For many event professionals, it’s been a long time since planning or hosting a live event. But instead of allowing COVID-19 to bring the world to a standstill, the events industry found a way to adjust. By embracing virtual events, organizers have been able to deliver content to eager audiences. Virtual social events are now common. And these events have done a decent job of keeping us connected. A virtual event, however, will never replace the joys of an on-site event and interacting with others.
As vaccines have become more readily available, the savvy event organizer is looking to the future. And one of the major emerging trends is hybrid events. Hybrid events have virtual components and in-person components. But how can you host an event with in-person attendees while keeping them safe from the pandemic risks that still exist? If you wish to host a successful hybrid event, you need to prioritize the health and safety of attendees. To help you navigate this tricky landscape, we’ve put together this list of hybrid event safety tips!
There is a lot to think about when planning an event of any sort. And planning an event during a global pandemic only adds more complications. Here’s where you need to start when thinking about hybrid event safety.
Securing the right venue is important for any event. But now, you need to think about how the venue can accommodate COVID-19 protocols. Consider the following when assessing venue suitability:
Is there enough space for hybrid event attendees to move around and respect social distancing? Look beyond the meeting or conference rooms, and look at the lobby, lounge, and hallway space.
It’s unlikely that you will be allowed to fill the venue to maximum capacity. But you should find out if the venue has a new capacity based on CDC recommendations. Use this number to assess the venue’s suitability. It can also inform your event planning and event marketing strategies.
Be sure to read your venue contract carefully. Look for any clauses related to COVID liability, postponements, and/or cancellations. If there is a force majeure provision, ask what COVID scenarios are covered. If COVID is not covered, ask if there is another provision that would provide the same coverage.
The Global Biorisk Advisory Council (GBAC) helps organizations overcome biohazard risks like COVID-19. The GBAC STAR is awarded to facilities that have instituted proper cleaning and disinfecting procedures. These measures will reduce the spread of contaminants like COVID.
Event registration and check-in are often the most crowded places at a live event. And this makes them one of the riskiest at your hybrid event. Take steps to streamline event check-in, reduce wait times, and limit the number of people gathered in one area.
Using an event registration platform or an event registration website can eliminate onsite check-in. Encourage attendees to register as early as possible. Send all badges and identification by mail. This will eliminate the need to queue or congregate upon arrival.
With online check-in, attendees can choose their arrival time. This prevents large cohorts of people from arriving at the same time. Consider having attendees identify any social/work bubbles. If hosting a conference with groups arriving from the same office, you can group them. This means that they will arrive at the same time, limiting their contact with other social bubbles.
If you must have onsite registration, try to use a large space. The more space you have, the more you can encourage and enforce social distancing. While you may have fewer attendees at your hybrid event, you will want to use twice the space for event check-ins.
One way to control movement in the event space is to create clear and defined traffic flows. You will want to create dedicated entrances and exits. Label the direction you want people to take once they have entered the event venue. Have venue or event staff on hand to help enforce and facilitate this flow.
It is important that the audience understands what is expected of them. They will need to know and understand how to behave while at the event venue. But they should also know about any health and safety checks put in place. If you require guests to produce a negative COVID-19 test, they will need to know in advance. You want to give them enough time to get one.
Moving check-in online and establishing directional traffic flow is great. But there are more unique and creative things you can do! Create event decor that will promote hybrid event safety. And many of these event decor elements can be implemented without impacting the attendee experience. Some design aspects to consider are :
When planning and marketing your hybrid event, be sure to highlight your safety efforts. For some people, this could be the difference-maker in their purchase decision. On your event website, detail the steps you have taken to secure the venue. Detail any rules you have established for attendees. Once registered, send guests a detailed guide or list of rules and expectations. If you have to change or update your rules, email these updates to registrants. Ordinarily, you would want to avoid sending too many emails to attendees. But, these are far from ordinary times and the clarification may actually be welcome. The more information you can provide to attendees, the more confident they will be to attend your event.
The pandemic landscape is shifting all the time. It is important that you are aware of the latest recommendations from the Centers for Disease Control (CDC). Check the CDC’s website regularly while in the planning process. Their guidelines can help you formulate your own rules and guidelines. Be sure to check the site more frequently as the date for your hybrid event draws nearer. You may be required to adjust your own plans. Always have other options, like shifting to a virtual event if gathering becomes impossible.
Keeping in-person attendees safe from COVID-19 should be your top priority. Following our advice and using a registration and event management platform can help. The platform can facilitate communication with attendees and reduce contact points with online check-in. Looking to host your next event? Book a Demo today and learn more about how our hybrid and virtual event platform can help you put together a truly incredible yet, safe event experience!