It’s been a while since we’ve all seen each other face-to-face. Depending on where you are in the world, restrictions have been different and most of us have been connecting from behind a screen for nearly two years now. But as we enter 2022 the return to in-person events has arrived! We’ve learned how to interact safely and responsibly, vaccines are widely accessible, and people are craving interpersonal connections more than ever before. But, as we do start revisiting in-person events in 2022, we must tread cautiously.
Comfort levels will be unique to each individual. Experiences from the pandemic have changed people. And let’s be honest—a lot of us have forgotten the art of small talk and need a little bit of help getting out there again. Sound familiar? So, as you start to plan your first live events in a couple of years, how do you begin ensuring your attendees are comfortable, and that they’re also having a great time they’re going to talk about to their peers? We have some ideas…
Ideas to Ensure Attendee Comfort at Your In-Person Events
The safer your attendees feel the more successful your event will be!
Apply All the COVID-19 Safety Measures Possible
This could be a blog post in itself, but there are a few things you’ll absolutely want to consider when applying COVID-19 safety measures on-site at your event. First, consider pre-event COVID testing. It’s now become incredibly easy to send attendees COVID-19 tests to their door prior to the event to ensure everyone is healthy on-site. Then, upon arrival, you can implement mask mandates and temperature checks at the door. Clean high-touch areas hourly and hand sanitizer stations are everywhere. You could even go as far as to have COVID-19 Safety Enforcement Managers on-site to ensure COVID-19 safety policies and procedures are being followed by team members and attendees.
Create a No Touch or Low Touch On-Site Experience
Do you cringe every time you have to touch the pen on the credit card machine to sign these days? If so, you aren’t alone. And that’s the same feeling your attendees are going to have when it comes to touching high-traffic items on-site. By creating touchless check-in and payment options, gesture-based interactive displays, and individually packaged catering options you’re going to be able to ensure comfort with that touch-free or low-touch experience.
Provide Colored Accessories to Display Comfort Levels
You’ve probably seen this floating around LinkedIn since the beginning of the pandemic. And that’s because it’s such a great idea! You can provide attendees with colored wristbands, pins, lanyards for name badges, each color representing a different comfort level. Red means no handshakes or hugs and masked-only interactions. Whereas green means they’re okay to mingle pre-pandemic-style. It takes the awkwardness out of interactions and allows attendees to respect boundaries and mingle comfortably!
Give People Space & Get Outside
Event design goes much further than just choosing between 60” and 72” rounds for your evening event now. You might want to consider creative layouts that allow for greater social distancing, even if it isn’t necessarily required by your destination. Organizations like Marriott have provided some great ideas for creative layouts that provide each attendee with their own, safe bubble! Some organizations are even offering attendees the option to choose their seats as they would for a concert or flight. Our team has a lot of fun and creative ideas to share, too.
You’ll also want to manage traffic flow a little bit better and maybe have shifts for trade show floor visits and smaller breakouts.
When you can, take your event outdoors! Host your evening events in the courtyard with food trucks or set up all your sponsor and exhibitor displays outdoors under an epic open-air tent with outdoor sessions to get people moving that direction.
Ideas to Get the Fun Times Rolling at Your In-Person Events
The best way to say “thank you” to attendees for coming out and helping your company get back to meeting face-to-face is an epic experience they won’t forget.
Entertain Guests Upon Arrival with an Interactive, Yet Safe Step & Repeat
As guests arrive on-site, provide them with an interactive experience right off the bat. But one that feels safe too. Make your step-and-repeat welcome interactive! Make it a red carpet with real (masked) paparazzi, offer champagne or gifts from a hand behind a curtained window, allow them to “make a wish” and put their wish on the wall.
Offer Interaction Around Every Corner
Using IMEX 2021 as an example, one of our favorite virtual event platforms, Hopin, provided attendees with the opportunity to screen print their own bag, rather than just picking one up in passing. No one wants tchotchkes or meaningless flyers; giveaways need to be interactive and create connections to make an impact!
Welcome Guests Before They Get On-Site
Previously at events, a first impression would be when they arrive at check-in. But since many events as we return to in-person formats are smaller, customize arrival experiences. Greet them at the airport with a band playing local music or greet them with an amenity in their room featuring products and items from local purveyors. Make them feel special!
Feature Wellness Activities, Not Just Education
Yes, education is usually the top reason people attend events. But if there’s anything the past nearly two years has taught us, it’s that slowing down isn’t always a bad thing. Offer wellness options on-site like a lunchtime yoga break, a 5K for charity pre-event kick-off, or a meditation space with hourly guided meditations. It’s a great way to reduce the stress that may be associated with first-time in-person gatherings, and a lovely way to show that your organization has been listening to the needs of your attendees even when you haven’t been able to be together in so long!
Need a Little Guidance Planning Your First Post-Pandemic Live Event? We’ve Got You Covered.
Planning face-to-face events isn’t as simple as it was pre-pandemic. Okay, maybe it was never simple. But now it’s even more complex and there are a lot more considerations and you need a plan B, C, D, and E. Let a professional team of planners help guide the way and ensure you’re creating an experience that your attendees will love. Let’s chat about your event vision and how we can help you bring it to life!