be ready to organize public gatherings that include these three measures. Keep in mind that the budget must also be planned accordingly to reflect these costs.
7. Virtual Events: Due to COVID-19, on-screen events soared in popularity as they allow people to attend shows, meetings and events safely from afar. Businesses once unable to send their representatives to such events have embraced the ability to attend them on virtual platforms. Some businesses have even decided to permanently switch to virtual platforms, as they boost accessibility and reduce event costs. However, many still believe that virtual events lack the power of interaction that comes from in-person attendance, but we can expect that live events of the future will follow strict health protocols.
In the Future:
At present, certainly, no one knows how long the COVID-19 pandemic will continue to affect the world. However, the businesses that evolve and adapt accordingly are the ones most apt to succeed after the pandemic is contained. Meanwhile, event giveaways and goodie bags may become a thing of the past as branded pens, notepads and stickers get replaced by the “new” goodies: hand sanitizer, masks, gloves and wipes.