As the COVID-19 pandemic continues in the U.S., the Delta variant has left many event teams feeling a bit of whiplash. Scrupulously designed plans to gather in person that seemed safe just a couple months ago now require review, sure-bet sponsors are stalling, and registered attendees are sending worried questions. Fortunately, there are steps you can take to stay in control, keep your event on track, and — most importantly — ensure everyone’s safety:
Communicate all on-site policies and expectations. This is no time to be vague. Let prospective attendees know what to expect when they arrive at the event. Will everyone be asked to wear a mask and/or take a rapid COVID-19 test ? Will capacities for breakout rooms be much smaller than in previous years? Will a beloved social event take a different form? Knowing ahead of time will reassure concerned travelers about your commitment to their safety and encourage them to register with confidence. Meanwhile, any would-be attendees who find the policies do not meet their needs and preferences can make an informed decision to decline to attend and send a colleague in their stead rather than be surprised at the door.
Clear the air. At this point in the pandemic, we know that ample ventilation and other air-freshening measures are critical to keeping attendees, staff, venue workers, and everyone else safe during your event. Fortunately, your host venue should be well informed on its health-related infrastructure; ask about HVAC upgrades, air filters, and possibly portable air purifiers placed in strategic locations. The purifier units can also provide a reassuring visual cue for attendees. If the local weather permits it, consider moving activities outdoors whenever possible. Bonus: Fresh air can help everyone feel perkier, especially those recovering from jet lag from their travel to the event city.
Keep an eye on conditions. As we’ve seen over the past year and a half, the COVID-19 situation can change rapidly on the national, state, and local levels. Sign up for elected officials’ and health departments’ email update lists and news outlets’ topical alerts to stay aware of what is happening in your location (and your event’s location, if it’s different). You can’t get ahead of a change — whether it’s a new temporary mandate, a travel restriction, or a notable emerging trendline — if you aren’t informed. Playing catch-up can result in unneeded stress and sometimes additional expenses, while maximizing your up-to-date knowledge helps everyone, including your attendees, exhibitors, speakers, and internal staffers.
Stay flexible. Event teams have long needed to stay calm and nimble in the face of myriad potential on-site problems, from broken AV equipment to lost booth luggage to blizzards. The best teams apply their experience in expertly responding to changes and challenges to possible pandemic-related event pivots. Despite all plans and precautions, a hybrid or all-virtual event may ultimately become necessary. An event platform that gives you the flexibility to smoothly deliver the event in any form while keeping all of your data, processes, and security intact provides peace of mind. Opt for a provider with plenty of experience helping its clients run successful events of all types and sizes throughout the pandemic.
A reliable crystal ball would certainly make event planning easier these days! But the good news is that no matter what the future brings, with open communication, a little fresh air, an informed approach, and the right technology, you can deliver a successful event — one that safely brings people together and delivers the ROI you’re looking for.