Back In-Person: Tips For a Safe Event Post-COVID

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With COVID restrictions lifting in cities and towns around the globe, many businesses are starting to dip their toes back into the waters of in-person events (or a hybrid format). But as more organizations go back to IRL events, it’s still important to take COVID (and other public health risks) considerations seriously and think about how to bring people together safely.

If you’re thinking about your organization’s event strategy and considering in-person events, keep reading for our tips on how to do it safely – for your attendees’ peace of mind, and your own.

  • Rethink your venue. Sadly, the days of only worrying about fitting everyone into a venue are behind us. Now, you’ll want to make sure a venue can accommodate social distancing guidelines so that attendees feel safe, and you’re covered if mandates return. You may also want to find venues that offer flexibility, virtual site tours, and have clear policies in place to ensure that comfort and safety needs can be met.

  • Check-in with your attendees. If you’re wondering how comfortable your attendees are with gathering in-person or how you can make them more comfortable, there’s an easy way to find out: ask! Surveys, questions on social media, and polls can all be great tools to figure out what your audience needs. Answers from potential attendees will help you determine if you need additional break-out rooms or if you should reassess how to deliver food and drinks. And, by establishing attendee comfort and safety needs earlier, you’ll give yourself more time to plan with your venue and technology partners to make sure you can deliver. You may also want to consider including a health check or screening tool at event registration to demonstrate that you take public health seriously.

  • Add virtual elements. Even if your event is in-person, you can still find ways to include virtual elements to uphold social distancing guidelines and cut down on physical. For example, you could have some content (like a keynote) delivered via webinar and then bring everyone together for a networking event to discuss together. Another example is to design a virtual exhibit hall where attendees can browse sponsor content from the safety of their computer screen. Adding online elements to your in-person event design can increase the accessibility and reach of your event, while also keeping in-person attendees feeling comfortable.

  • Incorporate contactless tools. To minimize face-to-face interactions between staff and attendees, you can include contactless methods for checking-in, questions, and badges. Technology such as QR codes can be tremendously helpful during the check-in process, and you can set it up so that attendees can even print their own badges. Plus, most folks are familiar with using this type of technology throughout the pandemic at restaurants and other events, so it’s become second nature to use. For commonly asked questions, you can incorporate a scrolling message on monitors or use another QR code to help attendees get what they need.

  • Keep the lines of communication open. With COVID variants and changing local and federal mandates, it’s critical that you have tools for keeping in contact with your attendees – both potential and those who have registered – before the event. You’ll also want to ensure you can quickly reach attendees during the event as real-time developments take place. A mobile app is a great way to do both. Push notifications can be used to manage overflow rooms for popular sessions and keep attendees informed, plus an event guide can deliver updated alerts related to crises or health concerns. An app can also help facilitate connections between attendees while allowing them to maintain a distance through contact information sharing. Plus, you can have any polls, surveys, or Q&As submitted through the app for attendees who may have missed any content or for a hybrid event. 

The new normal

Returning to in-person events – and somewhat normal life – is an exciting prospect for event organizers and attendees alike. But that doesn’t mean we can (or should) go back to pre-pandemic ways of gathering. With some intentional planning, you can find ways to incorporate elements that make your attendees feel safe and ensure you have a successful – and healthy – event.

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