Latest News: COVID-19 and the events industry (20 May)
In today’s news. . .
We’ve got: a mental health survey for event profs, in time for Mental Health Awareness Week; a new committee supporting the safe return of Scotland’s world-class events programme; a look at how Italy is reopening their events industry; free advice for event companies planning their return to work; 15 ways event design is going to change, including networking after COVID-19; and an important question…are pool noodle hats the perfect social distancing solution? We vote yes.
A mental health check for the events industry
Stress Matters have seen first-hand the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on our industry. Since the end of March, they’ve been operating a volunteer-led confidential support line that’s dedicated to event profs. (If this is the first you’re hearing of it, the number to call is 07481 362111 and you can find out more about the service in one of our previous briefings.)
As we’re into our 9th week on lockdown (yikes) and it’s officially Mental Health Awareness Week, Stress Matters is looking to check in with event profs via a short mental health survey. Through research conducted in late 2019, they found that 45% of event profs believe their employers made more efforts to improve workplace wellbeing in the last 12 months; this round of research will check to see if this trend is continuing.
You can access the survey here, and it only takes 5 minutes to complete. You’ll have the option to submit your email address, so they can send you the results—but if you’d rather not give your info, that’s cool too.
Committee to support Scotland’s £1bn-a-year events programme
The Scotland Event Producers Independent Committee (known, appropriately, as ‘Epic’) has been established by a group of event experts to share knowledge and info during lockdown. The aim is to ensure a future for event businesses, and to guarantee that high-quality, iconic events will continue to thrive across the country. The committee will work with the Scottish Government and local councils to ensure events return safely and within a realistic timescale, whilst developing public confidence.
Epic founder Shane Grieve said: “By working together, we know we can survive this and return stronger than ever. However, it needs the collective experience and world-class expertise that exists in Scotland to get together to ensure a collaborative and effective response.” We second that! You can find out more about the committee here.
Italy prepares for events to resume
As we await our next lockdown review on 28 May, all eyes are on the countries that are already beginning to lift restrictions. Italy, for example, is now cautiously reopening after being one of the worst-affected countries in Europe. PM Giuseppe Conte announced that travel within Italy, and from abroad, will be allowed from 3 June—so Italy’s events industry is unveiling new safety measures to reassure planners and attendees.
Infographics produced by the Italian Exhibition Group as part of their #SafeBusiness project outline the steps they’ll take—from thermal scanning and mask distribution, to handleless doors and capacity limits. And they’ve got a couple of novel ideas too, like the use of transparent face masks to facilitate verbal communication for lip readers.
Whilst we contemplate what events will look like in a post-COVID UK, it’s crucial to learn from other countries that are a few weeks ahead.
Free advice for event profs returning to work
But it’s not just post-lockdown events we’re contemplating. More pressingly, many of us are wondering what our return to the workplace will look like—and employers are in the process of planning how to make this transition as smooth and as safe as possible for their staff. Not exactly an easy feat—so if you’re feeling anxious about it, we’ve got just the thing.
A.C.T. National, which creates health and safety strategies for events of all sizes across the UK—including the London Marathon and the Royal Windsor Horse Show—is offering free advice to event companies as they prepare to return to work. In the words of A.C.T.’s Director, Chris Woodford: “There are no catches, there are no fees or obligations. It is just a genuine and honest offer to try and help, and to keep us all sane!”. You can get in touch with Chris himself on firstname.lastname@example.org, or give him a call on 07535 636496.
There’s no such thing as a free lunch—but there is such a thing as free advice, thanks to Chris.
15 ways event design is going to change
As event profs—a group of people who have chosen a career based around planning—not being able to plan leaves us feeling a bit…unmoored. That said, you don’t sign up for this gig unless you’re adaptable, and resilient as hell. As C&IT points out, just as we would adjust our processes to suit a logistically tricky venue, we’ll modify and adapt to this situation too—because it’s what we do.
In their article 15 ways event design is going to change (alternate title: 15 ways event designers are going to have their work cut out for them), C&IT walk us through what to expect. Everything from higher demand for bigger venues; to the all-important sanitiser stations and quick cleans; to the strange possibility of seated networking…but we’ll make do. After 9 weeks of lockdown, we’re getting pretty good at staying in one place anyway.
Speaking of networking, we’re probably all going to be a bit rusty after all this time in isolation (we can’t be the only ones wondering if we’ve forgotten how to socialise, surely?). And while a lot of attention has been paid to the logistics of post-lockdown events—what about authentic networking? How will we facilitate meaningful face-to-face interactions whilst keeping everyone 6 feet apart?
C&IT has hit us up with another helpful speculative piece on networking after COVID-19, or ‘networking 2.0’ as they call it. It talks about reinventing the delegate journey, and how that will change the social experience. The crux of it? Post-lockdown, there’s going to be a higher value placed on bringing people together and meeting face-to-face—for the right reasons, and in the most productive way. Definitely worth a read.
Introducing: pool noodle hats
Last, but *definitely* not least, a cafe in Germany may have found the perfect solution to socialising whilst social distancing…and that solution is pool noodle hats (you know we can’t resist stuff like this).
Jacqueline Rothe, the cafe’s owner, came up with the idea as a way to keep patrons apart—with the added bonus of making people laugh. She said: “In these difficult times, it’s a pleasure to make others smile.”
We like her style.
BRB, ordering pool noodles on Amazon. . .