It seems wherever you go there’s only one thing people are talking about at the moment – coronavirus. It’s a real worry for the health of the nation, certainly individuals over a certain age or with existing health conditions. And there’s also the impact on businesses and the economy to consider.
Coronavirus is particularly relevant to me and my business. In a sector built on bringing people together, it looks certain that the events industry will take a hit, if only in the short term.
In situations like this people often feel helpless, so here I’d like to share some practical steps can we take to mitigate the financial impact of the virus and ensure that our clients, events and businesses don’t become another casualty.
Consider when to cancel
Scotland has now put a stop on events or meetings with over 500 people, but in England, we’re a few steps away from mass gatherings being cancelled. As the government outlines, cancelling events such as this often has the opposite effect and will cause people to meet in a less controlled environment. The football matches in Spain being played behind closed doors is a real-life example, fans still meet to watch the match, only outside the stadium without access to washrooms and hand sanitizer. Weigh up the options of cancelling and speak with your event organiser to get their advice.
Take steps to protect your guests
If you have a big event planned and still wish to go ahead, follow all of the Government’s latest advice which you can find here https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/coronavirus-covid-19/ .
Communicate to your guests that if they have a persistent and new cough, or a fever, they should not attend and instead self-isolate for seven days.
On the day, ensure there is plenty of access to hand sanitiser and hand washing facilities.
Plus introduce signage prompting guests to wash their hands frequently and avoid non-essential contact with others such as hand-shaking. The second point is hugely important. Very often in our social awkwardness, we continue to do things because ‘it’s polite’ to do so. As event managers it’s our job to make it very obvious that usual social norms are not expected. Tell them with signage, over the PA system and also ‘walk the walk’, as you greet guests inform them of the new protocols.
Work with your event planner to postpone
In challenging times, I always say turn to an expert. Understandably some clients will want to postpone their events – especially if they feel it will have less of an impact or poor attendance. People are understandably very concerned, but here is where getting a professional event planner involved can really soften the blow. We work with venues and suppliers, day in day out. And because we have those close working connections, we’ll be able to work through insurance policies, negotiate better cancellation packages and find favoured dates for rescheduling.
My advice would be not to cancel altogether, but postpone, that way we all still get the best out of our events and our investments.
Change the format
There will be certain events that can go ahead, not quite as planned, but with a virtual attendance. Technological advances within events could mean that rather than being there physically, delegates can watch a live stream, dial in, or use a virtual meeting system such as Google hangout. Speak to your event organiser about the options and bring in the professionals to ensure your tech doesn’t fail you when you need it most.
The overriding message I’d like to get across in this blog is ‘don’t panic’. For me, the government’s cautious, yet serious, approach is the right way to ensure the wheels of industry keep turning – for now at least. Look logically at how events can be reworked and reshaped to still deliver – albeit in a slightly different way.
At LTC it’s not quite business as usual, we’re being flexible, taking each day as it comes, hunkering down and carrying on in the most British way possible.