As we finally (!) begin to re-engage with clients and partners on in-person experiences, the priority on everyone’s list is of course COVID-safety. Navigating the road ahead presents quite a bit to consider, so we wanted to share five considerations that are currently helping to guide our planning and strategy.
- Creating a Plan vs. Managing a Plan: There are two key elements to ensuring a COVID-safe event. The first is creating a safe and thorough event plan, and the second is implementing that plan. Great execution of a half-baked or careless plan isn’t going to cut it, and neither is shoddy execution of a comprehensive plan. In collaboration with your venue, your agency (i.e. Sequence!), and a third-party COVID Compliance Team, make sure everyone is asking the right questions and putting the right experts in place. In order to find success you need to ensure your plan is both well-designed and well-executed.
- Assessing the Complexity of your Event and Venue: While rules and restrictions are constantly evolving, the guidelines for traditional events continue to be relatively clear. From capacities to food service to sanitation, creating a safe plan for some events should be relatively straightforward. On the other hand, COVID planning around nontraditional events may be more complex or gray. The type of venue you’re engaging should be factored into the equation too. Are you hosting your event at a full-service events facility that’s going to be prioritizing safety and adhering to guidelines? Are you at a raw or independent venue where you’re on your own to plan and bring in the vendors you need? Is your event utilizing an outdoor venue and/or does it have a public component? There’s a lot to consider, but all of these details should help guide your approach for a safe event.
- Accounting for the Unknown: Between the uncharted territory and the ever-changing restrictions, there’s still a significant amount that’s unknown for upcoming events. Last week we were sourcing a hotel for a client's Company Kick-Off and getting a definitive response on availability was challenging because of the evolving capacity restrictions. Some hotels could tell us that they had space for our group assuming restrictions were lifted, but couldn’t commit otherwise. Capacity limits are just one of the unknowns, with others being temperature checks, vaccine/PCR test checks, seating configurations, food service options, etc. The best way to counter the unknowns? Contingency Planning with an experienced agency!
- Contingency Planning: For the near future, every event with an in-person component is going to need thorough contingency planning. Plans to account for reduced capacities, plans to account for a change in event format, or even planning for the possibility of a canceled event (the in-person component, at least). Proper planning starts in the contract stage with venues and extends through milestone planning, leading all the way through event day. Designing a hybrid event from the start and having the virtual tie-in may also set you up with more natural contingency alternatives. Experiences are going to take more time and effort to plan, but that’s the cost of doing business in this new era of events.
- Budgeting for COVID Safety: Just like the best practice of a contingency line-item in your budget, it’s a good idea to have a placeholder for COVID safety too. This would be put towards a COVID Compliance Team for planning or on-site implementation, on-site testing or technology, or simply more event staff. Whatever the scenario, you’ll likely have some additional needs on the COVID-safety front, so best to earmark funds ahead of time.
As we embark on a new frontier and get back to in-person events, COVID-safety will undoubtedly be an ongoing priority for all stakeholders. What that safety looks like though, between a redefined industry and rapidly changing guidelines, will continue to evolve. We’ll continue to revisit our considerations and best practices, and would also love to hear from you about other considerations that are helping to drive your planning! What’s on your list?