June 01, 2021
By Madison Howard

While the world has changed, things will start returning to a new normal at some point. When they do, meeting and event planners will face new, but not insurmountable challenges. The value of in-person events is undeniable. While virtual events have taken over, they don’t offer the same benefits as face-to-face interaction. As in-person events resume, event professionals and venues need to be prepared. More than ever, the wellbeing of your attendees has to be your top priority. You’ll need to take special care that your team is following state and local regulations and guidelines to provide not only a great event experience but also a safe one. That means careful planning of every part of the onsite experience, from finding and managing the physical space of the venue to how attendees check-in, move through your event, consume content, and network with one another.

Find the Right Venue for Your In-person Events

Forget what you knew about space requirements. With the need for social distancing, what we know about venue capacity is changing to comply with guidelines. As you search for the perfect space to host your event, look for a space that can accommodate a much larger group. That will give you a buffer as guidelines emerge.  Find out how to evolve your sourcing strategy.

With a venue sourcing tool, you can:

  • View destinations and venues at your fingertips
  • Narrow down your choices in seconds
  • Send your eRFPs in a flash
  • Evaluate your eRFP responses more efficiently
  • Go on virtual site visits with real-time collaboration
  • Access a centralized hub for all your venue data

Collect Essential Attendee Information

Information is powerful. Use event registration as a tool to screen attendees before check-in. Whether or not you need to use the information, it will be valuable if a crisis emerges. By asking questions ahead of the event, you’ll have the right information when you need it so that you can make quick decisions and mitigate risk.

Ask registration questions that allow you to:

  • Identify attendee travel locations
  • Keep a record of location data for contact tracing
  • Utilize attendee tracking with RFID badges to manage sensitive areas for staff, VIPs, or high-risk attendees

Design Room Layouts that Embrace Social Distancing

Use event diagramming tools to create room layouts that comply with social distancing guidelines. Create seating arrangements that put more space between attendees. Rather than building room layouts with traditional tightly packed rows, stagger seats. With the right tools, you can easily design your event to accommodate social distancing and safety guidelines to ensure you have the right attendee capacities for each space. Diagramming tools also allow you to map out where you’ll place hand sanitizing stations, mask stations, wall-mounted cleanliness stations, and more throughout public areas.

Offer Touchless Event Check-In & Badge Printing

Avoid contact between attendees and staff during check-in. With the use of a QR code or digital wallet information received before the event, attendees can check-in and print their badge without touching any screens. This way, you can minimize contact and keep attendees and staff healthy.

Manage Room and Session Capacity

Controlling session attendance is one of the primary methods you can use to manage safe distancing for attendees to comply with guidelines. Set strict session capacities to ensure that only allow the safest number of attendees will be allowed to register for each session.

Then, have planners check attendance to poplar session early, so they can make session adjustments if they need to. Use self-check-in kiosks to facilitate contactless check-in for attendees. Check how many attendees are registered for each session and create the layout for the room based on occupancy numbers, taking into account social distancing guidelines.  During the event, use scanners when checking in attendees to manage capacity controls. Planners can also use event management tools to monitor attendance closely and use overflow session rooms for near or at capacity sessions. 

Quickly and Easily Communicate with Attendees

A mobile event app is an excellent tool for communicating with attendees quickly and efficiently. Attendees can use an event mobile app to receive all relevant information, communication, notifications, and content for the entire event. Push notifications can be used to manage overflow rooms for popular sessions and keep attendees informed, and a dynamic event guide delivers updated alerts related to crises or health concerns. When it comes to networking, a mobile event app facilitates connections between attendees while allowing them to maintain a distance through contact information sharing. Attendees are also able to express interest in exhibitors and sponsors before arriving at the event and set up meetings.

Safely Facilitate Onsite Meetings Between Attendees

Appointments are a staple at any event. To manage capacity and the timing of attendee interactions, consider using pre-scheduled appointments. Allow attendees or planners to schedule meetings before or during the event to maximize face-to-face interactions. Attendees don’t have to be onsite, either. Virtual attendees can also book appointments. By using a virtual diagramming tool, planners can adjust meeting room layouts to comply with social distancing guidelines.

Enable Touchless Contact Sharing

Give attendees and sponsors the tools to network safely. With the right lead capture tools, attendees or sponsors can collect contact information with a single scan or wave of an RFID encode badge. This will allow attendees to keep their distance. Sponsors and trade show booth participants love to pass out content to attendees, but rather than give physical one-sheets, send and receive event content and literature to decrease contact and save paper. 

Stay Informed and Ready to Adapt

As guidelines and regulations change, stay well-informed. It’s hard to say what the future. These best practices are a start but will change over time. The best thing meeting and event planners can do is educate themselves and be flexible. Embrace adaptability and rely on event technology to make your meetings and events better than ever.

Watch the webinar to learn more about Best Practices for the Return of Safer In-Person Events. 

Madison Layman

Madison Howard

A graduate of the College of William and Mary, my passion for writing began before I could read, with a nightly verbal diary dictation transcribed by my obliging parents.

When I'm not writing, you can find me binge-watching TV shows, baking elaborate desserts, and memorising pop culture facts.

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