Post-Pandemic Meetings: 6 Must-Haves for Your In-Person Events
After stressful lockdowns, failed business plans, and endless video conferencing, it seems like the world of business is going back to normal. In-person events are finally taking place. But let’s face it: after COVID-19, things will never be the same again. Although social distancing is no longer a requirement imposed by authorities, we still don’t want the virus being spread among the attendees. In this post-pandemic world, we rely on each other’s responsibility.
In-person event hosts have to set up an etiquette that’s not overly restrictive, but protective enough. The events should be as touchless as possible, so more innovative technology is required to support them.
How exactly do you handle in-person events in a post-pandemic setting? We’ll list the essential things to keep in mind!
6 Must-Haves for Post-Pandemic In-Person Events
- An Appropriate Venue
Conferences, meetings, live tradeshows, and all other in-person events are taking place in the same venues that were available before. But in a post-pandemic setting, the venue has to be appropriate for implementing safety and health protocols.
When choosing a venue for your event, make sure it’s big enough to enable social distancing for the entire audience you’ve planned. The setting also needs a contingency plan, which would address COVID-related situations that might occur during the event.
Venues and hotels have worked hard to make their facilities suitable for guests in these changed circumstances. However, each event needs a unique risk assessment, which will identify the requirements for the particular setting. If, for example, you’re planning a hybrid event, the venue needs to meet its tech standards.
Flexible contracting is another important aspect to consider. If some of the event’s key figures cancel their attendance, you might need to postpone the entire event. Many venues offer flexible contract terms for cancellation, postponing, or audience reduction for planned events.
- A Hybrid Approach
A physical event is absolutely possible at this point. We’re no longer under a lockdown. However, many people who planned to attend might be prevented. COVID-related scenarios are unpredictable. Some people want to attend, but don’t feel comfortable traveling and navigating through a crowd just yet.
If you’re wondering if you should organize a hybrid event, just think about the benefits hybrid audiences would get out of your amazing content.
In essence, hybrid events are about engaging both in-person and online audiences at the same time. How will you achieve that? Two-way video conferences are one option, but an audio-only approach for online attendees may be good enough.
Hybrid events are a real logistical challenge. But if you realize that many people would like to access your content online, they might be worth the effort.
- NFC Wristbands or Badges
These smart wristbands and badges contain the same type of chip as a contactless bank card and work in a way similar to Apple Pay. They are linked to the name badges of the attendees, so everyone can use them at physical touch points for exchanging information without scanning, swiping, or swapping.
NFC (near-field communication) devices are wearable, so the attendees won’t have to search through their bags. They can be used for payments, session tracking, lead retrieval, and more. They are highly secure, with in-built protection against personal information theft.
Why does a post-pandemic event need NFC wristbands? We’re aiming for as little contact as possible. Business cards, credit cards, and bills spread germs. With digital wallets and contact-sharing features, NFC wristbands replace them all.
- High-Level Technology
Properly implemented technology defines the success of a post-pandemic event. Video, sound, and images are necessary for engaging an audience spread across the entire venue. They are even more important for hybrid events.
You may consider offering a 3D virtual tool, which would help online attendees feel more connected to their peers. If you like keeping things simpler, the bare minimum includes high-quality video streaming and chat features.
Whatever your choices of tech tools are, you have to check their functionality before the event starts. Unexpected issues with images, sound, and video occur more often than we assume. Speakers, in particular, are known to cause headaches at the last minute. We’ve all witnessed sound that keeps cutting out, or no sound coming out at all. In such situations, it’s important to check the hardware, firmware, and software. You can check more instructions on how to troubleshoot speaker issues, so you’ll make sure the sound is functional.
- Health and Safety Protocols
Some of the event’s participants might be OK with handshakes and hugging. Others will avoid physical contact, but will still like to chat. Some will only feel safe if they keep their distance from everyone else. Whatever the needs of your attendees are, you have to meet them. One way to make everyone feel safe is to offer colored bracelets, which would indicate the level of the distance they like to maintain.
Requesting their vaccination status is another must. Hand sanitizers must be available on several points, especially in session rooms. Consider reducing table seating during sessions, and offering both outdoor and indoor meal options.
All safety measures and protocols must be communicated in advance, so everyone will come prepared.
- Breakout Areas
Post-pandemic circumstances impose the need for spaces that are separate from the usual session area. There, attendees will be able to avoid the crowd, rest, and mingle in smaller groups of people. Multiple breakout spaces will create smaller groups, which feel safer. Consider having separate spaces for those who decide to wear masks. Another section can be available to those who decide not to use them.
If possible, some of these breakout areas should be outdoors. Coronavirus is less likely to catch outdoors, so many of your attendees might prefer the fresh air.
Summing It Up
In-person events are taking place just like before. But whether we like it or not, COVID changed them. Many people are ready to attend, but they will demand hosts to make their events as safe as possible.
You have to consider an altered setting, which includes breakout areas and outdoor spaces. Safety protocols are inevitable, and they should be shared in advance.
It’s important for in-person event hosts to understand how behaviors have changed after the pandemic. People have different levels of comfort, so you need a flexible approach. It’s not easy to meet everyone’s needs, but the good news is that demanding events are fun to plan.