The coronavirus first appeared in China in December 2019 and has since migrated to Europe and the Middle East. The CDC released more information on February 25, 2020 and provided additional precautions travelers can take, but what can event organizers do to prepare?
As the Spring 2020 trade show and event season kicks into high gear, here are some preparations you may want to consider implementing at your event.
Create a communication plan to keep your attendees abreast of the latest health news. Provide helpful links in the event app and website to respected sources such as the Center for Disease Control and National Institute of Health. Consider checking with the local mayor or governor’s office as well for regional health updates and communicate those updates to attendees. Utilize all available communication channels to provide the latest news to your attendees.
Plan for Lower Attendance
Inevitably some registrants will decide not to attend your event just to be on the safe side. Maintain up-to-date counts of cancellations and be sure to reduce your food and beverage, space rentals and other reservations as needed to save money.
Create a Contingency Plan
Give your attendees another way to access the event, such as a virtual meeting. Live stream your event to virtual attendees who may be unable to travel due to travel restrictions or health issues. If you’re looking for virtual meeting solution, our freestone software enables live streaming and recording so you can reach virtual attendees across the globe.
Provide a way for registered attendees to cancel, but create a policy that allows you to retain a portion of the registration fee in exchange for giving them virtual access.
Help Attendees Protect Their Health
Whenever possible, help your attendees protect their health.
For instance, you can encourage attendees to greet each other without shaking hands. The Singapore Air Show did this in a tweet to attendees:
Advise attendees to use event app technology to exchange contact information instead of business cards. A good way to do this is to provide a tutorial during an opening session that shows attendees how to use the event app to make connections and get contact information.
Encourage exhibitors to use mobile app lead retrieval instead of physical devices that are shared and passed around.
Consider offering health supplies when possible and check with your local health authority for the most effective supplies for combating the virus. They might include:
- Bottles of hand sanitizer or hand sanitizer stations
- Disposable face masks
- Disposable rubber gloves
Help your attendees protect their health
Badges and signage can be used to allow attendees to make it known they wish to limit physical contact.
Review Your Event Cancellation Insurance
In the event you need to cancel your event, review your event insurance policy to ensure your losses will be covered in whole or in part. If you do decide to cancel, be sure to do so well in advance before attendees, speakers, exhibitors and service vendors begin traveling to your conference location.
Stay Positive, Avoid Being Hasty
The coronavirus is a rapidly changing worldwide situation and it’s important to avoid sensationalizing the news or jumping to a decision. Mark Cooper, CEO of IACC (International Association of Conference Centres) advised in a recent PCMA article to ...“wait another 10 days or two weeks before deciding whether to postpone or cancel your event (unless, of course, it is planned to take place in China in the very near term). This is the riskiest time to make such a decision, he said, and he expects that within the next few weeks “we will have a much clearer picture” about whether the virus has been contained and “will be able to make a more informed decision.”
*This article is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. The writer is not an expert in epidemiology or a healthcare professional.
The World Health Organization (WHO) and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) are monitoring the situation in real-time, and while much is still unknown about how the virus spreads, both organizations have issued guidance for preventing exposure to respiratory illnesses, as well as planning considerations for places of business.
It is our position that these organizations are the best resources for up-to-date, science-based information about the Coronavirus disease. We share links to some of this information below.
- Coronavirus Disease (COVID-19) Resources:
- World Health Organization : https://www.who.int/emergencies/diseases/novel-coronavirus-2019 - Find rolling updates on the virus, workplace readiness, basic protective measures, and press briefings.
- Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: https://www.cdc.gov/coronavirus/2019-ncov/index.html - Find information for businesses, interim guidance, and frequently asked questions about the virus.
About the Author
Jeff has a passion for Event Technology and working in the events industry. Jeff believes the future of events starts with emerging technologies that directly impact the attendee experience.