City Cruises

How To: Organise a Covid-safe meeting

Jack Marczewski, Event Director of The Meetings Show (at ExCeL on September 30th & October 1st), discusses the steps event organisers can take to keep delegates safe at their meetings and events…

In-person meetings and events in the UK have been on hold for over a year due to restrictions to stop the spread of Covid-19.

Now, as restrictions lift, many are planning to organise and/or attend in-person meetings and events again. The latest survey of planners by Northstar Meetings Group, which has been tracking sentiment since March 2020, found that nearly three quarters (71%) are in favour of meetings industry organisations or related businesses holding in-person events, showing real appetite for the return of face-to-face.

This sentiment was reinforced by the fact that 24% of planners said they were already planning new events rather than postponing. However, as most of us have been encouraged to keep our distance from those outside our households to protect one another for so long, some may also – understandably – be feeling nervous about getting out there and mixing with others again.

Anyone hosting meetings and events therefore needs to protect those attending, but also reassure them that their priority is keeping them safe. The number one rule for organising a Covid-safe meeting is to choose a venue that takes safety seriously and has Covid-secure measures in place.

ExCeL in London, for example, has worked alongside the Association of Event Venues (AEV) to develop the All Secure Standard. This is an industry-wide benchmark for the safe return of events. There are similar benchmarking schemes offered by the Meetings Industry Association (AIM Secure) and VisitBritain (We’re Good to Go) which set guidelines for venues to meet to receive their accreditation.

When you have decided on your venue, the next key step is to ensure you communicate with all stakeholders. Keep having conversations with your host venue or event manager about the steps being taken to keep your staff and delegates safe. Then, communicate with your attendees about the work you and your proposed venue are doing to keep them safe when they visit, and tell them how they can support this.

Communicating safety plans with everyone involved in your event before it happens is essential. Telling them what is expected of them while attending and underlining their role in keeping themselves and their fellow attendees safe before the date itself will inspire confidence and avoid any misunderstandings on the day.

We at The Meetings Show have already learnt the value of bringing people together and recognise the part that pre-show communication plays in achieving this. Each event or meeting is unique and therefore practical operations for safety will differ for each one.

But when organisers follow the guidance, install relevant protocols, and communicate with their stakeholders, everyone stands the best chance of staying safe.