Latest News: COVID-19 and the events industry (17 June)
It feels like a lifetime ago. . .
…that we started these COVID briefings. Frankly, we’re not entirely sure 2020 obeys the laws of time.
And though the first few months of news round-ups can summarised as ‘frantic, full-on damage control’, it feels like things are starting to shift. Lockdown is easing (slightly), safety measures are being put in place, and we are daring to hope that live events are just around the corner.
So, with that said, the theme of today’s briefing is ’bounce back’. We’re talking about all the ways events profs can be preparing to bring back live events with gusto. We’ve got: a free webinar on how to recover from a crisis; putting pressure on the UK government to release event guidelines; 5 steps for on-site health & safety (doctor-approved); the importance of taking psychological safety into account, too; a country-by-country guide to post-lockdown events; and an event skills summit to get your head back in the game.
Free webinar: how to recover from a crisis
With our chosen theme in mind, we can’t think of a more appropriate way to start than by linking to a free webinar (yes, free!) entitled ‘how to recover from a crisis’.
Back in April, C&IT hosted the first instalment of this series—‘how to manage a crisis’ (see, even the lingo’s changed!)—where 2,500 event profs tuned in to hear panellists discuss how to deal with the challenges of the pandemic. If you missed it, that’s all the more reason to tune in for part 2.
On Thursday 25 June, the second webinar will look at how event profs worldwide can prepare for what comes next. They’ve compiled a panel of speakers from every corner of the industry to give their different perspectives on what is, and what will be, the state of the events sector. Expect insights from agencies across the world, as well as vital viewpoints from venues, hotels, DMCs, and tech providers.
You can register to attend here. (Did we mention it’s free?)
Govt guidelines needed for restarting events
But, in order for our industry to recover, we urgently need government guidelines for restarting events. The Business Visits & Events Partnership (BVEP) has warned of “a catastrophic and irreversible” impact on the UK events industry without clear and practical guidelines on reopening the sector—by the end of June at the latest. They’re also calling on the government to relax the current 2-metre physical distancing rule.
BVEP’s statement comes at the same time as the results of research by the Meetings Industry Association (MIA), which revealed that nearly three-quarters of UK venues are forecasting a 60% reduction in revenue if social distancing restrictions remain at 2 metres. We’ve already looked into how the 2-metre rule would impact capacity at some of Scotland’s most popular venues—and we have to say, the outlook is pretty scary. Take a look at our socially-distanced venue layouts here.
5 steps towards robust on-site health & safety
Whatever the social distance, one thing’s for sure—having a robust on-site health and safety strategy will be the most important item on every event prof’s agenda (and FYI, a couple of extra hand sanitiser stations aren’t going to cut it).
Event Marketer spoke to Jonathan Spero M.D. who offered his expert advice on how to develop an effective health security plan in a post-lockdown world. These are his top tips:
- Implement a bullet-proof disinfection plan—disinfecting surfaces is a no-brainer, but you need to consider the method and frequency of disinfection as well.
- Carry out fever-screening—this will probably be the norm for a while; though people can be asymptotic, a fever is still the most common symptom of the virus.
- Develop a communications strategy—delegates are likely to feel nervous about attending post-lockdown events, so you’ll need a system for quickly responding to their questions and concerns.
- Ensure access to medical care—healthcare at events will obviously need to be readily available; whether that’s on-site medical care, or even a virtual solution.
- Create opportunities for self-care—the best defence against any virus is a healthy immune system, so you should incorporate wellness activities to help attendees stay healthy and reduce stress.
Don’t forget about psychological safety, either
A lot of the chat we’ve heard about post-lockdown events has been focused on practical and logistical issues: social distancing, hygiene procedures, reduced capacity in venues…and the list goes on. But what about the psychological challenges of restarting events? As noted by our good pal Dr. Spero, people will be wary about attending events—and while physical safety is paramount, psychological safety also needs some serious consideration.
Smart Meetings suggest that event planners need to focus on physiological safety to maximise event attendance. They argue that you can boost attendance, reach, and the impact of your event by looking at 4 attendee psychological profiles—ranging from the ‘Hypochondriac-lite’ group at one end of the spectrum, to the ‘Laissez Faire’ group at the other. Then you’ll need to communicate your event’s physical protection procedures to each group in order to sway them. (We’re gonna go ahead and guess the ‘Laissez Faire’ crowd won’t need much persuading). It’s a unique perspective, and an interesting read.
Country by country: a guide to reopening events
At the start of May, we shared a live lockdown map which showed varying lockdown and travel restrictions across the globe. Well, today’s live link holds slightly more positive news…
For many countries, there seems to be a general lack of clarity around which types of events will reopen and when. So Event Manager Blog has made it their mission to collate a country-by-country guide to reopening events. This includes info on the types of events that are permitted, the number of attendees allowed, and a timeline for reopening. They’ll be refreshing this resource as countries update their policies—so you can keep checking back for updates.
And something to get your head in the game. . .
And lastly, another date for the diary; the Skills for Events Summit is taking place online on Tuesday 30 June. As stated in the programme, events are huge economic drivers that may well be the key to bouncing back after COVID-19 (they’re talking our language). And while ‘mass gatherings’ are a no-go right now, ‘organised events’—such as conferences, exhibitions, and business events—can be managed more effectively and would be of enormous benefit to the economy.
Participants will hear about the national picture for the events industry going forward, plus ideas for a fresh approach to the future of event management skills and training. So if you’re an eager event prof who’s excited to get your head back in the game, have a nosy at the event summary and programme here.
We’re getting there!