As 2020 comes to a close, there is a good chance that you, along with a multitude of others, are looking forward to a fresh start when the calendar turns to 2021. I think we can all agree that we are ready for our world to have more normalcy. As we look ahead and begin planning events for the new year, here are some things to consider and keep in mind.
Since it will probably take several more months before COVID-19 is a distant memory, a hybrid meeting experience is a great option to consider for your audience. A hybrid event offers attendees the opportunity to attend in person, virtually, or a combination of both. Determine what form of hybrid best fits your programming needs. Your hybrid event might consist of 50% of participants meeting in-person at the event site while the other 50% tune in via remote access. Another type of hybrid experience may feature some sessions held with a live audience while other sessions are live streamed with the participants spaced around an event venue. Or, your hybrid event may be a combination of both of these examples.
For hybrid experiences, be mindful of how each audience receives programs throughout the event. Carefully think through each program to ensure that the in-person and virtual attendees are getting the most out of each session. Clearly communicate how on-site participants and remote participants can best connect with each other, with session speakers and event coordinators.
Mail or deliver all event materials well in advance to virtual attendees. This includes pre-event reading materials, schedules, contact information for registrants and coordinators, goody bags or other contributions from sponsors. Make sure your virtual guests are just as prepared for a successful experience as your in-person guests.
A strong and reliable internet connection is paramount when offering virtual elements to your programming. Make sure you have the best connection possible and frequently test to make sure you do not have “dead” spots in the conference center. Make sure attendees know how to log in and connect with the Wi-Fi by sharing the information in pre-meeting materials, reminder correspondence and signage around meeting rooms and on social media.
Even after the pandemic is no longer, people will continue to be hyperaware of staying healthy. People who attend events in person will want to be confident that their fellow eventgoers are healthy and will not give them a virus or otherwise compromise their health. Continue to ask attendees to participate in a health screening before entering the event venue and encourage them to leave immediately upon having any symptoms of being sick.
The heightened cleaning and sanitation measures taken during the pandemic has brought to light the importance of clean environments. Maintaining stronger sanitation and disinfecting protocols and communicating your commitment to these protocols to attendees will help give them peace of mind while keeping them healthy.
When people attend events, many may feel more comfortable maintaining a social distance of six feet or, at least, attending in a less crowded environment. Masks may also remain a staple for the foreseeable future and handshakes will be replaced with nods or elbow touches. We may want to be open to the possibility that these practices are part of a new normal.
COVID-19 has brought a new meaning to the concept of shifting paradigms. At The Conference Center at GTCC, we have chosen to see it as an opportunity to apply creative ideas and fresh approaches to planning that keep everyone safe and healthy. Just because things in the future may look different does not mean they have to be second-tier. A positive attitude, out-of-the-box ideas and a renewed enthusiasm for trying new things may result in events that are better than you ever imagined. We are all hopeful that the new year will be better in every possible way than 2020. The team at The Conference Center at GTCC is always dedicated to offering clients the best event options so they can give attendees outstanding meeting experiences in a safe environment. You can rest assured that we remain committed to doing all we can to make every event experience the absolute best.