Slowly we are starting to see the light at the end of the tunnel with the easing of restrictions in some states. Events and conferences are starting to take place after the devastating effects Covid-19 has had on our industry. As events resume, government guidelines and expectations will continue to change and the events industry will need to adapt to these changes.
As outlined by Congrex, social distancing will have the greatest impact on events now and in to the near future and outlined the opportunities for reviving the event industry including:
For an industry that thrives in human interactions, physical distancing will be a headache for event planners; they will have to book a large venue to host a small number of invitees. The event design will also have to adopt a new seating arrangement. For instance, planners might be forced to rethink seating, like forgoing the theatre style and go for a U-style, which allows for more distance while promoting conversations.
If the venue does not offer a big space, organisers will require cameras in various rooms so that the speaker can reach a broader audience.
Apart from keeping invitees the required distance apart, you may have to find creative ways to register guests on the registration desk. If you must register invitees, you can use physical signage to show the correct distance in queues. You should also avoid handing out badges for a while. Alternatively, you can ask visitors to print badges at home and self-scan at the registration booth.
Catering and Self-Serving Buffet
Event organisers like having a food or coffee buffet for guests in between sessions. However, catering will change since self-serving buffets put guests at risk. If event organisers have to plan for seated dining with the specified physical distance, the cost of food and beverage will skyrocket even with tight budgeting. Coffee and tea stations are a significant part of a conference, but after COVID-19, they may be a thing of the past. Instead of cups and coffee mugs, disposable cups will be preferable. But what about all the sustainability efforts then?
The major draws for face-to-face events are the socialising and networking components. It is fair to say that it would be too risky to attempt social activities soon. It will increase the chances of handshaking and mass gathering, which is against distancing requirements. However, event organisers can structure and guide networking sessions. For instance, encouraging seated interactions will ensure adequate physical distancing while having a conversation.
Mobile Apps and Social Media
Minimal physical contact prohibits passing around a microphone during an interactive session. Luckily, social media pages and mobile apps can make up for the shortcoming. An attendee can post a question or comment using the event hashtag. It will also be best to allow guests to send questions to the speaker’s screen using their phones without jeopardising anyone’s health.
Hosting events will be challenging but with the right guidelines in place and an approved Covid Safety Plan, we will be able to continue, planning, attending and hosting face to face events. It's time to embrace the change and adapt to the new 'normal' that will evovle in the future.