Don’t Just Cancel Your Event – Take Other Actions
I was just giddy this past Tuesday about businesses reopening again – on the first possible day to use the businesses in my area. I had a hair appointment and went to a restaurant with my family. It made my day to do this. My mindset is that it is time to venture out if it is done in a safe manner plus, I want to support the local businesses that have been hurt by being closed. I know there are a wide range of different mindsets, a lot of uncertainty still and anxiety of what the future will bring. I am not saying there is any right way of thinking. This is my opinion and I respect varying opinions of others.
I do have to say that I am disappointed every single time that some large event, festival or concert announces that they are canceling – even though many were not to planned to take place until late summer and fall. Some of these events are for very worthy charities. Many people and businesses livelihoods depend on these events. And just think how many people are disappointed not to be able to attend? Being in the event industry myself, knowing that things can be done differently, I must wonder if the person making the decision just took the easy way out by cancelling.
I know it will be both different and difficult, but there are other actions that can be taken. I just heard Disney and Sea World are reopening! If they can open safely, anyone can have an event. I do know some event decision makers have chosen for their events to go forward. I feel these decision makers do not want to disappoint their audiences and understand the impact their event has on those that are involved. These people all seem to have special characteristics. They are leaders. They are open to change and are willing to do things differently. They know that they will have to work extra hard to make people feel safe along with taking on extra risk. Most will have contingency plans in place that if something unexpected happens that they have yet another plan in place. These are people that can make things happen. They have decided that all of this is worth it to have the event. I really feel we need more of this type of thinking to move forward from where we are now.
Here are some things to think about if you are deciding whether or not to move forward with an event.
Can the date be moved? The farther out in time an event is planned gives you more time to do the additional work and planning required to set it up to follow the guidelines to keep people safe. It is also more likely that we will have more information as time goes on and people will be more acclimated to going out and attending events.
Can the location be moved – city and/or venue? Sometimes if you change the date, your original place and venue may no longer be available so you may need to find a new location. Also, different geographical locations that have been affected differently. You may want to move the event to a less affected area. There are also different guidelines based on location that may make the event easier to set up and run.
Can you get a larger space? A lot of guidelines call for having only 6 people at a table and all tables need to be at least 6 feet apart. A larger room may be needed to do the required spacing and seating needed. Having more space also just gives a general feel of being safer since it will be easier to keep the social distancing.
If it is a large event, can it be done smaller and/or have multiple smaller events? It is a lot of work to control large groups of people, especially with the guidelines that need to be followed. Check to see if it makes sense to change the format of the event to a smaller version of the original event. It is better to make some people happy than none. Even better, one large event could be broken down into multiple smaller events to make it easier to set up and control.
Could an online event or hybrid (online + in person) event work in its place or as part of the event? If an in-person event just cannot be done for any of multiple reasons, could the event be changed to an online event? In the short time that we have been in a stay at home situation, online events are becoming more and more common and improving in quality. There is even the benefit that location does not matter. In the future most likely there will be hybrid events. Part in person and part online. If a speaker or other entertainment of your choosing cannot be in person at an event, they could show up virtually. If there is a large group gathering this could be done online and then arrange for smaller breakout groups events in person.
Could you creatively work the needed safety measures in with the event theme and décor? I know right now we are all going through readjustment of what is required to be considered safe. It is new. However, in following these guidelines remember that you still need to create the right ambiance and give your audience the right experience. Yellow “Do Not Cross” police tape is not the way to go to have your attendees feel comfortable. (I have seen this in too many places already!) I have been delighted with some others that are putting very creative measures in place to mark off space that bring humor or added décor to their space. Branded hand sanitizer and fun masks that fit the event can be keepsakes and keep the event top of mind long after the event is over.
I am hoping that as we do move forward, and we will, that there are more people willing to keep their events and be willing to put forth the effort and work to do them in a different way that is safe. It truly could be a competitive advantage to have an event with so many cancelling and more people getting fatigued by staying at home. Let me know if I can help in any way.