How the Coronavirus Outbreak is Affecting the Event Planning Industry: Part 2
2020 has already shaped up to be a crazy year so far, and the novel coronavirus COVID-19 is playing a large part in that. Due to the nature of the virus, and the global attention it’s received, people are attempting to take every precaution possible to keep themselves healthy. Aside from rigorous hand-washing and stocking up on disinfectants, some other safety measures include avoiding traveling… and avoiding other people altogether.
As an event planner, this is pretty much the exact OPPOSITE of what you want! Yes, it’s understandable why everyone’s feeling this way lately, and yes, there definitely will be cases where it’ll be best to either reschedule or cancel altogether. (At the end of the day, the safety of your clients and their guests always comes first!)
But that doesn’t mean that all events need to be avoided! It also doesn’t mean that certain precautions can’t be taken to help ensure that everyone stays healthy, and no unwanted germs are spread around. Realistically, the coronavirus doesn’t necessarily need to impact the event planning industry so negatively. Human interaction is entirely possible! So long as we play our part, you, your clients, and your business should be fine.
In Part 1, we looked at how the outbreak has been affecting both local and destination weddings. Now, let’s take a look at some of the other areas of the event planning industry…
How the coronavirus is affecting…
Event management deals with the organization of company events, such as:
- Company retreats
- Holiday parties
- Product launches
- Expos and Trade Shows
- And so much more!
Corporate event planning deals with small businesses, large companies, and everything in-between. Logically, the larger the client, the bigger the event can be. Whereas private events will tend to deal with a relatively smaller guest list, corporate event planners can often be putting together a function for thousands of people!
Here, we run into similar issues to what destination wedding planners are facing – one of them being the reluctance to travel. People are hesitant about being stuck in crowded airports with total strangers, traveling to unfamiliar territories, not to mention the risk of being caught up in quarantine during your travels. Rather than take the risk, most are simply opting to avoid it completely.
Even if the corporate event is local, in a place that’s free of the coronavirus, there’s still a certain level of reluctance to take part. Try to think of it from the perspective of a potential attendee: Sure, the area hasn’t been hit with the virus YET. But I’m going to be in a confined space with countless people, many of whom have traveled to the event from all over the world. There’s no way to keep myself safe in an environment like that!
How to work around this:
To cancel, or not to cancel?
For starters, is the event scheduled to take place in a hard-hit area? If so, then yes, it can’t take place right now. Full stop. In such a situation, you’ll need to sit down with your client and weigh all of the options. It very well may be that the best possible choice is to cancel it altogether.
Yes, cancelling a corporate event – especially if it’s a big one, with a large attendee list – can have financial consequences for the company. But it can prove to be even more damaging if your client were to proceed anyways, only to have next to no one show up.
On top of that, what if they didn’t cancel, only for a guest to attend and wind up getting sick? That’s a PR nightmare right there!
Alternately, if it’s in the cards, your client can choose to reschedule to a later date. Whenever that is will be determined once their location is confirmed to be virus-free. If this is the chosen solution, urge your client to make the announcement publicly and as soon as possible.
Not only will guests appreciate being given as much notice as possible, but it’ll probably also look good on the company. After all, they’d be showing that they care about their guests more than whatever benefits they’d get from hosting the event.
If your client chooses to proceed…
Depending on the scale of event, you can always review the budget with your client and see if there’s any room to add in any safety features or precautions. For example, you could consult local medical facilities/personnel to get advice on any measures that could possibly be put into place for the event.
Importantly, everyone on board should be prepared for the worst possible scenario. Ask your client, what if at the event, an attendee suspects they may be infected with the coronavirus? How will your client want to approach the situation? Should they, for instance, consider adding in some sort of isolation plan for symptomatic guests?
It’s critical that a crisis communication plan be arranged and put into place BEFORE the day of. In all likelihood, such measures won’t even need to be utilized when the time comes. But simply knowing they’re there if needed will ease the mind of not only your client, but every guest attending the event.
Note: All of the above advice is applicable to festival and/or live event planners, too!
What ALL events should provide to guests
Whether you’re running a private celebration or a corporate event, a birthday party or a big music festival, you’re going to need the same basic things on the day of.
It’ll alleviate a lot of the guests’ concerns if they have access to PLENTY of things they can use to protect themselves throughout the day. Some examples would be:
- Hand sanitizers
- Wet wipes
- Facial tissues
- Latex gloves
- Face masks, etc.
We’re not saying that your clients have to go out and do anything fancy (although, hey, personalized face masks could potentially be the hottest trend of the year). It can be as simple as making sure there’s plenty of hand disinfectant bottles around the venue. Or maybe setting up stations carrying the above items.
But your client can have as much fun with it as they want! They can work it into their décor, such as having cute little signs that playfully remind guests to keep their hands clean, not touch their face, etc. Each attendee could have their own ‘medical supply kit’. Maybe it’s as easy as giving a bottle of hand sanitizer as the party favor!
Want to discourage guests from shaking hands or hugging? How about introducing an official “event dance” and encourage guests to use it as a greeting instead of touching each other! Just planting that seed in guests’ head can help them feel safe if they want to say “no” to physical contact or getting too close to another person.
Think about other ways you can change the venue to limit the spread of germs. In yesterday’s piece, we discussed opting for outdoor weddings to take advantage of optimal ventilation and give people more space instead of cramming them inside a venue.
Could this work for your event? Or how about changing the meal plan from a buffet where everyone is sharing serving utensils to a sit-down meal served by waiters, where everyone keeps their hands to themselves.
Any little bit helps. Most importantly, it will REALLY comfort the guests. Not only will it help decrease their chances of catching anything, it’ll allow them to actually enjoy the experience and have fun at the event!
Can you think of other ways that you can keep yourself, your clients, their guests, and your overall event planning business safe from the coronavirus outbreak? Leave us a comment below and give us YOUR tips! J