Live events are still in flux. The Omicron Covid-19 variant has created additional uncertainty for trade shows and conferences in early 2022, but the majority have adjusted to remain open. Organizers have successfully taken extra measures to keep staff, attendees, exhibitors, and service providers as safe as possible. We’ve updated our safe event checklist to reflect some of the additional steps they’ve taken.
- Accreditation: Choose venues—convention centers and hotels—that have received certification from the Global BioRisk Advisory Council (GBAC). For venues that do not meet GBAC requirements or have not received certification, ensure they have high-quality air filtration and/or bacteria reduction systems.
- Ventilation: Even though your venue of choice features windows and doors that open to the outside, have a deeper discussion with them about air circulation, filtration, and purification.
- Outdoor space: Where weather permits, move breakouts, networking functions, and even wellness activities outside.
- Waste management: Ensure the venue has a protocol for the safe collection and disposal of rapid testing waste and used personal protective equipment (PPE).
Policies and Procedures
- Certification: Obtain GBAC certification for your show.
- Handwashing: Promote personal hygiene whenever and wherever you can with restroom and meeting room signage. Onsite LED displays can deliver public service announcements reinforcing the importance of handwashing and how to do it properly.
- Shoe disinfection: Place disinfectant mats at the entrance featuring raised edges to hold sanitizing solutions that help fight contamination that can lead to viruses and other illnesses.
- Social distancing: Disperse seating, increase aisle width, create one-directional traffic flow on the exhibit floor, and create multiple keynote address overflow rooms where attendees can spread out.
- Masks: Require participants to wear masks at all times (with the potential exception of lone speakers on stage at least 10 feet from others). Consider distributing branded N95 or KN95 masks instead of tote bags to attendees.
- Vaccination: While following the guidance of the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) and local authorities is crucial, more event organizers require that all participants be fully vaccinated. Whether that means boosted as well is still a point of discussion.
- Testing: Some groups still may not want to require proof of vaccination. Another option is to require proof of a negative Covid-19 test (within a particular window) or to perform rapid testing onsite before entry. More organizers (especially those with international participants) are increasing the range of onsite testing to include diagnostic lab tests in addition to rapid tests.
- Limit in-person attendance: Consider ways to make your event more exclusive and focus your attendee acquisition campaigns on specific groups (CEOs, buyers only, VIPs). Consider a hybrid extension for attendees that fall outside your target segment.
- Communal dining, breaks, buffets: Find ways to feed your participants that don’t involve congregating in small spaces. For example, distribute meals in individually wrapped packages and provide socially distanced seating areas.
- Networking: Make it easier to network at a distance by increasing the networking area, reducing the noise levels, and designing seating areas that keep networkers close enough but not too close.
- Self-badging: Allow participants to print their badges at home or at the office before arrival at the event to reduce congestion at check-in.
- Partnerships: Work with your partners, including your AV contractor, to help maintain health standards.
- Touchless devices: Choose from various touchless technologies to reduce contact with potentially infected surfaces.
- Sanitizer stations: Provide easy-to-access hand sanitizer dispensers in convenient locations.
- Smart badges: Use smart badges to notify attendees when they are standing too close.
- Temperature kiosks: Consider facial recognition and thermal scanning technology to help screen attendees before entering the event.
- Access control: Use scanners or sensors to track everyone going into a room if you have an outbreak and need to perform contact tracing.
- Crowd control: Use apps to identify potentially unhealthy clusters of people.
- Mobile apps: Send push notifications reminding users to wear masks, wash hands, and social distance; offer the latest health information and available resources at the event; and inform attendees daily that all surfaces have been disinfected.
- Chatbots: Deploy AI-based chatbots to help screen for Covid-19 symptoms.
- Facial recognition: Speed up check-in using facial recognition, which recognizes attendees and prints a badge as soon as they step in line, reducing the amount of potential Covid-19 transmission time.
- Vaccination verification apps: Make it easy for participants to verify their vaccination status and avoid entrance crowds. Safe Expo, CrowdPass, and HealthPass by Clear are three mobile applications that verify Covid vaccination status or test results before the event to expedite check-in.
- Public relations: Empower your PR team to use their skills and channels to inform participants of the steps you’re taking to help ensure their safety.
- Website: Create a landing page on the event website to post real-time updates on health and safety measures and health events during and after.
- Greeting preferences: Some organizers are issuing lapel pins or bracelets to help attendees signal to others how they prefer to be greeted and engaged. Different colors and designs indicate whether handshakes are OK, elbows are preferred, or no contact is desired.
- Covid concierge: Put someone in charge of answering attendee questions and handing out masks, hand sanitizer, and surface wipes.
- Security: Leave the task of checking vaccination status or policing mask-wearing to trained security professionals.
- Medical staff: While Covid alone shouldn’t require an abundance of onsite emergency personnel, consider a visible presence of medical professionals to offer attendees peace of mind and potentially offer vaccinations.
- Medical consultant: Contract with a qualified infectious disease professional to monitor CDC guidance, weigh in, and sign off on your event safety protocols.
A safe event delivers multiple benefits. It helps organizers meet duty-of-care obligations. It can also be the impetus for companies to relax Covid-related business travel restrictions or bans.
Decide which of the above measures is appropriate for your audience and your organization’s risk profile. Despite the persistence of variants, major events are staying open, and yours can too. Learn more about how SmartSource® can help.