Now that much of North America has entered Phase 2 of the reopening process, the events industry and event brands are more eager than ever to finally host a postponed event or switch from a virtual event back into an in-person or hybrid event.
With any event hosted during the COVID-19 pandemic, organizers are required to follow coronavirus precautions to reduce the spread of the infectious disease.
However, COVID-19 precautions and mandates vary from region to region and can seemingly change on a daily basis, some people may be reluctant to attend an event simply because they are unsure of what precautions are in place and whether or not things like social distancing will take away from the overall experience.
Needless to say, event planning and attracting an audience during a global coronavirus outbreak is difficult!
As an event organizer, you can put people’s minds at ease by informing future attendees of the COVID-19 precautions you will follow and clearly lay out how these precautions will be implemented.
A successful in-person event will depend on how effectively you share this information. To help you reach that end, we have compiled this list of tips for communicating COVID-19 precautions to event attendees.
What Future Event Attendees Want to Know to be Prepared for COVID-19 Precautions
The novel coronavirus has forced all of us to plan ahead and think in advance about future events. Spontaneity and mass gatherings have been temporarily (we hope!) thrown out the window and event attendees need time to prepare themselves to even venture out of the house.
All of this means that there are lots of things that an event organizer needs to consider when planning an event.
Event attendees will want to know:
- How your event will minimize the potential spread of the virus
- What event-goers will have access to (i.e, will there be bottled water available or do they have to bring their own)
- Expected locale precautions (i.e., will travelers need to self-quarantine when traveling to your event’s county, state, province, or country)
- The form of contact tracing will be conducted at the event and how guests will be informed if there is an outbreak following the event
- Whether or not masks are mandatory for the gathering
- Social distancing measures that will be in place
- Protective supplies will be provided (i.e., alcohol-based hand sanitizer, PPE)
- Whether or not the event is GBAC Star Certified?
- The size of the event (i.e., is it a large event? What is the maximum amount of attendees and staff that will be present at the event venue?)
Your event attendees are expected to prepare for an event, and providing them with the necessary information and links to resources, like the current CDC guidance, will help them prepare for the excursion.
Properly Communicating with Your Future Attendees About Your Event’s COVID-19 Precautions
If you are hosting an event of any size, you must be fully prepared to accommodate all of the COVID-19 precautions and regulations that are in place in your area.
Many of the precautions in North America are following the recommendations of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevent (CDC) and the Canadian government, but regional rules might be enforced in a specific region or county.
Be sure to communicate the following:
- Mandatory regulations: Your event will have to abide by mandatory regulations established by the CDC. This information should be provided to future attendees. Clearly explain what these regulations are and what they entail for the attendee. It is a good idea to also communicate what is at stake for the event organizers if these regulations are not followed. For example, will the event get fined or potentially charged with a crime if they do not enforce these precautions? If the event is taking place in a region where masks are mandatory, you need to convey to attendees that there is no lee-way in this policy.
- Event-specific regulations: If your event has decided to follow an additional set of COVID-19 precautions, then you must share these with attendees, especially if you will be turning people away or removing them from the venue for not following these precautions. For example, if physical distancing is not required for people who are in a social bubble, will you allow that exemption or will you be enforcing physical distancing for each attendee regardless of a social bubble?
- Pre-planning: From masks to hand sanitizer, personal water bottles, and individual meals, future attendees need to know what they can bring, what they need to bring, and what might be provided at the event. If your event has disposable personal protective equipment (PPE), let your guests know in case they do not have their own.
Because COVID-19 precautions can vary, it is up to your event staff to inform future attendees about the regulations that your event is required to follow based on the region, county, state/province, and country.
Event staff should work with an event planner to set up these precautions. The event staff must be able to distinguish between precautions that your event is taking on their own and precautions that are mandatory for public events.
Tips for Communicating COVID-19 Precautions to Your Future Event Attendees
Because COVID-19 precautions can be complicated, we’ve laid out our top tips for communicating them to future event attendees and exhibitors:
Make sure future attendees know if quarantining is required
Mandatory quarantining after travel is a major COVID-19 precaution that requires the most planning on the part of attendees and vendors.
A mandatory self-quarantine requires individuals to stay in an isolated location (either a hotel room, house, or other accommodation) and arrange for someone to get groceries and supplies on their behalf. This can be hard for someone to set up if they have never been to that particular location before.
Your future event participant will need to know if, and for how long, they are required to quarantine when traveling to your region. Include this information on your event website, in your email invitations, and on your registration page.
Consider offering to support quarantine by providing discounted accommodations or on-call grocery shoppers and then let your guests know. This support could be a huge perk to attending your event.
Inform event attendees on required COVID-19 test
Some events have required participants to get a COVID-19 test a few days prior to arriving at the event.
While coordinating a COVID-19 test around traveling can be difficult, it can help attendees feel more comfortable and reduce the spread of the virus.
If you are going to require attendees to get a test, you need to make sure that they know. Clearly communicate the timeframe for taking the test and provide details about where and how they can be tested.
No matter how you communicate with event attendees, make sure you do so regularly and provide detailed information that is easy to read and easy to understand.
Regular communication will ensure that your guests have access to all of the information that they need to attend and stay safe.
Because some people will not read all of your communications, do as much as you can to share the pertinent information at the point of registration.
Send out a mandatory questionnaire
Organize a short, clear, easy to read questionnaire that your attendees are required to complete at the time of registration or a reasonable time before the event.
This questionnaire needs to be interactive so that the attendees are actively involved in the questionnaire and filling in the information.
For example, this questionnaire should be completed close to the event time and it will ask the attendees if they have recently traveled or been exposed to someone who has the coronavirus. Additionally, any guests who have indicated that they are experiencing COVID-19 symptoms should be told to stay home.
Identify the required communication avenues
The ways you communicate with your attendees will depend on how you first came in contact with them. Go back through your lead funnels to find the best channels for communication.
Upon registration, make sure that you establish with the attendees how you plan to directly communicate with them. This will be vital for contact tracing purposes anyway.
Additionally, all the guidelines that your event will be following should be clearly communicated on your event website and social media profiles.
Will email be the primary method of communication? Or are your guests supposed to regularly check social media to stay up to date with event announcements? Make sure they know where to access important information as soon as they register.
Try to accommodate event attendees that aren’t aware of COVID-19 precautions
With the exception of mandatory quarantine periods, chances are that your event will be able to carry out COVID-19 precautions even if event attendees are not aware of them beforehand.
Be prepared for unexpected scenarios. If you are not providing guests with food during the event, it is possible that some attendees may have missed this information. In this instance, make sure that you have a list of nearby stores and restaurants that can meet their needs.
If you are not providing water bottles at your event, consider giving out event branded reusable water bottles instead.
Remember to be understanding
We are all going through tough times, so it’s understandable that your attendees may come to your event with questions, confusion, and even frustration.
That’s okay and it’s to be expected. All that you need to do is welcome them to your event and let them feel like they don’t have to work hard when they are there.
Be understanding and remember to stay patient with frustrated attendees. Try to be as comforting and welcoming as possible and remember to smile, even from behind a face mask or face shield.
Planning an event during COVID-19 can be stressful. And attending the event can be equally as stressful. Remember that we are all dealing with this global pandemic together and that things do not need to be more complicated than they already are.
As event professionals, it is important to properly research what is required of your event in order to keep people safe and be sure that you communicate steps you are taking with your attendees.
Because the new normal for the event industry includes uncertainty and necessary flexibility, be sure to prepare virtual meetings, a virtual conference, or a hybrid event as a back-up plan in case your area starts to see a significant spike or increase in cases.
Work with your event attendees to manage expectations around COVID-19. Try to communicate early on, regularly, and through the right channels so that attendees are not blindsided by any new information on the day of the event.