How-To: Host Face-To-Face Events Again
42% of event professionals say that the biggest driving factor to attending 2022 events is being able to network, according to The Venue Booker.
Face-to-face events make networking so much easier. And in-person events are increasing in frequency compared to the previous 2 years. Therefore, you’ll need to learn how to return to hosting to face-to-face events in a safe way that’s also a seamless transition from your virtual or hybrid events.
Only 18% of event professionals said in 2021 that they’re confident when planning in-person events, according to EventMB’s State of the Event Industry Report. Are you a part of the 82% that would like to read some tips to improve your conviction in hosting in-person events in 2022? Read below as we’ll offer you just that.
1. Communicate With Attendees
Before confirming that your next event will be in person, it’s worth gathering some feedback.
63% of organisers told EventMB that they expect their upcoming events to be hybrid. So, fully in-person events are still not the norm for organisations, and many attendees are expecting to attend events virtually if they’d feel safer.
Consequently, the first step is to ask your event staff, and your target audience, about how they feel about attending large face-to-face events. You don’t want to commit to hosting an in-person event if you won’t get a good turnout. It’d also be a great idea to ensure that in these communications, you are specific about what kind of event they’d be signing up to. For instance, you could ask:
• Would you attend a face-to-face event if masks were compulsory?
• Would you be comfortable attending a face-to-face event if hand sanitisers were placed in each room?
• Would you prefer to attend an event with social distancing requirements, e.g. 1-metre-apart rules, or without them?
2. Have a Back-Up Plan
Based on the reaction garnered from your audience in the previous step, you may need a Plan B. For instance, if many people say they’re not comfortable attending in person, or would just prefer to attend online because it’s more convenient, you might want to do as Corporate Events suggest: keep flexible and potentially “weave in elements of virtual into your event”.
Have a back-up plan that allows for a hybrid event. If this is too difficult to arrange, you could just switch to a smaller venue for your limited attendee list. However, we do recommend having a hybrid event so that as many attendees as possible have the option of attending virtually. You can accomplish this via a livestream of your event that’s broadcasted to your online audience.
This would be a great way of increasing your event’s reach, accessibility, longevity, ROI and engagement, so read up on how to plan for a hybrid event here.
3. Consider a Safety Plan
67% of event marketers report that their policies include explicit language around COVID-19 safety protocols.
This explicitness is vital, especially as some of your attendees may disagree with others on whether they should be behaving in a certain way. For instance, how close they should get to each other, whether they should wear masks, etc.
Even if your rules are only guidance, the attendees need to know what that guidance is. You should be as transparent as possible, especially when considering event risk assessments.
Therefore, if you want to know how to host a face-to-face event in 2022, a safety plan is crucial.
Ensure that you’re covered for COVID-related cancellations. e.g. if barely any staff can attend as they’re ill/isolating, if the venue has to close, etc.
How big does your venue have to be to keep people safe and socially distanced? What’s the venue’s cleaning schedule? Are you hiring your own cleaning team? How much ventilation are you ensuring? How wide are the corridors? Do certain areas require the wearing of masks? Are you having signage on the floor to show people where they should stand in queues/sit in the audience? Are you providing sanitisation stations? Do you have to arrange this yourself or is it up to the venue owners?
Do you require upon entry: COVID passes, negative test results, temperature checks, contact tracing check-ins etc.? And are these compulsory or just advised? Are your entry times staggered to avoid a rush?
Do you have any vulnerable attendees? What do you advise attendees to do if they wish to attend but have recently tested positive/someone they’ve been in contact with has tested positive?
Make sure to compile all of the above in your pre-event communications plan and event signage. This way, attendees are reassured of their safety and know what they have to do/expect before your event.
Earlier, we mentioned flexibility. Beore hosting your face-to-face event, keep checking government guidelines as we all know how quickly these can change. That way, any safety measures can be added or withdrawn from your plan to ensure a safe but enjoyable event experience.
We recommend putting these in a shared collaborative document. Any early or last-minute changes can easily be communicated to everyone on your team. Also, they can be adapted into your face-to-face event plan ASAP.
4. Pre-Event Messaging
Face-to-face events haven’t been the norm for a little while. The messaging and other marketing materials you send out prior to your event should be sensitive of this. Event consultancy Freeman told Associations Now that event professionals should try not to promote the size of the event as the main selling point for exhibitors and attendees to register. Instead, “many attendees will be balancing the desire for connections and community with their fear of crowds”. So, event promoters should focus on the smaller, more intimate connections that can be made at the event, within smaller settings e.g. a CEO breakfast, LGBTQ+ reception, or mentor program, etc.
5. Choose a Suitable Event Supplier
Corporate Events state that your event supplier should not just be a one-off supplier. They should instead be more of an extension of your team. They should have sufficient experience in face-to-face events, and align with how flexible your team will be in hosting this event. As you’ll be focusing on event safety, requiring a backup plan, and communicating event changes, they sould be a supplier that can also communicate well. Furthermore, they should have a good idea of your event objectives, so their activities will always align with what you’re aiming for.
If you’re hosting a face-to-face event soon, keep the above tips in mind as much as possible.
Remember, the future of events is currently hybrid. So, even if you’re facilitating a face-to-face component of your event, you should still broadcast some of it to a virtual audience. Hire CPD Online to livestream your next event by filling in our contact form here.