In light of COVID-19, many planners are going through the evaluation process of whether or not to still meet as a group. If you have decided to still move forward with your event, we want to applaud you, but also arm you with a few additional COVD-19 meeting planning tips and considerations to help protect both you and your delegates during this time of heightened awareness.
Please note: If you are moving ahead with your program, but fear it may be smaller than expected, start to have conversations with your hotel ASAP about the financial implications of a smaller program. Reach out to us if you need help with that messaging.
COVID-19 Meeting Planning Tips for Events and Conferences:
What you can ask of your host hotel:
- Provide Kleenex boxes throughout the meeting rooms.
- Turn buffets into plated dinners- look at pre-sets and plated options
- Coffee to be poured by servers – versus the huge carafes and dispensers in the foyer
- Provide pre-packaged condiments – including sugar, cream, jam, etc.
- Break items are individually wrapped
- Banquet servers to wear gloves
- Microphones – change out roving audience mics to mic stands and ‘talking stations’ so no one is handling mics passing it around for instance. Have some wipes nearby to wipe mics down every so often
- Service washrooms more frequently,
- Increased sanitation practices around high-touch areas – tabletops, railings, door handles, elevator buttons.
- Pens and pads of paper individually set or eliminated
- If space allows, limit 5-6 people to an 8-person table – create more space between delegates. Similar rules can apply to classroom set ups. Theatre set up – increase distance between chairs.
- Other hotel considerations:
- ask if warmer water is being used throughout property
- ask if soap is anti-bacterial and effective on viruses
What you can do as the planner:
- Before the event – Publish an update via your conference website that you are “good to go”
- Provide hand sanitizer stations at registration and other high-touch areas – food stations, water stations, etc
- Provide wipes for keyboards and other surfaces.
- Provide an online experience for those that could not attend
- Start a log of those feeling sick while onsite
- Create speaking notes for your master of ceremonies around delegate best practices (see below)
What you can communicate to your exhibitors:
- Wipe down booth and high touch areas often (bring wipes!)
- Eliminate the candy/pen/tchotchke bowls. Hand out tchotchkes on an individual basis, or eliminate altogether! (Exhibitors can check out this post here about tradeshow best practices, see tip #6)
Help encourage your delegates as well, to be communicated pre and during event:
- Increase hand-washing and sanitization
- Be diligent around food stations and coffee stations
- Replace handshakes and hugs with greetings of “namaste” (Prince Charles was even seen practicing this greeting), or other greetings (I’m hoping the “curtsy” catches on….)
- Encourage delegates to STAY HOME if feeling sick (they can join virtually if the option is provided)
Other incredibly helpful resources:
- Government of Canada Risk Informed Decision Making for Mass Gatherings During COVID-19
- WHO Guidelines for Large Events
- CDC Guidelines for Large Events
- Government of Canada – Being Prepared
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)
- Events Industry Council