Insight: Issue 36 (17th March)
Okay Scots event profs, we have some tentative dates for the diary.
In Nicola Sturgeon’s timetable for easing coronavirus restrictions, the word ‘events’ comes up exactly 6 times (yes, we counted) and this is the low-down:
- 26 April—weddings & receptions can take place with up to 50 people (no booze though).
- 17 May—small-scale outdoor & indoor events can resume (subject to capacity constraints).
- Early June—attendance at events can increase (still, subject to capacity constraints).
- From end of June—attendance at events can increase again (you guessed it, subject to capacity constraints).
It’s not much info yet, but progress is progress!
With BoJo recently unveiling plans to end English restrictions by 21 June, things really are looking up for Event Profs on our merry old island.
In other news: the UK government will pilot events at stadiums and music venues throughout England in the spring; the HBAA is calling on the government to lift the ban on venue site inspections; a German hotel is leading the way with a mobile rapid COVID testing station; British Airways has begun trialling vaccine certification for travel; we’ve got *extensive* safety measures for hybrid/live events; and SXSW 2021 is experimenting with extended reality (and also cheese…you’ll see).
UK govt plans spring ‘test events’ in England
The UK government has announced plans to trial live events at football stadiums and live music venues throughout England in the spring. About a dozen pilot events, including the FA Cup Final at Wembley Stadium and the World Snooker Championship, will take place ahead of the planned relaxation of COVID restrictions in June.
Similar to test events we’ve seen in other countries, attendees will not necessarily have to maintain social distancing—though all participants will be required to test negative for coronavirus before the event, and undergo a second test afterwards as well. The data from these pilot studies will then be used to determine how both small- and large-scale events can go ahead safely in the coming months.
HBAA calls on govt to lift ban on site inspections
Meanwhile, the HBAA—the association for the events and meetings industry—is calling for the UK government to urgently lift the ban on venue inspections, as it’s blocking the return of a *£70 billion industry*. As it stands, most clients are (understandably) unwilling to sign an event contract without a site inspection, but these won’t be permitted under government guidelines until 17 May at the earliest. Des McLaughlin, HBAA Strategy Director, pointed out a fundamental flaw with this timeline:
“There is a real disparity in the guidelines between industries which the government must address immediately. Estate agents have been permitted to conduct house viewings throughout this last lockdown. So why is there still a ban on organised and controlled visits to venues that are operating professionally under COVID-19 protocols?”
Good point Des, well made.
How to safely return to in-person/hybrid events
When event profs are eventually allowed to carry out these crucial site inspections, there are plenty of other safety measures we’ll be putting in place as well. The Bizzabo Blog has covered all the bases for us:
- Finding the right venue—taking into account space, maximum capacities, insurance, and that all-important ‘force majeure’ contract clause.
- The actual live event safety measures—things like pre-event testing, on-site health checks, sanitising stations, how to handle food and drink, and so on.
- How to communicate these safety measures—AKA, all the signage your budget can buy! And a pre-event safety guide wouldn’t go amiss, either.
It’s quite a long article (frankly, you could fill a novel with COVID safety procedures)—so put the kettle on, and dive in here when you’re ready.
German hotel sets up mobile testing station
To see how on-site testing works, take a look at Kempinski Hotel Frankfurt; they’ve set up a mobile COVID testing station, meaning anyone who hosts an event at the venue can book rapid antigen tests for their guests.
Up to 4 people can be tested at the same time in 5-minute intervals, which are organised using designated time slots. Results are available after about 15 minutes, and the whole thing costs just €39.90. Oh, and Hotel Director Karina Ansos will be offering free weekly testing for employees, too.
And that’s how it’s done, people!
British Airways trials vaccine certification
British Airways is joining other airlines in moving ahead with vaccine certification for travel. A trial of the new process is now taking place for passengers travelling from London to India, who are being asked to upload negative COVID test results and other travel documentation directly into their booking on ba.com. The airline will then certify these docs within 6 hours to ensure passengers meet the entry requirements.
British Airways is planning to extend this trial to more destinations over the coming weeks, and is also working towards adding this functionality to the BA app. In the meantime, the wider travel industry is eagerly awaiting 12 April, when the Global Travel Taskforce will provide a report to the PM with recommendations for how travel can resume. So, watch this space.
SXSW 2021 explores extended reality
When we can’t party in person, XR might just be the next best thing—and South by Southwest are taking full advantage. The US festival, which is taking place virtually in the States right now, have recreated downtown Austin using XR technology (also known as ‘extended reality’, which is essentially a mix of virtual reality, augmented reality, and mixed reality). Pretty cool, huh?
If that doesn’t hook you, this might…as part of the festival, Wisconsin Cheese is offering a virtual cheese-tasting to exactly 2,021 attendees, sending them all a personalised cheese delivery before the event. Oh, and Ron Swanson is on the guest list, apparently?
Definitely the weirdest thing we’ve seen all day.