It’s hard to know what the long-term impact of the Covid-19 pandemic will really be, when it comes to socialising and in-person events.
But it feels certain that there will be long-lasting effects – whether that’s how we approach sanitization, or the fact we’ll never take the feeling of being jam-packed into a raucous concert crowd for granted ever again.
Of course, when you’re an in-person event planner, you need to stay abreast of the latest developments in order to make sure your attendees feel both comfortable and safe. In this article, we explore some of the ways you can achieve this as society transitions from lockdowns and uncertainty, to a new kind of normal and beyond.
Handling the sensitive subject of mask-wearing as guidelines change
Mask-wearing has been, and continues to be one of the most widely debated topics of the pandemic. Various nations have dropped (and in some cases picked back up) mask-wearing over recent months, leaving some scientists and many members of the general public scratching their heads. There are plenty of people on the other side of the debate too, who wholeheartedly believe it’s time to move away from restrictions like this in certain countries.
As an event planner trying to keep everyone happy, this difference in opinion over mask-wearing can feel like a no-win situation. How do you ensure your attendees feel safe when some of them believe mask-wearing still provides an important barrier against Covid transmission, while others would rather not wear them? The answer is, of course, never going to be clear-cut. But here are some tips to help you manage things in the most understanding, and least contentious way possible:
Stay informed: It’s vital to stay abreast of the latest thinking, debates and general consensus when it comes to mask-wearing. There might not be a unified opinion on the matter, but learning as much as you can will help you to make your own informed choices.
Be nothing but polite: Some venues in places where mask-wearing is no longer compulsory have decided to ask people to wear them anyway. If you decide to go down this route, be sure to keep all communication and requests around mask-wearing transparent and polite. For example, it can help to highlight that you understand mask-wearing is now a personal choice, but for the safety of your attendees and staff are asking people to wear them if they can.
Listen to public (and your attendees’) opinion: Try to gauge what the current public feeling is in your local area around mask-wearing. Monitoring social media comments can be one way to do this, especially from those who are likely to attend your event. Having said that, it’s still important to recognise that not everyone will feel the same way, so try to avoid making assumptions about your attendees’ opinions around mask-wearing.
Understanding people’s varying anxiety levels around crowds
As we move back to in-person events, there are bound to be those who still feel apprehensive about being in large crowds. To mitigate this, it can help to:
Be transparent about your event’s capacity and the feel of the venue: If you’re hosting a gig or a concert, it’s likely your attendees are expecting that big-crowd vibe. But even so, it can help to provide a few warnings in the communication running up to your event just to make sure people are aware that you’re, for example, running at full capacity again, or expecting larger crowds than usual.
If you’re running something like a conference or workshop, it’s a good idea to let people know how many people will be attending, and whether people are likely to find themselves in more cramped spaces at any time.
Opt for venues with outdoor space if you can: You might not normally consider an outdoor venue or at least one with some outdoor space – but now could be a good time to do so. Just knowing that there’s a place they can get some fresh air may help attendees feel more at ease. Even better, if you’re in a position to host a fully-outdoor event – go for it.
Consider going hybrid: Going hybrid is a great way to reduce your event’s in-person capacity and allow for smaller crowds. It’s also a fantastic way to embrace today’s technology and keep your event feeling current, if not totally future-focused!
We have a guide to running a hybrid event, which might be useful!
Communicate what safety measures you’re taking clearly: A bit of reassurance can go a long way when it comes to putting people’s minds at rest. If you’re taking additional safety measures to help mitigate the risk of larger crowds, make sure your attendees know about them.
Tip: Ticket Tailor’s online ticketing features can help you keep your Covid-secure here with things like time-slot entry and seamless capacity management.
Staying neutral but firm when it comes to the vaccine debate
Some events and venues around the globe are legally required to check attendees’ vaccine statuses, with only those who are fully vaccinated being allowed entry.
If you find yourself in this position, it’ll be important to keep a neutral but firm stance. You’ll want attendees to know that you’re taking the law and their safety seriously, which will require communicating clearly that entry without vaccination is non-negotiable. But it’s also important to consider that this is a deeply personal issue, and that the concept of ‘vaccine passports’ for events is largely uncharted territory for society as a whole.
To avoid adding fuel to the fire of an already volatile debate, refrain from using emotive or opinionated language in communications about vaccine statuses. Instead, aim to keep things as level and neutral as possible.
As an event planner, making sure everyone’s choices and opinions are respected can feel overwhelming in a time like this, where things are subject to change at any moment and emotions are running high. But if you strive to remain as transparent, informed and communicative as possible, you’ll know you’re doing your best to keep everyone at ease. For now, that’s the most valuable thing you can do.