By Petrina Goh, Director at CWT Meetings & Events Singapore (This article was published previously on the CWT blog section)
The world of events is recovering, and live events are making a return. One thing is certain. Post pandemic the health and safety of your attendees will be a top priority. But managing risk means more than just checking and meeting the relevant safety obligations and rules. As we return to live, it will also mean addressing growing concerns around climate change and sustainability. Therefore developing a consistent risk governance framework for your meetings and events program is advisable. It is so exciting and motivating to be reconnecting at events again, but with that we must ensure we keep attendees safe as much as is possible.
This 7 steps approach will help you bring back live meetings & events in a safe manner while keeping an eye on sustainability.
Defining your project’s scope, destination, and components requires more thorough assessments
now that new regulations apply and expectations from your attendees will vary. Map your corporate policies and guidelines, including the number of attendees allowed to meet, the willingness to travel and meet, travel limitations and escalation processes. Benchmark these guidelines against peers in similar locations and industries. On top of that a destination assessment including, restrictions around meetings and traveling, vaccination and new infection rates will be needed.
2. Source and contract
The sourcing and contracting of third-party suppliers needs additional steps after the pandemic. This includes checking cleanliness protocols including sanitation measures. Mitigate your share of risk and the impact of potential cancellations by setting up contract clauses that addresses those.
Working with the preferred supplier network from your M&E agency brings financial security, technical expertise and pre-vetted health and safety protocols.
In the planning phase critical decisions need to be made based on the current situation, including: defining traffic flows, physical distancing guidance, onsite setup and managing of event-specific PCR testing facilities, and food service precautions (buffet or platted portions). But also exploring ways to minimize the overall carbon impact of your event and how to give back to local communities.
Now is the time to create tailored security reports, crisis communications, and contingency plans to keep your teams informed of what to do in case of sudden disruptions. Leveraging the right technologies and partnership for additional support – such as attendee tracking – will ensure a smooth process.
Regardless of the size of your event, the communication of your event will be more important than ever. Be creative before jumping into more “serious” topics. This is likely to be your attendees’ first event in over a year, and it’s time to get them excited, inspired and engaged. Your meetings and events agency can support you with teasers from behind-the-scenes videos to full communications campaigns.
But do not forget safety. Be clear on what attendees can expect around transportation, housing, screenings before and during the event, local regulations, and precautions. Give concise instructions to onsite staff and remind them of protocols, key points of contact and escalation processes.
The onsite execution at the venue will vary significantly based on the type of venue, the number of attendees expected, and of course, local regulations. Markers and signage are important to manage attendee flow and support guidelines. Health check stations with temperature checks. Disinfection points can reinforce safety precautions.
Low-touch check-ins will minimize the need for physical contact – with mailed in contactless bracelets or smart badges that can also be used to check-in at stands, order food or exchange contact information.
While we’re all eager to return to live, we shouldn’t dismiss the technological progress made in the past year and the opportunities contained within. Planners and attendees are more tech-savvy, and new technologies enhance the attendee experience and tracking opportunities.
Digitalizing core elements of your event gives you the ability to reach a wider audience and ease some of the current burdens of international travels whether it’s through a fully dedicated virtual venue in parallel to your live show or a simple stream. As a result, you’ll also have fewer attendees to manage onsite and can offer a more inclusive format.
Increase your return on event through digital-ready content that can be repurposed in the long term, offered on-demand, or directly included in your marketing or brand efforts.
7. Learn and improve
In this post-COVID world regulations and expectations will continuously evolve. It is vital to incorporate the learnings from each event into your long-term strategy and improve and refine your governance framework continuously. Make sure to share your successes with your stakeholders after your event, communicating key statistics, videos and images, and continue to excite attendees as you return to live.
Adopt sustainable event management practices to leave a positive impact on the environment, local communities, and your brand long after your event.