On the 9th July, we took part in a lunch and learn hosted by Oddity, all about delivering safer events and what events will look like in the future.
Joining our Business Development Manager, Lauren De Meulemeester, on the panel were Kate Simpson (Marketing & Communications Director at Business Design Centre) and Natalie Shattock (Senior Events Manager at Morningstar). The session was led by Oddity director and founder Lizzie Eaton.
One thing connecting all these organisations is that they have either completed or are in the process of completing our Safer Events Accreditation, which they're using to prepare to reopen safely and confidently once the government allows.
You can watch the video below or read on for our key takeaways from the session.
One of the main challenges for event organisers and venues looking to put on safer events will be confidence (check out our infographic on understanding delegate confidence). Venues and organisers need to be able to reassure attendees that they've put measures in place that are going to result in a safe environment. This largely depends on communicating effectively to attendees exactly what measures have been put in place to keep them safe.
As Lauren pointed out, one of the aims of Hire Space's white paper and Safer Events Accreditation is to demonstrate to stakeholders not only that you're organising a safer event, but that you're going above and beyond the government guidelines, really cementing that element of trust. And of course, it also gives event planners and venues the confidence to know they've done all they can, which is just as important.
When organising a safer event, we need to consider the risk to reward ratio, as Natalie Shattock pointed out. Essentially, we need to think of ways to make the risk of attending an event in person worth the reward. This is especially important when organising a hybrid event, where consumers are able to access the content from home.
It comes down to both lowering the risk level (and effectively communicating it to attendees) and delivering an experience that makes it worth attending in-person. As Lizzie explained, holding a stakeholder's hand and helping them to visualise exactly what an event is going to look like has always been part of our job in the events industry, but now we have to step it up a notch. It's not just about helping them to visualise the content and decor, it's also about risk mitigation and helping people to break away from the anxiety related to attending an event.
Putting in place the necessary measures to keep employees and clients safe is going to cost the events industry money - whether that's buying PPE or reducing capacity. At a time when we're all likely to be more cost-conscious than ever due to having lost out on income over the last four months, this is going to be a significant challenge for many venues and organisers.
The government's guidelines are changing on a weekly basis, which can make it very hard to keep track of the safety measures venues and organisers need to put in place - whether that's PPE, physical distancing, staff training and more. The Hire Space white paper and accreditation were designed to provide a responsive set of measures that are relevant to the industry.
In creating the white paper, over 40 event planners were consulted, as well as the government, public health bodies and industry associations. But the important thing is that this consultation group is still active, meaning that as the government's guidelines change, the measures suggested can be continuously updated and fed back on to ensure that they're working for the events industry.
Whether it's going digital or trialling new features, the pandemic has resulted in more open-mindedness in the industry. Where in the past, people might have said 'we can't do that because we've always done it this way', now they're saying 'let's give it a try!' As Kate Simpson remarked, working remotely is just one huge example of where we've shown that we are able to adapt and work differently as an industry.
While many event planners probably had hybrid events and webinars in the back of their minds before the pandemic, the lockdown has really demonstrated how effective these avenues can be in helping organisations to achieve their goals. While they will never replace in-person events completely, it may be that they're actually better-suited for some briefs, giving us a greater range of tools at our disposal.
If an event looks exactly like it did pre-pandemic, the chances are that it's probably not safe. So, it's important that we can see the safety measures that are put in place when we attend an event post-pandemic, such as PPE and signs (visit our safer events shop to find everything that you need). However, it's also vital to strike the right balance between demonstrating that we're being safe and lessening the anxiety.
As Kate Simpson pointed out, we don't want to have the words COVID-19 staring down at us everywhere we look. And as Lizzie suggests, a blank, empty room with chairs two metres apart isn't exactly inspiring. So, we need to find ways of making sure the safety messaging is there, but that it's not the only thing there. Creativity is vital in terms of making sure that events can be fun and exciting as well as safe.
If you want to stay updated with the latest Coronavirus news and industry responses, visit our Coronavirus live updates page.
Plus, don't forget to download our white paper for safer events and check out our safer events accreditation in order to prepare for the eventual reopening of the events industry.