Meetings are back! Las Vegas is scheduled to host its first large-scale meeting and trade show in June 2021. But, as many planners already know, events in 2021 will look very different than they did two years ago. So how do you plan an event for the “new normal”? What key considerations should you keep in mind when starting the process? We asked the team here at World Meetings & Events to provide some insider tips to help ensure a successful and healthy event.
Virtual, hybrid or face-to-face meetings. Which one do I choose?
It is a very difficult decision and you have to take it seriously. For many of our clients, we have found that using a simple survey during the planning phase has been helpful. Right now, your attendees will likely want a hybrid model, but be sure to ask. They may surprise you and everyone wants to come out and come again in person.
There is no one-size-fits-all solution to encouraging attendees to attend an event in person. Everyone has their own comfort level, so communication is key. Having security protocols in place is paramount and communicating your protocol and procedures to attendees and must be completely transparent. Using a mobile app is a great tool to inform attendees about your security protocols, policies, hotel information, and adding an FAQ page can provide even more information to help your attendees feel safe. You should also have an action plan for dealing with an assistant or staff member who is out of compliance and poses a risk.
Safety (keep your distance)
Addressing the pandemic could help reduce anxiety. Do everything you can without contact. Develop a contactless registration procedure. Are masks mandatory? Are vaccinations required to attend? Do you have temperature controls? Make sure you clearly communicate all safety procedures and cleaning protocols with everyone. Educate your attendees on expectations and be sure to design your event with COVID protocols in mind. You might even consider having your attendees sign a code of conduct before the event.
Offer many disinfection stations. You might even consider wearing colored bracelets or laces to indicate each attendee’s personal social distancing preference (i.e. 6ft, elbow bump, hug). Communication is key, make sure you have lots of signs on the easels and not just stickers on the floor to control the flow.
Food & Drink
Gone are jugs of water, iced tea, and baskets of bread. In their place are covered drinks, individual appetizers and boxed lunches. Chefs are getting creative using individually wrapped snack boxes, bowls, bento boxes, and jars. This also helps reduce the lines and risks associated with “high point of contact” buffet tables. Looking for healthy alternatives for breaks? Instead of a cookie cart in the afternoon, help yourself to vitamin C juices or antioxidant-packed acai bowls.
Maybe you opt for a plate service and have servers bring meals directly to each attendee, it may be a bit more expensive, but this can help your attendees feel more secure during mealtime. Create a seating chart to map the space and pre-allocate the seats to ensure adequate space, and if the weather permits, consider using the outside space. Make sure you allow more time for meals and allow enough time to take a break to eat safely and not be in a rush. For large gatherings, consider dividing attendees into smaller groups and assign meal times or different places to eat.
A trend in beverage service is scratch-proof cocktails and meals that boost your immune system. Limiting alcohol encourages healthier habits. It can also reduce the risk of intoxicated attendees ignoring safety protocols, and as a bonus, they’ll be more refreshed in the morning. Non-alcoholic drinks are generally less expensive.
There are many ways to have a successful event while staying safe. It may take more work and preparation than in the past, but your attendees will be grateful for the thought you put into your event. If you need help navigating the ever-changing meeting and event space, please contact our team at World Meeting & Events, we are always here to help you create a successful event!