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| Written by the M&IW Team

Reimagining Room Sets and Event Design [Physical Distancing]

A hot topic among all organizations is how to reimagine public and business spaces for gatherings of all shapes and sizes. For weeks, our Event Design team has been proactive in visualizing space design for the future of in-person live events in top venues around the globe. With considerations from the CDC and other top experts, the M&IW team has leveraged its Event Design software and best practice to reimagine meetings, conferences, and tradeshows with physical distancing protocols, attendee flow, and emergency preparedness plans as top priority.

EventVisualizer is a tool traditionally used to visualize room sets, manage floor planning, showcase large-scale event design and allow clients to do a virtual walkthrough of their event space during the destination research, venue selection, and planning process. This allows planners to ensure venues are right for their needs and impactful for attendees. EventVisualizer also accounts for food and beverage (F&B), and production needs in general sessions, special event spaces and breakouts sessions in a variety of set-up styles (i.e. classroom, theater, crescent, reception, or meals and registration, to name a few).

In the last few weeks, our event designers have worked diligently to visualize how physical distancing will impact event setups. From this exploration, they have developed creative solutions that ensure the square footage of event spaces at top hotels and venues can safely host modified events without compromising health guidelines. As states and countries begin to reopen, people will want to come together mindfully. The need to rethink indoor and outdoor gathering spaces isn’t unique to the events profession. There is a need for schools, vital businesses, and institutions in every community to reconsider their physical layout and traffic patterns. 

To expand on this project, we spoke to M&IW Event Design Managers, Alexander deHilster and Olivier Chevallier to give us a behind-the-scenes look at EventVisualizer and their creative process to showcase the significance in reimagining room sets and event design. 

Q: Why did your team decide to proactively reimagine your room set process?

A: There always has been a need to see the venues as it is going to be used, but 2D doesn’t always tell the entire story. How will my attendees navigate the space? What are my views of the stage, or standing on the stage?  Can speakers adequately see my audience? Are there any obstacles I should consider (i.e. chandeliers, columns, speakers)? Typically, a 2D floor plan only shows a box, although sometimes floor plans do show obstacles such as columns in the room. But our detailed 3D floor plans can show the doors and windows and actual columns, allowing for the correct placement of furniture and keeping sightlines in mind. Additionally, we can alter floors and walls, add moldings and chandeliers, and create views of the outdoors through the windows. Once we add design elements such as linen, floral, furniture, and custom build elements, the venue comes to life! Clients can visualize if the venue and décor complement each other or if we need to make adjustments. By reimagining this process, we can help planners visualize how physical distancing guidelines will affect their event spaces in order to help them make important decisions. 

Q: Can you share an example of why this is helpful for event planning and the destination research process? 

A: Quite often, venue capacity charts show the maximum capacity for their spaces without taking into consideration the location of doors or columns, or if the group will need audiovisual and lighting components.  Once staging, lights, sound, pipe and drape, screen and projectors, etc. are added, the actual capacity of the space can be significantly reduced.  Our team can assist planners in seeing how all the elements will realistically come together for their in-person event, and what the true capacity will be once all the elements are considered.  When considering physical distancing impacts and in the future when we can, hopefully, consider normal capacity parameters, EventVisualizer is a valuable tool to help planners make their final venue selections.  

Q:  Would you say Event Design is more important than ever? 

A: Yes, definitely. We can give planners a visualization of how guests will be separated from each other at a healthy distance, how bars and chef attended food stations would work not only by adding the furniture to the floor plan, but also décor elements such as space dividers between attendees and registration staff, bartenders and chefs but also by inserting images of people into the floor plan, to give a better idea of what the attendee experience will be. Our 3D designs can show planners what their guests will see, literally from the moment before they walk through the door or entrance to the event space.  Even without physical distancing requirements, the attendee comfort level and experience, including what they will see as they enter and exit the event space, is a vital part of the planning process.

Q: Can you share some practical applications? 

A: In the immediate future, planners will need to understand how distancing guidelines are going to impact their event capacities.  If an event normally has a general session with 1,000 people, does the planner now need to look at adding satellite rooms that stream the presentations in order to accommodate the same amount of people?  If that isn’t an option, and the planner has to consider hosting a smaller group of attendees, other factors such as F&B spend, and room blocks have to be reconsidered.  

For incentive programs that include a group dinner or awards ceremony, how many people should be seated at a banquet round, and is it still feasible to fit the entire group in the event space?  Or should the planner explore holding the event outdoors and will the weather be appropriate?  Contingency plans will also need to be looked at in a very different way.  

As businesses across the globe prepare to bring people back together, flexibility and space considerations will be top of mind. Patterns in which people move will change and the strategic shifts in planning will lean heavier on destination research, room sets, accessibility, and preparedness. 

To hear more about our Event Design services, visit https://www.meetings-incentives.com/event-services/event-design/ or call 262-835-3553 to speak to an Event Design expert.