Covid-secure without ruining the delegate experience
The global pandemic has obviously hit the events and conferencing industry for six, with organisers having to find new and novel ways of delivering their activities. As we emerge from lockdown and face-to-face gatherings start to happen again, it will be more important than ever to manage your delegate's expectations well. You need to be doing everything you can to protect them, to make things easy for them, and to minimise their anxieties as this will help you build trust and loyalty for the future.
COMMUNICATE IN ADVANCE
Letting your delegates know exactly what to expect when they get to the venue will put them at ease and give them the confidence to enjoy their stay, rather than being anxious about it. Having been open for elite sports and essential training throughout the pandemic, we've received loads of feedback from guests to say that they felt perfectly safe throughout, even though they were nervous beforehand. It's natural that some people will have anxieties, but something as simple as a little document with all of the venue's safety measures can go an awfully long way to improving your delegate experience.
MEET AND GREET
A warm and friendly greeting when delegates arrive is absolutely essential to hitting the right tone for the rest of your event. Be sure to communicate the fine details of your event to the venue's Front Of House staff so they can be a friendly and reassuring point of information for your delegates, advising them of any procedures they need to be aware of, and directing them safely to exactly where they need to be. This will be the first opportunity to set your delegate's minds at ease and give them the confidence to enjoy the event without unnecessary worries or confusion.
Consider programming shorter sessions for your delegates. They may have concerns about the length of time spent in a confined space and, if you are asking them to wear face coverings, they may get uncomfortable sooner than normal. Having more frequent breaks with access to outdoor spaces will allow them to feel at ease and retain more information. Shorter sessions can also help to keep your sessions more focused. Research suggests that delegates begin to lose focus after 60 or 90 minutes of intense concentration and more regular breaks can help them to "reset" their minds ahead of the next session.
Think about the colour of any covid signage being used at your event. The colours of public signage are used to elicit certain emotions from the person reading it.
RED - Red is for "danger" and alerts people that a hazard is ahead.
YELLOW - Yellow signs are used whenever caution needs to be used.
GREEN - Green signs are usually safety-related, such as first aid or emergency exits.
BLUE - Blue is commonly used for information about a particular item or area.
So, unless you want to fill your delegates with fear or be "instructing" them of what they "must" do, we advise softer, blue signage. It's far more gentle, advisory and won't make them feel as worried during your event.
It's likely that social distancing will be with us in some form for a while yet which makes communal times such as breakfast, lunch, and dinner far more difficult. Currently, of course, gatherings are not permitted at all with food service severely compromised. Even as restrictions start to ease, it's likely that table service will still be a feature so make sure your venue is geared up for it! If they're not, disruption to the food service will MASSIVELY affect your delegate experience. Our venues have a web-based table/room service app that delegates can scan menus, order and pay from their own devices with the food/drink being delivered to their exact location. Don't underestimate how getting this wrong will tarnish the delegate experience!