Event trends designed to keep guests safe during the COVID-19 pandemic

by Jonathan Morse

Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, people are now thinking of health and safety more seriously, especially when it comes to public places with large crowds — including events.

In order to keep guests safe and aid in the prevention of spreading illness or disease, there are certain new measures event coordinators must take. Let’s take a look at some creative event trends designed to keep guests safe when they return to events post-lockdown.

Health and Safety

COVID-19 prevention and the safety of your guests should be your first priority at events right now. In addition to the standard practices of taking attendees’ temperatures and asking about symptoms, increased venue cleaning, and providing stations for hand sanitizing, there are a few extra steps you can take.

Create swag bags that have all of the items guests will need to ensure personal safety: hand sanitizer, masks, cleaning wipes, and sanitizing spray. And consider visual cues to call awareness to all of the measures you have in place, including signs, floor stickers, asking staff to change to different color gloves after service changes or periods of the day, and include time in the event schedule for cleaning and room turnover.

Awareness is important to provide a comfortable environment, so provide guests with all of the precautions you are taking in all of your event’s marketing and communications, your website, and written materials provided to attendees.

Event Schedule

Changes to your event’s schedule can help reduce capacities, enable social distancing, and minimize risk.

The first change you can make is to provide more registration time in advance of the event. Ask attendees to register in advance and assign them certain days and times pick up their materials so there are fewer people in line at your registration table at any given time.

Try staggering entry times to your event to prevent overcrowding. Or you may decide to change your program altogether. Instead of a daylong event of sessions, opt for an open house or booth-style event where attendees can enter at staggered times to learn from experts and network with peers.

Food and Beverage

Buffet service, long lines at the bar, and tables of appetizers are too much of a health risk in 2020. But the hospitality industry has come up with a lot of options for food and beverage service with safety in mind.

Staff service is a good alternative to the buffet for dine-in meals. You can also provide food to go — boxed meals, creative packaging using Mason jars or decorative boxes, and bento boxes of appetizers are contact-free ways to serve meals. Replace poured drinks with bottles or cans of beer, wine, and cocktails, or make batched cocktails in advance to speed up your bar service and avoid too many people gathering around the bar area.

Venue Setup

Most health guidelines recommend placing tables 6 feet apart and reducing the number of people seated at tables. There are some other trends that you can use to give your attendees enough space to feel safe and comfortable.

Decor, such as large plants, room dividers, designer velvet ropes, plexiglass, and oversize floral arrangements, can help to create barriers between small groups. Pillows with your logo and “This seat reserved for social distancing” placed on chairs and couches will provide appropriate space. If you have outdoor areas, encourage guests to gather there at social distanced tables, and serve food via food trucks.

Take the Time to Focus on Safety and Creativity

The pandemic has forced the hospitality industry to be more cautious and careful around safety, but it’s also allowed for creativity. Use the ideas listed to plan an event that your guests will enjoy while feeling comfortable at the same time.

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