At the risk of sounding dramatic: The world has vastly changed in the last three years. We now work differently, live differently, and interact with spaces differently. We’re not who we once were, pre-pandemic.
Naturally, this poses a challenge to the events industry. We’ve seen a significant shift to virtual events during the pandemic, but as we move into a post-pandemic world, the events landscape is set to evolve once again.
As we return to physical events, what are the key considerations to keep in mind? And how do you make sure your events are critic-ready? Read on to find out more.
1. Make sure your logistics are covered
One of the most important things to figure out, right off the bat, is all the logistics that have come into play with the pandemic. For example:
- Making sure you’re up to date and complying with government restrictions
- Ensuring that you’ve got thermal imaging cameras at the entrance points of your venue
- Setting up contact tracing
These are crucial – if you fail your attendees in any of these aspects, this will cast doubt on your professionalism, and leave a bad taste in your attendees’ mouths.
2. Keep hygiene standards high
In a post-pandemic world, it’s more important than ever to make sure that your event space is hygienic and properly sanitized. Here are some things that you can do:
- Figure out your masking protocol: are your attendees required to wear masks to attend the event? Keep extra masks on hand in case attendees accidentally get their masks dirty.
- Ensure that your event venue has proper cleaning and safety protocols. Don’t just assume this is the case – ask them how frequently they clean their venues, which spots get cleaned, and whether they sanitize in between cleanings as well.
- Go through the flow of the entire event, and ensure that every activity planned is executed safely. For example, if you’re organizing a panel, ensure that each speaker has their own microphones, instead of getting speakers to pass a single microphone back and forth. You can also use disposable covers for microphones for extra precaution.
- Keep sanitizers at event entry points and other key locations in the event. Encourage attendees to sanitize their hands regularly.
3. Plan smaller events
Consider planning smaller events to start off with, and keeping your attendee count low.
For organizers, smaller events are obviously more manageable. Considering that post-pandemic events are already more finicky and complex, it makes sense to go with a smaller group. Once you get the hang of organizing post-pandemic events, you might choose to scale up and start organizing large-scale events again.
Attendees might also feel more comfortable re-entering the world of events with smaller gatherings. Don’t forget – many of these folks have spent the past two years working from home, and having minimal in-person contact with their colleagues and peers. They might get overwhelmed attending a massive event with hundreds of participants, so keep your group sizes small to start off with.
4. Give attendees a reason to show up
Again, since most folks are used to working from home, you’ll have to give them a compelling reason for them to show up for your event.
If your event line-up simply consists of talks, talks, and more talks, there’s little incentive for your audience to attend in-person. They might simply want to stream the event from the comforts of their own home instead. So think of how you can make your event more immersive, such as including hands-on demonstrations, networking sessions, and more.
If you’re planning a multi-day event: consider organizing a hybrid event that takes place both online and offline, so that attendees can choose to attend some sessions virtually, and others in-person. This gives them the best of both worlds!
5. Consider your catering options
If you’re catering food, the most suitable format will differ based on where your event is located.
At some places, buffet lines may be becoming the norm again. That said, you’ll still want to take precautions such as having more lines (serving the same food) so that you don’t have too many people congregating at one space, and training your servers to observe proper hygiene protocol.
At places where folks still aren’t comfortable with buffet lines, you can cater individually packed bento boxes instead. You’ll have to collate your attendees’ dietary requirements for individual portions, so plan ahead to make sure everyone’s satisfied with their food.
6. Keep things moving
In a post-pandemic world, people are used to consuming things on-demand, which translates into shorter attention spans. To keep your attendees happy, make sure you’ve optimized your workflow to reduce waiting times, and keep things moving.
For example, get attendees to submit their proof of vaccination (if you’re asking for this) beforehand so you don’t need to check when they turn up at the venue. For registration, similarly, get attendees to pre-register and input all their details before they reach the venue, so as to reduce waiting time.
7. Contingency planning
Pre-pandemic, you could possibly get away without contingency planning – if you were organizing a straightforward, small-scale event with few dependencies.
But in a post-pandemic world, contingency planning is an absolute must. It doesn’t matter how small your event is – you’ll still have to make plans for scenarios such as:
- What if a speaker cancels because they test positive?
- What if a vendor cancels because they test positive?
- (If you have pre-event testing) What if someone tests positive on your premises?
- What if someone feels ill on your premises?
Planning events in a post-pandemic world
It’s not easy planning events in a post-pandemic world – there are so many more logistical issues to grapple with, plus you may need to cater to attendees who may be less used to physical, in-person events. With this in mind, it’s important to plan, but at the same time, remain adaptable and give yourself the flexibility to pivot last minute.
As Winston Churchill famously said – plans are of little importance, but planning is essential!