Safe Meetings and Events: Your post-COVID-19 Playbook
As vaccination programmes gather pace in many destinations around the world, live meetings and events are tentatively starting up again but with a forensic focus on health and safety.
Here are 10 “must dos” to ensure the safety and well-being of your attendees, while keeping your meetings and events engaging, motivational and inspiring.
1. Know the Rules
Make sure you are familiar and aligned with the public health guidelines for meetings and events that apply in your event destination, city, or country. For meetings and events here in Ireland, the general public health guidance should be known as well as the specific guidance for conferences, meetings and events as prepared by Fáilte Ireland. Also, make sure to request any venue specific guidelines.
2. Reassure Attendees
Heading towards a post Covid era, pre-event communication is more important than ever. While many attendees will be chomping at the bit to get back to face-to-face meetings, others will be reluctant, uncertain and even fearful. The event should be planned with these attendees in mind, adding extra health security measures to mitigate anxiety and help all attendees be at ease. These measures must be communicated well in advance of the event with opportunities for unsure attendees to seek clarification and reassurance.
At Croke Park, we’re recommending planners share our Event Safety Policy with all suppliers and attendees in advance of their events.
3. Use technology to minimize physical contact
Digital transformation has been a buzz word for years now but, post-Covid, our live and in-person meeting and events need the same digital make-over. We need to leverage technology – particularly smart phones and tablets – to, minimise physical contact by deploying on-site QR codes, e-tickets, on-line agendas and schedules, on-site signage, contactless payment etc.
Thankfully many event apps are well positioned to handle these tasks and venues like Croke Park, have a ubiquity of connected digital screens and IPTV.
4. Safety Announcement
No plane takes to the skies without the obligatory safety announcement and some airlines have turned this perfunctory routine into an art form – British Airways partners with Comic Relief, for example, to deliver these important announcements in a humorous and engaging way. No point in re-inventing the wheel here. From the get-go, make your public health announcements truly memorable with appropriate humour!
5. Devise a safe (and fun) greeting
Initially, at least, social distancing will be de riguer for live events. Physical contact – handshakes, hugs, kisses – will be off limits but could be replaced by a flourish such as a bow, a namaste style greeting, or a simple wave. Following point 4 above, give the greeting a memorable name – the Croke Park Shout Out, the Hogan Hug, the Canal End Kiss – and you’ll turn an awkward moment into a fun encounter with company branding an added extra!
6. Clashing on Compliance? Again, humour is your friend
Let’s face it, none of us likes being told what to do. Some of us turn mean and nasty when faced with orders or commands. At a recent in-person event in Colorado, event agency Unbridled provided constant reminders about attention to health security without alienating or irritating attendees. They used clever slogans to highlight the need for care and precaution, putting a smile, rather than a frown on the faces of attendees. Be funny, but not flippant!
7. Face Masks - Getting Personal
Along with social distancing, mask wearing is likely to persist as we resume in-person meetings and events. It didn’t take the fashion houses long to turn the mask into a haute couture accessory. Meetings and events organisers, too, can turn this proverbial sow’s ear into a silk purse by deploying a little imagination – brand the masks with catchy slogans that re-enforce health & safety guidelines or do a CSR reach-out and engage students from your local Art college to create a series of masks specifically for the event.
8. Food - a whole new scene
Pre-Covid, food was a core focus for event organisers and creative food offerings often became an event’s defining moment. Post-Covid, it’s no different. Covid regulations may limit how food is served at meetings and events but Covid poses no limits on creativity. For the time being, buffet lines with uncovered food displays are off limits but gourmet picnics, bento boxes, airline-style trays are allowed. Set food times can lead to queues and congestion so why not dispense with them and allow a more free flowing schedule with food available in to-go boxes all around the venue?
9. Advance communication - be a partner!
Some corporate planners hold back on sharing their vision for the event as it may be still a work in progress, not fully signed off by senior management. But the more event agencies, venues, and suppliers know about the event from the get-go, the more they can guide and assist you. Remember, we are the professionals. This is what we do for a living. Treat your suppliers as partners and involve us in the concept development for the event.
At Croke Park we have been working on public service events, a hybrid educational campus and a wide range of virtual event over that last year. We have reimagined our operations and our experience can save you time and money. And we are dying to get planning with you!
10. Engagement with Content via Technology
Organisations now have 15 months’ experience connecting attendees via virtual platforms, using on-line functionality like chat boxes, polls, quizzes, emoticon responses etc to engage disparate audiences. But all this virtual still works in a live setting. In fact, the combination of live and virtual interaction makes for very powerful engagement with the virtual platform ensuring that the voice of the silent majority is recognised and heard.
We’re all looking forward to getting back to events and it’s good to see examples from around the globe of events getting back on track.
Contact us to hear more about our initiaitves to suppport you getting your events back on track and read more about safe events at Croke Park.