During the past year and a half, many event planners found themselves in an unlikely scenario: with no live events to plan. The onset of the Coronavirus outbreak meant an elimination of physical gatherings and extreme pivot to virtual experiences. With the hope that in-person meetings would soon make their return, our team turned to the Event Leadership Institute's Pandemic Meeting & Event Design Certificate to learn how the pandemic has since changed event planning and how they could best prepare for this new future.
Here, we talk with four of our events experts who took the 6-week course to understand how meeting and event planners can arm themselves with skills to keep up with the industry's evolution.
An Overview of Pandemic Meeting & Event Design Certification Course
Risk management has always been a crucial part of event planning but the pandemic has brought to light new and necessary precautions to make it safe to meet again - now and indefinitely. The Pandemic Meeting & Event Certification course educated event professionals on rethinking the areas most affected by the pandemic, such as, venue protocols, contract clauses, and food and beverage. Moving forward, any successful on-site strategy should have these considerations incorporated each step of the way.
Q&A with BCD M&E's Certified Event Planners
Understanding that their role had forever been altered, these members of our team jumped at the chance to learn through the Event Leadership Institute's course. In this quick Q&A, they share how the training has helped them prepare for our industry's new future.
Has the training made you think differently about the life cycle of events?
Sammi Jo Phillips
Yes, it has! It has made me think of outcomes and outliers to the average elements onsite and how we can all be safe onsite. It has made me think personally of how much more details needs to be added to onsite documents and running orders moving forward.
Yes, the training has definitely made me think differently about the life cycle of events. We of course now have to take a different approach when planning an event as there are far more ‘layers’ to an event ie. taking into consideration new health and safety regulations we must adhere to both on a local/international level, planning for crisis (COVID outbreaks), keeping risk level to a minimum (planning best destinations with COVID as a factor ie. current rates of infection), post event feedback (did delegates feel safe).
Senior Project Manager
Senior Project Manager
Definitely, there is a lot more involved when arranging a meeting. There are things to take into consideration such us testing, PPE, delegate’s and colleague’s safety among others.
What advice would you give to someone planning an event in the current climate?
SJP: For virtual events – be prepared for lots of technical questions, be ready to understand the tool/ website the congress is using. For in person events – ensure you understand the current restrictions in the country you are going to, as this widely changes dependant on the outbreak numbers. It is normal to be more nervous now than before, as many have not yet experienced an event in the new normal, including myself!
IB: I would say to be cautious as COVID-19 is everchanging and as we know can have a rapid effect if not dealt with caution. Always prepare for the worse ie. have a POA/crisis management document to comply with to ensure everyone understands how to react in an outbreak.
CML & MW: We would highly recommend asking for a clear brief of what is needed to be able to do a good research and have an understanding of what is permitted and achievable in the event country destination. It is also recommended to negotiate attrition deadlines that cover the ever- changing situation we are currently living in. Guide the client and ask for flexibility on their requests.
In one word, how do you personally feel about the future of events?
SJP: Right now – confusing. What will the full ‘new’ normal look like for large scale events? Only time and experience will tell!
IB: Positive. The first few events I attend I may be slightly apprehensive about, however with more people being vaccinated and becoming educated on how to avoid/ minimise risk of infection (face masks etc) I feel that we can start to look to a more positive future of events. There are always challenges in the event industry and this is just another!
CML & MW: Uncertain.
How has the training improved your confidence of delivering safe events during a pandemic?
SJP: It’s improved my confidence in the understanding of what we should do or look to do at live events, but it did cause more nerves overall about how much more we need to think of in the ‘worst case’ scenario pot!
IB: It has helped improve my confidence in delivering safe events as it educated me on many different aspects of an event during COVID ie. how to engage with a guest who is behaving negatively towards COVID-19 (something I was actually nervous of).
CML & MW: It has definitely helped us to grow our experience and knowledge and think of different facts, needs and how to deal with different scenarios that we have not experienced before.
Do your clients have more confidence holding events with you leading the delivery?
SJP: One current stakeholder team we work with are eager to go onsite, as they are traveling this year to Scotland. Their team are excited to go, and more teams are, however many groups we speak to are still happy to stick to virtual as it saves them money and reduces risk!
IB: I haven’t actually delivered a face-to-face event yet since the training, however my first f2f event where I can put this training into use will be in October 2021 and as it stands the client seems confidence in the team supporting delivery.
CML & MW: We believe our clients are taking our advise and have confidence on us giving them the best guidance in terms of travel restrictions and COVID regulations as well as getting the best possible attritions for them.