On-site event safety and health is a hot topic among planners who want to “get back to work,” however, with a greater due diligence at play, program owners and event stakeholders need to understand the risk and the overwhelming opportunity of meeting face-to-face. Meetings are not an addition to work; they are an integral part of how we work.
With the current state of uncertainty, organizations must be able to clearly and concisely communicate WHY a program/event must occur in-person. If you choose to host an event during a pandemic, your attendees not only have to understand the compelling reason for them to attend, but they also need to be assured that the organization and everyone involved in planning and executing an in-person event has their concerns and safety top-of-mind.
Event Health & Safety Communication Plans
Communication plans will still be a much-needed component to your event marketing efforts, however, segmented communication specific to health safety and security are going to be vital in order to get ahead of any lingering concerns of your team members or attendees.
A plan must be built to earn the trust of your attendees. You must acknowledge the range of their concerns they may have and involve them in the mission and common purpose surrounding your event. The attendee’s mindsets are going to range from skeptic, to balanced, to concerned and a comprehensive communications plan must acknowledge the range of barriers, concerns or fears. It will be vital to survey your attendees throughout the life cycle of the meeting – from the initial invitation all the way to a post-event survey.
Communications need to be everywhere in both digital and physical forms. The elements need to be clear, direct, transparent, authoritative, and simple.
Discovery how by downloading our Free Health & Safety (H&S) Communications Planning Checklist to see questions to consider in order to connect and reassure your attendees:
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Data is Critical to Decision-Making
Data overload is real. Inboxes are being flooded from many different sources with information. For your event, it is important to pick a few reliable data sources and use them throughout the planning process to assess the ongoing risk without additional confusion.
M&IW recommends data sources such as Johns Hopkins Coronavirus Resource Center (https://coronavirus.jhu.edu/), US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention COVID-19 (https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html) or the location country equivalent and the location (city/state) department of public health.
Now more than ever, internal data resources, such as your Risk Management and/or Security departments security departments should be involved in the development. evaluation and execution of the safety protocols throughout the event.
What to Expect During Venue Sourcing & Negotiations
Hotels have done an amazing job responding to the rapidly changing landscape brought on by the pandemic. All the major chains have brought cleanliness and sanitation from “behind the scenes” to front and center. We have learned over the last 10 (!) months that the COVID virus spreads primarily through aerosolization and not as much on surfaces, which may shift the focus to air handling and circulation systems, however cleaning and sanitization practices are still going to be important and should be visible. This will provide attendees with peace of mind that their well-being is of paramount importance.
With an increased focus on safety, cleanliness and physical distancing, planners and decision-makers will need to evaluate a venue’s ability to provide adequate space, for both indoor and outdoor event spaces. We know that being outside allows for better air circulation and spacing, so the ability to have meals and even break-outs in the great outdoors is going to be important.
Related Topic: Events > Forward — Before You Source Your Next Event
Managing Your Attendees On-Site
It’s all a matter of thinking through all the steps – from attendees leaving their home all the way through returning home and what we can do to make sure they feel safe and secure.
Since March, the M&IW team have been responding to this rapidly changing world and we certainly aren’t stopping! Our focus in the planning stages is to understand the WHY (why is this event important and needs to occur in-person) and be able to consult with stakeholders on HOW to carry it out in a safe manner. We work with clients to define the policies that will be in effect at the program (i.e., masks, physical distancing), how to communicate those to the attendees and all support staff, and what to do if the policies aren’t followed.
Staying attendee-centric and walking through the entire program “in their shoes” helps us come up with ideas and recommendations for getting together safely.
- How do we make the arrival experience as touchless as possible?
- What PPE is required and how is it being distributed?
- How is traffic moving through the common areas and into and out of meeting rooms?
- What signage is needed and where should it be placed?
- What is the best way to set up the meeting room to ensure proper distancing? It’s no longer 2 people at a 6’ table…what furniture options are available so every attendee can be at their own “pod?”
- What health and safety services are being offered in advance of travel, on-site and post-program? M&IW is proud to partner with InHouse Physicians (IHP) to provide on-site medical staff and daily health questionnaires.
It’s not only the attendees who are involved in making sure everyone stays safe, but also the vendor partners that are supporting the program. M&IW staff works with others (i.e., ground transportation and production companies) to ensure safety protocols are being followed.
At this critical time, having a professional team on-site to support the overall program will be important. The M&IW team consults with clients to outline the roles and responsibilities of the on-site staff and makes recommendations for how many people are needed to ensure a smooth, success event.
Take a look at the M&IW Resource Center to see more content supporting the return of in-person events.