As our industry cautiously braces itself for the next steps in meetings and events, we’re beginning to explore new ways to approach programs. Previously, we discussed potential changes in contract negotiations to help guide conversations in this new future. Here, our planners discuss factors to re-evaluate in providing safe and responsible events for attendees. Continue reading to learn future considerations for meetings and events, post COVID-19.
for planning a meeting or event
We know the future of executing in-person meetings and events will be different, just by taking a few considerations into mind: protocols for social distancing, content delivery, technology innovations, health/wellness/safety considerations, etc.
When planning a meeting or event, whether internal or client facing, there will be an expectation on behalf of the attendee, as well as your organization, that the overall well-being of the individuals is in your hands. It is becoming more and more of a shared responsibility between the meeting owner, the venue and the attendee. Each venue will have published protocols on how they are going to help care for your staff and attendees for the duration of the event. In addition to those guidelines, there will be some new areas to develop:
What new event management logistics should you prepare for?
- Start by ensuring there is alignment on the purpose and objective of your event. This will help anchor any decisions regarding modifications that may need to be made
- Clearly and frequently communicate with your attendees in Know Before You Go communications regarding any helpful or required information
- Ensure your company has enough PPE based on the current guidelines and plan for delivery and distribution at the meeting site. Note: some hotels may distribute masks upon arrival
Attendee health and safety
- Consider staggering breaks to avoid mingling with other groups, as well as start and end times
- Clients to communicate that if any attendees are immuno-compromised, they should consult with their health care provider to get additional guidance
- Consider adjustments to your plans for invitees that can attend in person but may need accommodation, or attendees that cannot attend but must still participate or receive the content
- Ensure attendees provide emergency contact details in registration
- Monitor where attendees are coming from and ensure any temporary restriction on travel from specific regions is well known by the affected attendees and taken into consideration during planning
- Ensure any international travelers are familiar with and prepared for whatever the current requirements are for entry into the destination country, e.g. proof of recent negative test or proof of vaccination in due course
- Monitor any changes to your corporate travel policy for any possible impact to headcounts or accommodations that may need to be made
- Encourage U.S. attendees, if traveling internationally, to enroll in STEP for updates
- Request the hotel and venue guidelines and policies and have a partnership-based conversation to mutually agree on final protocol to ensure attendee’s health & safety
- Familiarize yourself with your hotel/venue guest journey modifications such as temperature checking upon arrival, contact-less check-in/out, limits to the number of guests per elevator, etc.
- Establish an onsite protocol/next steps with staff and hotel for anyone not feeling well
- Locate the nearest hospitals and pharmacies to your hotel to ensure fast response for anyone not feeling well. Make this part of your meeting level emergency plan
The increase importance of crisis management
Equally important to being prepared for new logistics, is having an established crisis management plan in order. Before COVID-19, we were managing other emergency situations that may arise during the operation of a meeting or event. Managing viral spread is one more to incorporate into your onsite crisis communication plan.
Emergency situations may occur at a global, regional or local level and require swift action and a thorough response and communication strategy. If your organization has a crisis communication strategy in place, an agency will be able follow that plan. If your organization does not have a strategy in place, work with an agency that has the expertise to develop one with you. Now is the time to put one in place.
One of the key points of a plan is to provide guidelines and appropriate contact information for an employee base and all contractors. Different types of emergencies will require different responses, but in general, an emergency is defined as any incident that poses an immediate risk to health, life, property or environment or a situation which has the potential to affect the short or long-term safety of clients, attendees and/or staff.
A crisis management plan should outline basic action steps to address and respond to emergency situations that may arise during the operation of a meeting or event. Its intent is to provide a general understanding of response measures and suggested steps to be taken by staff in an emergency. This plan is not the sole solution to all emergencies and is not intended to supersede instructions provided by official emergency personnel including, but not limited to; police, fire, military, official government agency representatives and/or hotel/venue security staff. The priority is always human safety above material loss.
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