By Nicole Tisdale of Conference Managers
The on-site experience for attendees may be very different in the future. Here is a list of items and questions to keep in mind when planning events in the wake of COVID-19.
Will social distancing still be in place?
- Should we plan for distanced seating in the General Session and Breakouts?
- One chair or more between each person? Have the seats physically further apart?
- How will that work with our current room sets. Could we change the room sets to help? What is the best room set for this; rounds, theater, classroom?
- If we have lower attendance this will be easier to implement.
- How will it affect receptions, networking, and social events?
- Would we not have these events?
- Networking is an important aspect for many conference attendees.
- If we do have these networking events, what can we do to minimize contact and maximize distancing?
- Registration lines
- Marking on the floor 6 ft apart.
- Exhibit Hall
- Exhibit booths be placed further apart and have the isles widened.
How can the hotel/convention center help?
- Add gloved servers for all buffet meals.
- Have more plated meal options to reduce high touch food serving items.
- Have the venue clean each room in between sessions.
- This would be more for sessions with tables set in classroom, rounds, or conference.
- Having the table surfaces wiped down would show both our and the venue’s commitment to sanitation.
- Wipe down microphones in General Session and Breakout sessions after each use.
- Wipe down other high-touch items throughout the hotel more frequently.
- Provide (free) hand sanitizing stations throughout the venue.
How can the the association help?
- Implement a handshake-free meeting.
- Indicate that in the pre-meeting emails, and have signage throughout the meeting space.
- Order buttons or ribbons
- Push for a hand sanitizer sponsor.
- Have a hand sanitizer pump at every exhibit booth and everywhere else we can put one.
- Increase signage about COVID.
- What to do if you feel ill, The warning signs, CDC recommendations, No handshakes, Social distancing, etc.
- Create an onsite COVID crisis plan and share with attendees before the conference.
- Let attendees know what we are doing and the steps we are taking so they feel better about registering.
- Add a disclaimer to registration regarding catching an illness at the conference
- Should we record all General Sessions and Breakout Sessions?
- Should we live stream the General Sessions?
- Need to consider costs associated with those options.
- We could have a registration option for only virtual content.
- Lower cost than a regular ticket, but still allows members to get their education.
- Virtual tradeshow options?
- Would sponsors and attendees actually be interested in this?
- Virtual networking?
- Could we do this through an app provider?
- Should we offer the app to virtual attendees so they can message other onsite attendees?
- How will this affect the conference revenue?
- How will this affect the tradeshow?
- Will sponsors be less receptive to buy a booth if they know we will have lower attendance?
- What would be exhibitors’ tipping points in terms of attendance % for it to be worthwhile for them to participate in the meeting?
- Are there any exhibitors that will cancel regardless of projected attendance numbers? E.g. international exhibitors, their own organizational travel bans, budget issues, etc.
- Need to look at lower attendance financial scenarios.
- Consider sending out a poll to members before the meeting to gauge interest
- Is your organization under a travel ban?
- If yes, what is the timeline of the travel ban?
- Would you be interested in a virtual conference where research is presented live-streamed with the possibility of previously-recorded videos of talks?
- What part(s) of a virtual conference would you consider attending?