Let’s face it—hosting an event or meeting during this COVID-19 season is not for the faint of heart. As event planners, our questions have changed from, “How can I maximize the space to hold as many people as possible?” to, “How few people can I fit in a room to maintain proper social distancing and safety protocols?” But the main question on everyone’s mind is, “As the event planner, how can I ensure my people are safe?”
First of all, you’ve come to the right place. Here at Ridgecrest Conference Center, our event team will work closely with you to communicate and prepare you for what we are doing to keep our venue safe—our cleaning and sanitizing protocols, how we do foodservice, our event streaming capabilities, meeting room capacities and set-ups, physical distancing strategies, our new check-in processes and more. All of these new protocols have been put in place with you and your participants’ utmost safety in mind and fall within North Carolina’s COVID-19 safety guidelines and recommendations.
But what are some strategies you can implement to keep your people safe (besides masks, hand sanitizer, taking temperatures and latex gloves) while accomplishing your event goals? We don’t have an exhaustive list of ideas, but we do have some that might spur your creativity:
- Clearly communicate your safety protocol plan to your participants early and often. There may be people who might be on the edge about whether it’s the right thing to do to come or not. Explaining what is being done to keep them safe can help alleviate concerns and set their minds at ease, plus you can convey what is needed on their part once they get here.
- Consider offering multiple opportunities throughout the day to host worship, general sessions or breakouts. Due to social distancing restrictions, venue limits have increased, but if they can attend at different times of the day, more people will get to attend who want to. Setting up areas where the worship service can be live-streamed can help, and so can holding some events outdoors.
- Get creative with seating. Where and how people sit is one of the most important pieces of any experience. Consider one 6-foot table per person, or blocking off every other row and allowing space between the seats.
- Tips to limit exposure to too many people, ask your attendees who travel together to sit with, stay with or experience the event together. Perhaps one person per group is a designated point person who gathers materials or refills. Or maybe each person attends a different, concurring session and then everyone regroups later to summarize findings.
- Networking and mingling are a crucial part of meetings and events, so perhaps consider this approach, what one event planner calls “The Twister Approach.” Allow attendees to self-select a color corresponding to their comfort level for social distancing. “Red” guests are willing to interact with more people; “yellow” guests choose more caution. Use masks (or badges) to identify colors. This would create a tiered networking event giving those who choose limited exposure to network with like-minded attendees. Food areas could also be tailored this way.
These are just a few ways to keep your event safe. Here are some additional helpful links:
- How This Association Held a 300-Person Event – Safely – in June in Florida
- Considerations for Events and Gatherings
We are here for you and committed to working with you side-by-side, a ministry serving ministry. Please don’t hesitate to connect with us to talk through your event’s safety protocols. Click here for more information on how Ridgecrest is operating during this season.