By Nicholas Bills, Managing Director, Glaziers Hall
As the number of people getting vaccinated increases, and the number of Covid cases drops, the chances of live events returning soon increases.
However, we need to continue to be careful, so that we don’t see case numbers go back up, leading us back into another lockdown.
So that you can make those first steps back into hosting, and attending, live events, we’ve put our heads together to develop a checklist, of sorts, for you…
Is there demand?
If you are thinking about running a live event, the first factor is whether there is demand. We are all desperate to get out again, to meet other people face to face, but there is a difference between saying it and willing to do it.
Are the people you would invite to the event confident enough to travel, particularly on public transport? How confident are they to be in a room with people they may not know? Most people seem to be following the guidelines. They are currently working from home and, when out, wearing masks (over their mouths and noses) when going into buildings. But how much do they trust others to be doing this?
The easiest way to find out is to ask them. If you regularly (used to) hold events, ask your regular attendees. If they wouldn’t, yet, attend an event, it is probably too early. Of course, if most say they will be attending, it is time to move forward.
Find a suitable venue
A suitable venue used to mean capacity, look and feel, location and price. Now a venue has to be so much more to be considered suitable for your first live event for a long time…
1. Covid Policies and accreditations
You need to be confident that the venue you choose is going to help you manage your guests’ concerns. Although the measures mentioned at the beginning should reduce risk of infection, your guests may still be concerned. Knowing that the venue has Covid accreditations and that they are recording the information they need to (visitor logs, body temperatures etc.) will help your guests believe your live event is safe for them to attend.
Right now, we don’t know when we will be able to hold events. However, it is likely there will be a flood of demand once we are “allowed out”, meaning dates get booked up really quickly. However, if restrictions last longer than expected, you don’t want to lose out. Your venue should allow you move dates, subject to availability of course, without charge.
3. Dedicated Entrances/Exits
Knowing that your guests won’t be mingling with others, through shared foyers, for example, will further allay concerns.
4. Socially distanced food and drink
Food and drink that requires you to queue encourages the spread of Covid-19. Even if your event is only for 2-3 hours, your guests would expect at least tea/coffee/water. Knowing these are available within socially distancing guidelines will further help people believe your event is safe to attend.
Could a hybrid event help some guests?
Some of your guests may still have concerns, or they may be in a higher risk category. If you are getting mixed reactions when assessing demand, a hybrid event may be a way forward. As the name suggests, hybrid events will have a mix of people being at the venue and then others joining online. Whilst not suitable for networking-style events, they can work extremely well for conference-type events. Having, for example, a panel on stage presenting, with live audience and an online audience, can be a powerful and successful event.
If you like the idea of a hybrid event, you will need to ensure the venue has the relevant AV equipment. It isn’t the same as they would use for a “normal” conference or similar event.
As we have all been working from home for so long, there’s a good chance that lots of events will happen pretty quickly when we are allowed out again. We recommend you invite people early, to secure their diary space. If the worst happens and you have to move the date, better to have their entry slot and have to move it, then not have it at all.
How to get there
When you do invite your guests, make sure you have researched all the various travel options:
- Where are the nearest car parks?
- Can people park their bikes close by, or is there a Santander Cycles bay nearby?
- What stations are the nearest?
- If the venue is close to the River Thames, is there a Clipper quay nearby?
Let people make the best choice for them, based on their concerns and personal preferences.
We know it can be stressful running a live event, especially have first one back. But events are meant to be fun. By the time the date arrives, all the hard work will have been done, so try to relax and enjoy the event. You will certainly have earnt it!
There is still some uncertainty about when we will be able to have live events again, but it will happen eventually. By planning carefully and taking into consideration your guests needs and concerns, there is no reason why you cannot host successful live events soon.
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