Tips for Getting Back to Face-to-Face Meetings and Events
By Gequinn Mattox
Who would have thought that the instruction and guidance about washing our hands, covering our mouth when we sneeze or cough, or better yet, sharing a drink from the same cup that we received from our parents as young children would be the guiding force to save our lives as adults? It has become apparent that this pandemic has caused us to go back in time to propel ourselves into the future.
We also have been given unexpected time to reflect on and get back to what matters most, including the people in our lives and the paths we have etched out for ourselves. The who, what and how that we have taken for granted will be the very things to revive us and give us a renewed purpose as we move into the future. We must tap into the “why” of why people gather and figure out what we can do to help. Here are several tips for getting back to face-to-face meetings and events.
Where Do We Go From Here: Moving Forward with Purpose
This is just one of the burning questions on everyone’s minds. The follow-up questions are how do we proceed and how do we do so safely? As we move forward in this new era of events, things are changing and moving quickly so we need to have a plan for how we will help our business and our clients succeed. It’s been said that virtual and hybrid events are here to stay, so tap into companies that are doing this well. No need to reinvent the wheel! Also, a huge budget and connection to a large corporation are not necessary for this to work for your group.
Have a visible plan for sanitation so guests will feel safe attending the event. Use clear signage on hand sanitation or hand washing stations and social distance markers. You should upgrade food service to pre-packaged meals or buffet-style served by masked staff behind Plexiglas, or opt to go with a plated meal. If you have pre-set table items, they will need some type of covering.
Some other items you may want to consider for ensuring safety are a health check-in form and proper ventilation. You can verify the ventilation with the venue, or you can do something as simple as opening a door and/or window. There are many other helpful tips and resources provided by the NIVA (National Independent Venue Association) in a reopening checklist for the live entertainment industry.
COVID Chronicles: Vaccinate, Mask & Social Distance Vs. the Alternative
Given the uncertainty going on right now, decide what works best for your group and come up with a policy. Be sure to review it with your attorney as well.
Getting back to face-to-face meetings and events means planners have to decide what safety will look like for their gatherings. Since the science behind the vaccine is still ongoing, some people are opting to keep the mask requirement in place, along with social distancing and now, proof of vaccination. There are many different things to consider when hosting your event and to help you address issues like indoor/outdoor, well ventilated/poorly ventilated but workable and vaccinated/non-vaccinated. Being based in Colorado, I’m excited about how our state is moving forward.
There are pros and cons of each of the above scenarios as mentioned during the “Reconvene” webinar recently presented by Eventbrite. A very valuable checklist was provided by NIVA & ESA (Event Safety Alliance). It is useful guide and includes links to other resources available.
Another resource that can provide assistance and tips in getting back to face-to-face meetings and events is a Pandemic Compliance Advisor (PCA), which is someone who completes education through Health Education Services. The Events Industry Council provides continuing education credits for planners taking the course, and I became a PCA in December 2020. This person will help you get a handle on everything you need to know and what you need to do regarding event safety. They attend the event and work with the venue to ensure that the safety requirements are met so you can stay focused on your event. This type of assistance will be needed for some time to come.
The End Game: The Finish is as Important as the Start
Everyone is always focused on starting with a bang or that “wow” introduction/moment. It’s equally important, if not more so, to emphasize what attendees will take away from the event. What experience do you want them to remember? How did the event make them feel? Did you achieve the purpose you set out to create? Whether in person or hybrid, find ways to make an impression they will remember for years to come.
We may not know for sure what the future will look or be like, but one thing we do know and is that it won’t go back to the way it was. Let’s use this once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to make a positive impact in our communities and be the source that brings everyone together again. Destination Colorado and meeting planners around our state and the country are thrilled to be getting back to face-to-face meetings and events!