Ryan Costello is the co-founder of Event Farm and Chief Strategy Officer of MemberSuite. Hehas been an event producer and experiential marketer for more than 15, years, workingwith some of the largest brands and agencies in the world including Nike, Google, Yahoo, Microsoft, Adobe, JP Morgan Chase and dozens more.
The vaccine is here, and we are close to moving past this pandemic nightmare. It’s clear that in-person events are on the horizon, and event planners, like myself, are looking forward to hosting them again. However, whether or not attendees are ready to attend again is another question.
In a recent survey conducted by Event Farm, we asked event professionals, “What is your primary concern when planning in-person events amid the COVID-19 pandemic?” 76% of respondents cited attendee safety as a concern. Let that sink in for a minute:Attendee safety.
Being in the events industry for more than 20 years, I can completely relate to that concern. The pandemic turned our industry upside down in a blink of an eye. Despite my eagerness to get back to “normal,” I understand there exists real fear, worry and concern on the part of attendees. So how can we ensure that our guests feel safe at our event during a pandemic?
Here are some tips for how to show your attendees how serious you are about their safety and reassure them that they can come to your event with confidence.
Researching and making informed decisions about event venues is more important than ever before. Ultimately the chosen venue is an extension of you. It’s the place you sourced, vetted and deemed worthy of hosting your guests.
Leading up to your event, use it as an opportunity to share with your attendees why you chose the venue you did and the special precautions they are taking to promote safety.
Hearing from the event organizer about venue safety precautions will provide on-site assurance and demonstrate how every aspect of the event environment is thoughtfully designed with attendees' safety and well-being in mind. Things that will be top-of-mind for your attendees are: ventilation, venue and seating layouts, eating areas, adjusted room capacities, etc.
A safe event can only happen when every person involved does their part to make it safe. Ensure a smooth return of your in-person event by encouraging all staff and attendees to agree and follow a safety-driven code of conduct.
Communicate with your guests what kind of behavior they can expect and what other safety measures they must observe. This will help to address questions such as: Are masks required during the event? How often are common areas being sanitized? What are the social distancing protocols?
Creating this shared sense of responsibility before the event will convey that teamwork is essential to success and affirm that safety is a priority.
As an event planner, you understand how important it is to communicate with your attendees during an event. But with current fluctuating conditions, an on-site communication plan is essential not only for engagement but also in disseminating safety information and protocols.
Familiarize your attendees on how you plan to communicate with them during the event and what kind of messages they should expect. We highly recommend having a text messaging system in place as we’ve found that is, by far, the highest adoption/read rates of any other solution.
The best advice I can give that applies to all event organizers is to BE HUMAN. Think about what you would like to know before attending an in-person event and what safety measures would make you feel comfortable and confident attending.