Top 5 considerations for meetings managers as in-person events return
With the welcome news of approved COVID-19 vaccines hitting the market, many people and organizations are ready to add face-to-face human connection back into their repertoire of engagement strategies.
As in-person meetings return to the forefront, meeting and event managers are finding an industry full of potential opportunities – but also a meetings industry that is more complex than ever before. If you’re looking for a way to navigate this complexity, read on for our top 5 considerations for meetings managers as in-person events return.
Refresh the meeting policy and communicate, communicate, communicate!
Your audience will have questions – and a lot of them. Will they need to be tested for COVID-19? Will they need to be vaccinated? Do they need to wear a mask? What is your organization doing to ensure sanitation and social distance protocols are in place?
We recommend starting with the executive sponsor for your meeting policy and fleshing out your organization’s stance. For some companies, the vaccine will be important. For others, testing may be a more applicable step.
You can also lean on your event management company to provide current guidelines and detailed insights into your business’s responsibilities and legal requirements.
In all situations, the key is to communicate to attendees frequently and concisely.
Consider creating a “travel bubble”
Meeting organizers that want to ensure the most secure environment for their attendees are creating “travel bubbles” by chartering aircraft and contracting full buyouts of hotels.
To reduce the possibility of the virus from infiltrating these travel bubbles and for attendees to gain access, each attendee must agree to follow procedures and a testing process. The benefits must be weighed against other risks, such as existing policies that limit the number of employees on a single airplane. Also, this option for exclusivity and tighter safety comes at a higher price point. For some organizations, that higher price is worth the increased safety and security.
Look to local governments and risk assessment tools for information on varying testing requirements by location
Officials in many destinations continue to create their own “travel bubbles” by requiring testing or quarantine when entering the locale. Not only do the requirements differ by location, but each location can change its requirements with little notice.
While this may seem daunting at first, meeting managers are getting help from local governments, airlines, hotels, and private companies that are all offering testing options to facilitate the process. Risk assessment tools will also help keep meeting managers up to date on current conditions.
With these resources available, meeting managers can focus on the attendee and develop contingency plans for unique situations where someone tests positive or doesn’t receive results in time prior to a flight.
Expand vendor relationships to include safety components
Keeping attendees safe is the primary concern for every meeting manager.
Fortunately, several options have emerged to help in this endeavor, from mobile sanitizing and testing crews to plexiglass and custom mask suppliers. Even existing vendors have expanded the items they provide to include social distancing signage and floor markers to direct foot traffic flow and maintain distance between people in lines. These new safety opportunities help add to attendee safety and, perhaps more importantly, build their trust that a meeting host has taken the right precautions.
Offer alternate solutions (including for incentive travel)
Despite the significant strides towards safe meeting options implemented over the last several months, some attendees may still be unable or unwilling to attend a live event. It is essential to continue to connect with those audience members. The key? Alternative solutions. For many meetings, content can be broadcast online or recorded for later viewing.
Incentive travel, however, can be much more challenging to duplicate. However, options are available that would allow an incentive trip recipient to create their own individual trip when they are more able to travel or opt into a local experience or merchandise award. In fact, these solutions may be here to stay for the long-haul since inability to attend an event has always been a challenge.
If the pandemic has gifted us with anything, it is an expanded mindset that allows us to connect with our audiences in various ways.
Want to know more about what considerations you need to make as in-person events return?
Get in touch with our team of event travel management experts.