Health & Safety Planning for In-Person & Hybrid Events

April 13, 2022 by Alex Le
Read in 13 Minutes

For many, it’s been a while since they’ve attended an event in-person - especially with large crowds. It can feel daunting to return to what was once normal, now that we’ve gotten used to virtual events. 

As we gradually transition back into in-person and hybrid events, ensuring that attendees feel safe is top of mind for event managers. We’ll go over four key ways to make safety the top priority at your upcoming events, and how an event platform can help ease the transition. 

Make Sure Safety is Built into Your Venue 

A woman is cleaning a desk at a hybrid event

It’s crucial to make sure that the physical space being used to host your event is as safe as it can be. 

Choose a Venue that Can Safely Host Your Audience 

Begin by estimating the maximum number of in-person attendees you will host. Then, choose a venue that has enough space for everyone to comfortably socially distance themselves. It’s also important that this venue is aligned with local health and safety regulations and offers you support and best practices on how to keep your attendees safe within their space. Many popular venues will have published guidelines, and detailed information about how they go about ensuring this. Finally, consider setting occupancy limits on how many attendees can safely be in each room in your venue at any one time. This will give you a guideline on how many seats should be available for registration per time slot, for each session.   

Use Colored Cards to Stay Organized and Set Boundaries 

It’s very likely that each room in your venue will need to be cleaned before a new group of in-person attendees can occupy it. Use red and green cards to visually indicate whether in-person attendees are free to enter a room (green) or if it’s still in the process of being cleaned (red). In addition, ask your in-person attendees to disclose their comfort level towards social interaction with a colored sticker on their name card. For example, a green sticker can mean they’re open to handshakes, yellow that they’re fine with an elbow or fist bump and red that they’d prefer a socially distanced greeting.  

Set Up Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) Stations  

Make sure to include multiple sanitizer and PPE stations around the venue and encourage attendees to use them. These stations can offer hand sanitizer, gloves and masks as well as information on how to effectively socially distance and what different safety-related signage (ex: red cards and green cards) mean at your event. You can even offer PPE as a sponsorship opportunity for your event, as each item or brochure at your PPE station can be branded. 

Keep Your Attendees in the Loop 

Communicating via email with attendees

The best way to maximize comfort for your attendees is to prioritize communication and make sure they're fully informed on every aspect of your event.  

Ask Attendees What They Expect from Your Event 

Before you begin planning your event, send out a pre-event survey to past attendees to get a sense of what they expect from your upcoming event. Explicitly ask them about their comfort level around an in-person event and what types of health measures they would need to feel adequately safe from the risk of getting COVID-19. You can also inquire about their preference to either attend in-person or virtually and get an estimate of how many of each you’ll get at your event, so you can adopt a hybrid approach, if needed.  

Clearly Communicate Safety & Health Protocols 

It’s crucial to keep your attendees aware of the safety protocols in place, such as providing proof of vaccination, or a negative COVID-19 test result, before the event. Help your attendees prepare by sharing safety tips such as wearing a mask, social distancing and washing your hands frequently, via email and social media. Pre-event communications should also offer information on key FAQs such as where to upload or submit their negative COVID-19 test result and what to do in case attendees get sick shortly before the event is about to take place.  

Stagger Event Check-Ins to Prevent Overcrowding 

To maximize safety on event day, introduce staggered check-in times in advance so that attendees arrive at different time intervals, and avoid crowding. You may also want to use this method to help attendees safely attend and leave each session. Moreover, you may want to offer assigned or suggested seating, to indicate how attendees can stay socially distanced when sitting down and/or waiting in-line.   

Increase Digital Touchpoints and Engagement 

Woman is engaging with hybrid event via mobile phone

By increasing digital touchpoints across your event, it streamlines the process and makes it much safer by reducing the number of things participants are physically touching. 

Digitize Processes and Interactions Where Possible 

This can be done by offering virtual tickets and letting attendees check in with a scannable QR code. They can also submit their proof of vaccination or negative COVID-19 test result online, reducing the use of paper and saving time. Throughout the event, encourage touchless payments such as Apple or Google Pay, and the use of the event app to access nearby amenities. 

Centralize Communication and Networking with an Event-Wide Feed 

Connect virtual and in-person attendees with an event-wide company feed, where event organizers can make event-wide announcements and include prompts that encourage virtual interaction and networking. You can even allow in-person attendees to submit questions or use an in-app chat to get help whenever they need from your team. This makes it more convenient for in-person attendees to stay in-the-know during the event and maintain social distancing, as every answer they need can be found on their event app, without the need to find and speak to event staff.  

Be Prepared to Go Virtual as a Back-Up Plan 

In events there can be a lot of last-minute changes - so make sure you have a backup plan to keep the event going smoothly. Start by having a team or team member solely responsible for all things COVID-19 and safety related, to keep that aspect of the event covered. Along with that, one of the biggest benefits to having an event platform is being able to use it to smoothly transition to a hybrid or virtual event if needed. The platform allows the ability to share news among attendees to keep them in the loop, send meeting links to host presentations or breakout sessions, and keeps your entire audience connected.  

In this case, it’s crucial to make sure that your team is prepared for a possible transition, making sure they know what collaboration tools would be used and what steps to take to adapt from in-person to online. Also have your team be ready with fun topics for ad hoc breakout sessions to keep engagement going and make sure to have content like videos, infographics, past sessions or blogs on the event platform for guests to consume while technical difficulties or a transition is being sorted. It would also be suitable to have backup guest speakers in case a presenter gets sick or needs to back out.  

Powering In-Person and Hybrid Events of the Future 

Returning to in-person and hybrid events can be a lot to adjust to, but a hybrid event platform can offer great flexibility in the planning for your next event. If you’re interested in how you can enhance your event experiences for attendees, contact us today. 

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Alex is a Sales Representative at The CXApp. Specializing in new business sales, digitizing the corporate office, and enhancing the mobile employee experience.