Preparing a safe event venue is a top priority now we go back to physical events. And if we don’t want new outbreaks or unfortunate incidents, this new responsibility should be first on your planning list. As a matter of fact, GES surveyed 1,330 attendees to understand their willingness to return to physical events.
Surprisingly, 88 percent of respondents were open to attending shows in person. However, as was expected, the majority - 65 percent - demanded some form of mitigation in order to attend. In other words, your guests want you to take care of their well-being and put new rules into place to show your commitment to keeping them safe.
And although we’re still on standby in terms of when we can host physical events again, you’ll want to get prepared and think about the measurements you’ll take to prepare your venue for the new normal. To help you figure it out, we’ve come up with a series of requirements and protocols for events and gatherings. We’ve analyzed different recommendations carefully, and we thought that anyone could take advantage of these guiding principles and use them when the time comes to resume event planning activities.
Run outdoor events when possible
Respondents find outdoors gatherings are safer than indoor ones. So, when you get ready to start planning in-person events again, think about having them outside. Obviously, this will greatly depend on the weather. If having an entire event outside isn’t possible, think about planning certain activities outside of the venue, such as networking sessions or a fun social experience like visiting important locations.
Prepare bigger rooms for a smaller number of people
This one goes without saying, and although you may feel compelled to sell more tickets, you should always remember that you can’t have a full venue (at least, not for the moment). On the contrary, you need to limit the attendance and make sure there’s enough space in between each attendee.
Ensure a safe distance between the attendees by rethinking the seating layout
And since we’ve talked about creating safe space between your guests, you’ll want to redesign the entire seating layout using the six-foot or two-meter rule. If your venue has theatre-style seating, make a clear distinction between the seats that can be occupied and those that can be touched. For example, you can put a piece of paper on the back of the seats that can’t be used.
Place hand sanitizers at the entrance of each room
If you have a bigger event and your guests need to change rooms to attend different sessions, place hand sanitizers at the entrance of each room and ensure people use it. Send your guests a pre-event email with the rules they need to follow and make sure to mention they must use hand sanitizer every time they enter a room. In addition, place signs around the venue letting people know they can’t enter a room without applying hand sanitizer first.
Require the use of masks among staff and encourage your attendees to bring their own mask
This recommendation depends on where you’re located. The mask-wearing rules vary greatly from country to country. But if it’s (or will be) required in your country, be sure to provide your staff with the necessary equipment. Also, inform your attendees about the need to wear a mask at your event. In case you aren’t able to supply masks for your guests, don’t forget to send them an email or a push-up notification specifying that they need to bring a mask to the event.
Post signs in highly visible places that promote everyday protective measures
Setting new rules in place is just half of the equation—you’ll also need to make sure that people are respecting them. That’s why it’s a good idea to post signs throughout the venue as polite reminders of the protective measurements everyone should follow.
Ensure the frequent cleaning and disinfection of surfaces
This one goes without saying, but you’ll have to double down your resources on venue cleaning. Make sure that you’ll have enough personnel to clean and disinfect the rooms and the surfaces after each session.
Verify all ventilation systems are working properly
According to a report published by the European Centre for Disease Prevention and Control, “Poor ventilation in confined indoor spaces is associated with increased transmission of respiratory infections. There have been numerous COVID-19 transmission events associated with closed spaces, including some from pre-symptomatic cases.”
The same report notes that “building administrators should maintain heating, ventilation, and air-conditioning systems according to the manufacturer’s current instructions, particularly in relation to the cleaning and changing of filters,” and “Direct air flow should be diverted away from groups of individuals to avoid pathogen dispersion from infected subjects and transmission.”
Also, before running an event, explore different options with the assistance of the venue’s technical or maintenance team to avoid the use of air recirculation.
Serve grab-and-go options for meals
For the time being, you may want to put all the creative catering ideas you have on hold and go with the simplest, safest strategy. You don’t want people standing close together waiting for their turn in line or mingling while enjoying a standing buffet. The best thing you can do is to serve grab-and-go options and set up tables that have a reasonable distance between them.
There’s no shortage of event or venue safety recommendations, and this list is far from being a complete one. However, when planning an event, ask yourself if you can run it outdoors to make it safer for your attendees. Also, be prepared to rent a big venue for a reduced number of attendees and rethink the seating layout to ensure the six-foot or two-meter distance rule.
If you’re running multiple events in different rooms, always place hand sanitizers at each entrance and ensure people use them. Depending on your location and regulation, make sure both your staff and attendees wear their mask at all times. To increase compliance, place signs all throughout the venue that outline the safety rules. Also, double down on your resources on the frequent cleaning of the venue and proper ventilation. Finally, skip the fancy catering for now and stick to grab-and-go options for your attendees.