How to Plan a Post-COVID Event
Typically, as event planners, we think at least six months ahead with our to-do lists. With the year we’ve just had, it’s tough to plan for even the week before us. Hopefully, with the promise of brighter days ahead, by the Fall of 2021 or Spring in 2022, we may see in-person events again, such as Global PR Summit, DigiMarCon, and TEDxVancouver.
Of course, many factors could impact this, but following the anticipated timing for vaccinations, we’ll see a return to live in-person events soon. The Moonraker PR team shares five things to consider when planning an in-person event in a post-COVID world.
Above all else, you must ensure that your guests and team feel safe when under your care. Even if COVID cases have lowered and things are returning to normal, there may still be a small risk. The last thing you want as event planners is to be responsible for a superspreader event, such as Biogen’s medical conference in Boston, which led to as many as 300,000 COVID-19 cases.
Tips for safe events:
- Check your local health authority guidelines for safety protocols on guest numbers, physical distancing, masking wearing and health screening.
- Include images of people/guests wearing masks in all collateral, content and social posts to help reinforce safety messages.
- Communicate your safety plans and expectations but with hospitality and experience in mind.
- Double-check for any new safety precaution announcements closer to the event date.
It’s likely that some people won’t feel comfortable returning to public events. In that case, it’s best to plan hybrid in-person and virtual experiences if possible. Hybrid events also have the potential of increasing turnout, as many people who aren’t willing to travel and attend in-person may opt to buy a virtual ticket instead.
When planning a hybrid event, consider:
- Your guest’s accessibility needs for virtual content.
- How to maintain engagement with two types of audiences.
- Including virtual speakers that can join the online audience for a special session post-presentation.
Diversity with voices
2020 and 2021 have been powerful years for Black Lives Matter and BIPOC awareness. From large demonstrations to online conversations, a vital lesson is slowly going mainstream: That is, how important it is to listen and learn from the experiences of others, especially when those experiences can be so starkly different from your own. Events play a significant role in the spread of ideas and norms, so as planners we have a responsibility to be a leader.
When planning your next event:
- Be sure you’re including a diversity of experiences and voices with your event’s emcees, speakers, and panel guests.
- Consider inviting a speaker that might not agree with your company’s position or stance so that you can discuss and learn from a variety of perspectives.
- Look within your organization (and outside of senior leadership) for different opinions and voices.
Make it meaningful
Ensure you host a meaningful event experience. From check-in to networking sessions to moving through the venue, think about where you can make guests feel special, add value to their time with you, and ensure that they made the right decision to attend.
Tips for making your event meaningful:
- Look for ways to add entertainment, hospitality and personal touches throughout the day.
- Be careful with the use of arrows and caution signage; instead, be inviting and make it memorable vs scary.
- Use the venue space to create immersive experiences for engagement.
- For those guests attending via zoom, a surprise and delight gift box delivery can help them feel a part of the session.
Now, more than ever, it’s time to support your local suppliers and businesses. Remember, event planners aren’t the only ones eager to return to normal. The pandemic has been particularly hard on small businesses, which make up 98% of all employer businesses in Canada. When you’re planning your next events, think local.
Here are some tips:
- Hire local musicians for background music when guests enter or for reception entertainment.
- Work with local caterers, farmers or food producers for meal planning.
- Source local suppliers for event gifting.
COVID fatigue and isolation are challenging many of us. When we attend events again, they need to be delivered safely and in a meaningful way, and your guests will want to be welcomed and entertained. However, we won’t have the usual months or weeks of planning to bring our ideas to life.
If you need some extra hands, give Moonraker PR a call, we’d love to help. We already have a few ideas for you too.
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