Communicating COVID-19 requirements for your event
Oct. 27, 2021
The requirements around capacities, vaccines, and testing are updated on a regular basis by governments, health units, and even the organizations holding events. As a planner, when your government, health unit, employer, and venue all have health and safety mandates that need to be followed, it’s easy to feel confused about what you and your guests need to know.
Don’t let information overload discourage you from crafting clear communications for your event. Here’s what you need to do!
What you need from your venue
In recent memory, it has never been harder to be a venue than it is right now. They are trying to find the balance of following all of the restrictions set out by the government, keeping their guests safe, and trying not to make things too confusing for their clients. It can be stressful, as a planner, to even begin thinking about securing a venue right now when things can change so quickly.
- Ask your venue to provide the full list of requirements they are mandated to follow. This includes guidelines created by the government, their local health units, and any business-specific policies they may have enacted (e.g., if you’re in a region where masks are no longer mandatory, but your venue may have decided to still have them). Never assume you know all the rules a venue has to follow. Let them tell you what they need you to do.
- During your venue search process, be honest and transparent about your needs. If you need to have 100 people in a room and with current capacity limits they can only hold 50, tell them that. Don’t assume that capacities will change by the time your event rolls around.
- When you go to sign your contract, make sure there is language surrounding COVID-19 and how your venue will handle changes in requirements, and make sure that they are outcomes you can live with. You don’t need to sign something you don’t agree with. You can ask to negotiate where possible, or look at other venues.
- Leave open channels of communication with your venue. If you have heard that requirements are changing but haven’t heard anything from your venue, don’t be afraid to touch base with them.
What your guests need from you
All the preparations you’ve made with your venue lead up to one of the most crucial parts of event planning: communicating with your guests. Even before a global pandemic, communications were essential in improving your guests’ experience. Now they are more important than ever!
- Your guests are relying on you to tell them exactly what they need to do to access your event and stay safe while attending. They need to know about vaccines, testing, masks, and distancing, and how your event will handle each of those concerns. Provide information as early as possible – even before your guests have registered – to let them decide whether they want to attend in the first place.
- You’ve done so much work collecting information from your venue about their requirements and it can be tempting to explain them in-depth to your guests. Don’t. Explain your venue’s requirements in the simplest terms. If possible, make it no more than one-page with bullet points. If your venue provided you with supporting documents from their website, include the link so your guests can read through them if they choose. Overloading your guests with information right up front is a great way to ensure that they do not read any of it.
- If your venue’s requirements change, make sure to tell your guests. Have policies in place from the beginning that outline what will happen if rules change. Will guests be given a refund if the changes make them comfortable attending? Will your event cover the costs of testing if suddenly your guests will require one to participate? Make sure you and your guests know all of this going into it.
- And of course, plan for the inevitability that some guests will not read your communications and arrive unprepared. Have people on hand, either from your team or from the venue, to assist in situations such as someone not having a smartphone for an app your event might use for screening. Have masks available if someone didn’t bring their own. Your guests will appreciate the help, and you’ll thank yourself for being so prepared.
The ever-changing landscape of events can be intimidating, but don’t get discouraged! Communicating with your venue and guests is the first and best step to ensuring a successful event, no matter what the world throws your way.
We can’t wait to get back to hosting events on campus when it is safe to do so. Until then, happy planning!