As new cases of COVID-19 are confirmed every day, it is difficult not to worry about the effects it will have, both short and long term. Almost every industry has been affected by recent events and event planning is no different. We’ve highlighted 5 steps you should take to safeguard your business, events, and clients from as much fallout as possible.
Step 1: Consider a Virtual Format
Virtual events are nothing new but, in a time where gathering in large groups is not advised, turning to a virtual format can be the best way to avoid throwing away all of the hard work that went into planning. Keep in mind that a virtual conference and a virtual meeting are NOT the same thing. When transitioning a conference from live to virtual, there are many factors to consider such as staying at your current venue or sourcing a new one, and finding businesses that are competent with lighting and sound. One of the biggest challenges is to find a software platform that can accomodate your needs for streaming and attendee engagement. Here’s some of our top picks for enterprise solutions for virtual conferences:
Step 2: Consult Your Attorney to Mitigate Risk
While legal actions may not be necessary, strategizing with a lawyer who is savvy in contracts is a necessary step whenever an event is canceled. One of the biggest “gray areas” that arises in these situations is defining an act of God. Talk to your attorney about your options based on insurance coverage, and work with them to comb through any contracts with venues, vendors, and clients. Then, make a legal action plan should any party disagree with your best practices. For more guidance, take a look at Meeting Professionals International’s article on COVID-19 and force majeure clauses.
Step 3: Utilize Your Resources
Whatever decision is made, you should feel empowered and confident in your decision. Making the best call for your event should strengthen attendee trust in you; not break it. Staying aware with accurate updates to support your decision is a must. Look out for news and press conferences from the World Health Organization and the Center for Disease Control along with your local and state governments. You can also use Twitter for on-the-minute updates by searching for information with trending hashtags.
Step 4: Plan Ahead
With cancellations and postponements happening by the minute, it’s important to start planning now for rescheduled events. Hotels, conference centers, and vendors are experiencing a serious crunch in cash flow, and will be eager to solidify dates later in the year. If you wait too late to reschedule, it may be well into 2021 before all of the necessary service providers are available for your event.
Step 5: Communicate, Communicate, Communicate!
Navigating the details of conferences and events is tough. COVID-19 adds an additional layer of panic and confusion. People want to hear from you about what’s going on! Having a united front when it comes to public relations will help eliminate confusion about decisions being made. Prepare one person or a team to answer any questions or concerns guests will naturally have. Coming up with a FAQ list and prepping general staff to answer basic questions can also help quell any uneasiness. There isn’t a need to share every single development from internal meetings, but crafting well-written and comprehensive communique to level with venues, vendors, clients, and guests is the best approach.