By Lisa Major
As some cities and states loosen restrictions on events and gatherings, conference and convention venues are preparing for the return of in-person events with attendee safety being the top priority. But it doesn’t end there. Conference organizers and event planners also need to establish event-specific protocols to help keep attendees healthy and safe.
Long before the event, create a plan that outlines all health, safety, and sanitation measures for the conference space and protocols for anyone who enters the conference space. The plan should include steps that the venue itself is taking as well as event-specific procedures and guidelines for attendees, vendors, and conference staff.
You will need to examine the event space to ensure that it is large enough to accommodate attendees and conference activities with physical distancing in mind. Assess every inch of the space to determine the flow of attendees – from entryways and registration areas to break-out sessions and break areas. In doing so, you can identify areas that may become congested so that you can reconfigure elements and processes to align with your safety plan.
Unfortunately, this is our reality for the time being, but it could be paramount in stopping the spread of the virus at an event. Pre-entry screening for conference attendees can begin 24 hours before the event with a digital questionnaire that covers COVID-19 related questions.
Upon arrival, attendees should be screened for fever. As an organizer, there are several temperature screening options to consider, including non-contact infrared handheld thermometers and thermal imaging systems. No matter which type of screening system you choose, you will need trained safety ambassadors to perform screenings, provide direction, and monitor temperature readings.
Provide plenty of easily accessible hand sanitizing stations and handwashing sinks throughout the venue and offer personal protection equipment (PPE) to attendees and event staff. In doing so, safe practices will remain at the top of attendees’ minds and will encourage them to practice good hygiene and exercise caution when touching surfaces.
You will also need to consider the health and safety of your staff by providing them with PPE and ample handwashing breaks throughout their shift(s).
With COVID has come the rebirth of the QR code. Swap paper handouts such as itineraries and marketing materials for digital documents that are accessible with a QR code.
Communicate all procedures and protocols with attendees, vendors, and staff before the conference. For starters, being transparent about the precautions that you are taking will help people feel more comfortable about attending in-person. Secondly, giving clear directives on event requirements, such as masks, check-in procedures, symptom screenings, and so forth, will eliminate any surprises upon arrival.
During the event, signage that promotes social distancing, good hygiene, and PPE use is crucial. You can also lean on your conference staff and safety ambassadors to remind attendees of expectations and they can field questions and/or concerns about safety protocols.
The requirements and guidelines surrounding gatherings and events are ever-changing on local, state, and national levels. Stay on top of the current guidelines during the planning phase and leading up to the event by reviewing publications released by the CDC and state health departments. It’s also a good idea to have a designated local contact who can keep you informed and up-to-date on local guidelines.
Show grace and flexibility by offering a no-strings-attached refund policy. In doing so, you will instill confidence in those who may be on the fence about attending. Additionally, this will help deter attendees who aren’t feeling well from going.
As you prepare for the return of in-person conferences and meetings, ATN Event Staffing is your one-stop solution for your staffing needs. We can provide experienced and professional conference staff, safety ambassadors, and COVID-19 compliance officers to assist with a variety of tasks relating to attendee safety as well as general conference support.
ConExpo was a huge success! Staffing could not have been any better – truly. Our entire team was beyond impressed with how great ATN was! Our leads were outstanding and their support was greatly appreciated by our team. You provided us with such a rock star group and everyone had nothing but great things to say. We loved how the staff was genuinely interested in the experience and became familiar with their ‘zones’. Rotations were very smooth and changing their positioning each day helped keep things fresh for the staff. We look forward to working with your team again.