The business events industry is working to figure out when it can get back to business, but when meetings and trade shows can happen again, what will event designers need to do to make sure that staff members, attendees, and exhibitors are safe? To help create an experience that makes health and hygiene paramount, Freeman has published a downloadable resource, “The New Normal: Considerations for Business Events in a Post-COVID 19 World,” the result of the collaborative efforts of a range of experts from across the company.
The new normal is about more than reducing germs; it’s also about reducing fears. The resource document points out how to adjust pre-show communications to make sure that prospective participants feel secure. Remember the focus on promoting that tens of thousands of people would be gathering in one place? That will no longer work.
“Avoid statistics touting the overall size of an event,” Freeman advises. “These are how show organizers measure their own success, not how an attendee measures the quality of their experience. These statistics can exacerbate fears about business gatherings and set unrealistic expectations for your audience.”
In addition to marketing, the resource PDF offers insights on logistics, networking, sponsorship, and show-floor considerations, among other areas, and breaks things down for planners. For example, if you’re wondering how to rethink room capacity with the six-foot-separation rule, Freeman offers this formula: 6 feet (2 meters) of physical distance between individuals calculates to a 36-square-foot (4 square meters per person) square or 28.3-square-foot circle per person. Both calculations maintain 6 feet between individuals. The 28.3-square-foot circle calculation accounts for a more efficient use of the space.
Regardless of efficiencies, the on-site trade-show floor will look different. One-way aisles, new furniture layouts (think individual seating rather than couches), digital business card exchanges, and scheduled tours of the show floor are among the ways restrictions can be accommodated.
All of these changes are certainly a departure from the way face-to-face events have been conducted in the past, but Freeman’s team believes that the meaningful sense of community that serves as the events industry’s foundation will remain: “Connecting with someone doesn’t always require proximity. And even if we’re physically distant, we can still feel closer than ever.”
Organizers are not alone in their focus on cleanliness. Here is how venues are implementing new hygiene protocols to address COVID-19.
David McMillin is an associate editor at Convene.