How to Host Socially Distanced Events

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Whether you’re a full-time event planner or putting on a one-off event for your organization, the landscape has changed dramatically as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic. Instead of discussions about how to create the most intimate and connective environment possible, we’re having planning sessions on social distance guidelines for gatherings and how to comply with the CDC.

And while a lot of that can feel somewhat draining, it doesn’t have to take all the wind out of the sails of your event. By understanding how to host a socially distanced event properly, you can meet social distancing guidelines, keep your guests and staff safe, and still put on a memorable event.

CDC Recommendations

Stop number one when putting on a socially distanced event is the CDC social distancing guidelines. Every aspect of your event should be planned and executed under the umbrella and coverage of these guidelines. Not only does that help to keep you compliant, but it also helps to keep your staff and guests as safe as possible.

Here are some tips when looking through the CDC recommendations for event planning:

  • Realize the guidelines are fluid and change frequently. Check now and check often to make sure you’re following the best and most up-to-date social distancing guidelines for gatherings. Note that guidelines are specific to your city/state/county.
  • Invest some time in the process. You’ll save yourself time, money, and headaches by investing some upfront time in fully understanding the requirements.
  • Build some wiggle room into the budget in case something changes that you need to comply with.

Consider Hosting Your Event Outside

One of the best ways to put on a successful socially distanced event is to avoid the uphill battle as much as possible. Yes, the ability to run events inside eliminates some weather concerns and logistical concerns (power, water, security, etc.). However, the social distancing guidelines for gatherings are much more stringent when you move the event to an enclosed location.

  • If possible, consider changing the nature of your event to something you can do outside that still accomplishes your goal. Various types of fundraisers such as golf outings, car shows, fun runs, and BBQ picnics.
  • It doesn’t have to be an all-or-none solution. Even if you’re only able to move parts of your event outside, it’s a step in the right direction. Try and shift as much as possible, but if you can’t get the entire event outside, do what you can.

Limit the Number of Attendees

The unfortunate fact that’s hard to mitigate is the more people you invite to an event, the higher the risk of transmission of COVID-19 and the more challenging hosting social distancing events becomes. Make an honest assessment of your resources and capabilities for social distancing and set your maximum number of attendees accordingly. It’s not ideal, but it’s something that needs to be done to protect the event industry as a whole.

  • See if there is a way to host a portion of your guests virtually.
  • Consider setting up multiple satellite locations that operate simultaneously.
  • Be open and upfront about the limitations with your guests.

Mitigate Through Social Distancing Measures

You can study the guidelines, move the event outside, and limit the number of guests, but if you don’t implement some real mitigation efforts, you’re going to have some issues. Hosting social distancing events does require a lot more planning and more resources, but it’s still possible to achieve a safe and successful event.

  • Don’t forget to look at social interactions in-between your events. For example, if you have a well-spaced out room where you’re running a conference or classes—great. However, if you forget to look at the narrow hallway everyone has to walk down at the same time to get in, you may have some issues.
  • Look at other successful events in your area to see how they’re hosting social distancing events. Things like staggered entry, multiple sessions, satellite events, and virtual options are creative and out-of-the-box ways to marry safety and success.
  • Don’t forget to budget for social distancing guidelines. Things like hand sanitizer stations, hand washing stations, PPE, and cleaning supplies cost money. If you build it into your budget from day one, though, you won’t have any unexpected surprises or cuts down the line.
  • Remember to plan for the exchange of money with ticketing or donations. If you can move that process digitally, it cuts down on a lot of hand-to-hand transactions.
  • Share the guidelines with your guests prior to the event. People are much more understanding when they’re informed about what is happening and why.

Leverage Technology

In the past, many events could get by with manual processes, open invitations, and much looser control on the overall event. However, when it comes to successfully hosting social distancing events, that all changes. Things like firm registration lists, attendance tracking, electronic ticketing, event mobile app with ticket scanning, and disseminating social distancing guidelines are more important than ever. While you don’t have to micromanage every little aspect of the event, you will want to exercise more control to make sure things are safe and smooth.

Do you need to do all of this on your own? Thankfully, no. By leveraging forward-thinking and cutting-edge event planning technology, you can inexpensively set your event up for success. Prepare to be adaptive, and let the tech help to weather some of the added burdens.

The Next Step

One of the easiest-to-use and most powerful event planning programs out there that can help you put on a masterful and fully compliant socially distanced event is Event Espresso. With a few clicks of the mouse, you and your team get full control over things like registration lists, scheduling multiple time slots or sessions, tracking attendees, ticketing, and even collecting donations or ticket purchases.

You have a lot on your plate with the event and making sure you’re properly following social distancing guidelines. Why not leverage the power of technology to take the bulk of the work off your plate so you can focus on what you do best—putting on an incredible event for your people.

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