Latest News: COVID-19 and the events industry (01 May)
So. . .apparently it’s May already?
We have no idea how that happened. But this just fuels our theory that time works differently in lockdown…
Putting that hypothesis aside for now, let’s start the month as we mean to go on—keeping busy, keeping in touch, and keeping you all informed of the goings-on in the temporarily-virtual events world.
Today we’ve got: an insight into post-pandemic travel; a live map for tracking global lockdown restrictions; venue hygiene certificates giving event profs peace of mind; digital gift ideas for virtual events; and a love letter to our ever-resourceful industry.
How will we travel after COVID-19?
It’s proving difficult to predict how life will look post-lockdown, but people are starting to wonder whether the global COVID-19 pandemic will change some of our habits for good. Habits like travel, for instance.
Smart Meetings explored the issue, asking questions like…Will international travel lose out to domestic excursions? Will business travel decrease in favour of virtual site visits, or even digital events? And will cramped airplane cabins be a thing of the past if social distancing is to be maintained? (We’ll add ‘no more middle seats’ to the admittedly-short list of good things to come out of this situation.)
The article signs off with a positive prediction about travel bouncing back—albeit with new procedures and protocols—quoting an appropriate sentiment from writer Mark Twain:
“Travel is fatal to prejudice, bigotry, and narrow-mindedness, and many of our people need it sorely on these accounts. Broad, wholesome, charitable views of men and things cannot be acquired by vegetating in one little corner of the earth all one’s lifetime.”
We couldn’t agree more, Mark—but we’ll be vegetating in one little corner of the sofa until lockdown’s over.
Lockdown & travel restrictions around the world
For now, flying anywhere seems like a distant possibility. So we’ll be keeping an eye on global travel restrictions and lockdown regulations in the meantime, with the help of C&IT’s live lockdown map. They’re monitoring the lockdown status of countries around the world, alongside travel restrictions and rules on social gatherings. It’s a useful resource—especially as some countries are beginning to lift these restrictions, and it’s becoming harder to keep track of where everyone’s at.
Israel’s PM Benjamin Netanyahu, for example, announced that hotels will re-open for domestic tourists on 3 May; and the Lithuanian capital of Vilnius decided that large areas of the city will become open-air cafés to facilitate social distancing. (On the other end of the spectrum, the Swedish city of Lund took the unusual measure of dumping chicken manure on one of its parks to deter people…that’s one way to do it.)
You can view the lockdown status map here.
Hygiene certificates for virus-free venues
Earlier in the week, we shared the news that hotels around the world are revising their sanitation procedures, with Marriott leading the charge. Hilton have now followed suit with their new ‘CleanStay’ measures placing increased emphasis on contactless check-in, whilst introducing new disinfection tech like ultraviolet light and electrostatic sprayers (you can find out what the hell that means here).
It’s also been announced that Europe’s largest hospitality company, Accor S.A., has introduced third-party testing for hygiene certification across its 4,800 hotels. This means that—once their properties pass these thorough, independent inspections—they’ll be awarded a certificate of safe hygiene that can be viewed online by potential clients. Not only will this reassure event profs that the meeting room they’ve booked is virus-free, it will also provide proof to governments in the process of reviewing lockdown restrictions that safety measures are in place.
In other words, venues and hotels are doing everything in their power to open for business.
Digital gift ideas for virtual events
A few briefings back, we shared some sponsorship ideas for virtual events, since online gatherings deprive delegates of all that branded merch they usually pick up at conferences. Well, going digital doesn’t have to mean ditching the gifts. The Bizzabo Blog has offered up 19 digital gift ideas for your virtual attendees. These ideas cover all the bases across 4 categories:
- Nice ways to say thank you—e.g. personalised thank-you notes, video messages, and gift cards.
- Personal development—e.g. digital bullet journals, personality tests, and online courses.
- Subscriptions & memberships—e.g. Netflix, virtual gyms, and care packages.
- Giving back—e.g. named donations and micro-lending gift cards.
We’d be happy to receive any one of these…but after nearly 6 weeks in lockdown, the virtual haircut consultation sounds equal parts appealing and horrifying.
“Who goes first?” AKA, online meeting etiquette
When it comes to online meetings, everyone wants to talk about boosting engagement. But what about the equally-important task of banishing awkwardness? Surely we’ve all been in *that* video call where everyone speaks at once, then sits in painful silence staring at each other? Well, Conferences That Work is here to save the day with their protocols for virtual meetings.
It’s a fool-proof guide to facilitating online discussions and choosing who speaks first. If “who wants to start?” doesn’t do the trick (no-one ever wants to start) then why not let a random criteria decide? Things like ‘nearest birthday’, or ’first name closest to start of alphabet’, or ‘most pockets’ (?). They even suggest having a ‘plant’ to get the ball rolling (i.e. a reliable participant with a pre-prepared response) which is wonderfully over-the-top. Honestly, it’s the advice we never knew we needed.
Events industry rallying for the common good
To finish up for the day, we had to share this article from Event Industry News about how the Scottish events industry is uniting to support key workers and the wider community during the COVID-19 crisis—AKA, all the ways in which our industry is absolutely awesome. To name a few…
- Across the country, more than 200 hotels have opened their doors to accommodate front-line medical staff and key workers, providing over 20,000 beds FOC.
- The EICC (Edinburgh International Conference Centre) is gathering info on local volunteering opportunities to support charities and vulnerable people.
- Glasgow’s SEC (Scottish Events Campus) is one of several UK venues to be transformed into a temporary hospital.
- And a number of the country’s distilleries, including Brewdog and Kingsbarn Distillery, have adapted their facilities to produce much-needed hand sanitiser. Spirits group William Grant & Sons are also on board, dedicating production in three of its distilleries to the cause.
If you need a pick-me-up in time for the weekend, give it a read in full.
That’s the industry we know and love <3