In-person events are back. Finally! The only problem is that there are quite a bit more safety regulations these days. Not only that, these guidelines can change from state to state and city to city — almost on a daily basis. Oh, and if that’s not enough to think about, future in-person attendees will be expecting a fun and exciting experience that makes them remember how amazing fun in-person events are. No pressure, right? It’s OK, we feel it, too. To help get everyone on the right track, here’s what you need to know about hosting an in-person event right now, this minute — because you can!
Location location location.
The most important step in hosting an in-person event right now is choosing a location where you will be able to meet your capacity and attendance goals. Quite simply, in some states and cities, you just can’t have a lot of people all in the same room yet. We’ve actually put together a handy reopening tracker to keep an eye on the reopenings in all 50 states and help you find the perfect spot for your event. The tracker can also guide you to other important safety information, such as mask requirements, social distancing policies, or more obscure policies like requiring all tickets and food to be sold ahead of time. ProTip — there are far less restrictions for people gathering outdoors, and fewer restrictions will make everything feel a lot more normal!
Work with a safety team.
If you already feel like there’s way too much safety info to keep track of on your own, don’t worry — help has arrived. SafeExpo, a group of event safety consultants, can tailor safety precautions at your event to exact local guidelines. SafeExpo can also provide practical safety measures such as temperature checks, social distancing ambassadors, and communication materials for attendees to learn about safety measures before the event. One of the most important things for organizers to do is keep attendees in the loop with any changing safety info and what to expect on the event day. No one wants any surprises right now, and consultants like SafeExpo can help make that happen.
Safety can be part of the event infrastructure.
At the in-person premiere of Pose (one of the first in-person events to happen on a large scale in almost a year), there were clear plastic barriers between the individual photographers on the step and repeat. We hadn’t seen this before, but it reminded us that simple, easy-to-put-up infrastructure changes are proven to create even more safety at in-person events. In addition to plastic barriers, organizers can space out tables and chairs, choose wide hallways for checking people in, keep exit doors open during sessions, add temporary HVAC improvements, or even put air purifiers on the floor (which people with allergies will thank you for anyways). Basically, organizers should treat the space itself that as a simple tool that’s always working in the background to keep people safe.
Incorporating hybrid sessions will expand your reach
In 2020, Conde Nast hosted over 400 virtual, hybrid, and in-person events, and registered a total of 700,000 attendees. The publisher plans to do the same in 2021, with even more focus on hybrid and in-person. While capacity restrictions are still in place in many states, hybrid events provide a way to reach exponentially more attendees. Hybrid events can also offer far more interesting locations for filming (which will separate them from your run-of-the-mill Zoom event streamed from the home office. Also, if you’re used to creating events with national or international reach, hybrid may be the only solution to connect to a global audience while we wait for everything to opening up.
Your event can help give back to the community
The Richmond Virginia Fashion Show, one of the first in-person events in Virginia, donated the proceeds of their Arts District Dinner Fashion Show ticket sales to Feed More, a food bank that services central Virginia. We think that creating a donation-based segment of your event is a great way to give back and remind people of the power of events. It’s been a difficult year for many people, in just about every line of work and community. Consider tying charity to dinners, ticket sales, special sessions, or any perks that you’re offering. Also, try to work with a charity that is near and dear to your event, or in the city and state that you are hosting. It’s always been a good time to give back, but right now might be more important than ever.
At this year’s Tribeca film festival, which is going in-person and hybrid for the first time in a year, many of the selections share common themes of hope and resilience. According to Loren Hammonds, Vice President of Immersive programming for the festival, moviegoers are “ready to get out and connect to people and connect to themes that will maybe lift your spirits a bit.” We have to agree with this. After so much of everyday life has changed in the last year, people are really just looking for easy ways to get together and do things that will make them feel happy. Organizers may have an urge to go back to business as usual with in-person events and try to pick up where they left off, but things are different these days. Now is the time to dig deep for themes that are inspiring, fun, and get people genuinely excited to connect in person again.
Do a practice run
Yes, we’re talking about practice. There is a bit more involved in organizing an in-person event than there used to be. Before event day, check and make sure all your safety check-ins or added features are working. If you are using self check-in systems, make sure that everything is placed in a way that makes sense with any additional social distancing and health check points you’ve set up. The primary goal is to keep people safe, but it’s also important to create an enjoyable experience. It should be easy to get in and out of the event, even with the extra safety steps. Also, it’s possible that attendees will be anxious about attending in-person events again, the more you can make things run smoothly, the more everyone will feel at home.
In-person events can happen!
It may take a little extra planning, but in-person events are definitely within reach. Just make sure to check with local regulations before getting too far down the road, and focus on creating an experience that attendees will really enjoy. People are looking for fun stuff to do and safe ways to get together. The event industry can take them there!
If you are looking for a great low-touch check-in and badge printing solution, Expo is here to help. Learn more.