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Everyone thought the pandemic would end once vaccines became available. But variants of the COVID-19 virus still have the power to disrupt in-person events. If you’re organizing an event with an in-person component, it’s essential to address your participants’ anxiety so they feel comfortable attending. Here are four things you can do to put attendees at ease. 

Step 1: Partner with your venue and vendors to manage and mitigate risk

Your venue and vendor partners spent much of the pandemic trying to figure out how to bring in-person meetings back safely, so let them take the lead and share with you tools they may have developed, like the MeetSAFE guidelines by Encore. Walk through all the event touchpoints and mitigate any of the transmission risks you can identify. Co-create a safety policy for event staff and anyone else who might encounter your event participants with your venue and vendor partners. Document your plan and secure commitments from all your suppliers, exhibitors and sponsors to follow the safety policy. 

Graph of Encore's MeetSAFE program
Step 2: Address the elephant in the room

The worst thing you can do is pretend that the pandemic is over or fail to mention precautions you’re taking to mitigate risk. With stories about Covid-19 in the news daily, this will only make participants worry that you’re in denial or doubt that you’re creating the right environment for social interaction in an in-person meeting or hybrid event. Instead, be upfront about your policy on vaccination and masking, and communicate what you and the venue are doing to minimize the chance of participants getting sick and how they can return safely to events. Add a clause in the registration that requires people to acknowledge and commit to following your event’s safety protocols and policy.

Step 3: Communicate, communicate, communicate

The safety and wellbeing of your participants should be front and center everywhere: in marketing emails, social media updates, in a prominent area of your website, blogs, etc. This is one area in which you can’t overcommunicate. Also look for good news and data to share, such as these recent figures from the CDC, which show that the latest surge is ending. If you need inspiration, follow #WeMetThere to find stories of how your peers are implementing safety protocols in order to bring in-person meetings back or use these talking points. 

Graph of CDC COVID-19 Trends
How to Return To Hybrid and In-Person Events Safely and Ease Attendees Concerns
Step 4: Help them travel safer

Knowing that your event has the proper protocols in place may not be enough. Your participants still have to travel to get to the event. So, if you have tips on getting through the airport or news about how the ground transportation will take care of them, share them. Consider eliminating onsite registration booths and sending any event materials they need (name badges and lanyards, programs, etc.) digitally or via post before they travel. Many event organizers are selling sponsors on branding personal protective equipment like masks, hand sanitizer and face shields that can be put in these pre-event “care packages.” 

Do you have any other tips? Let us know. 
Donna Hubley


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