Live Events During & After Covid-19

Covid-19 is bound to bring some new (and recycled) trends for live events. In case you’ve missed these posts on our social media pages, here are some predictions and pieces of advice for in-person events.
Communicating Safety Protocols
This one is huge, in my opinion. As you start to plan for live events, be sure to communicate your safety protocols! Whether it’s related to a global pandemic or not, people like to know what to expect. You can never give too much information about what to expect, and this is something that is more necessary than ever now. Be sure to tell people what you will expect and enforce. Do they need to wear a mask? Will social distancing be enforced? How many people will be attending? Will you be following all CDC guidelines? Do not underestimate the importance of communication, ever. In order for people to feel comfortable attending a live event, they are going to need to know what to expect.

Shorter Timeframe
Once live events start again, I predict that they will have shorter timeframes. This will especially be the case with workshops and conferences. The CDC has a list of recommendations for events, and they are currently recommending that anytime there is a group of people together inside that the time period is as short as possible. As you move forward with your event planning, consider ways that you can make your events more time efficient, or ways to break up the event so everyone isn’t in an enclosed space for as long.

Covid Liability Waiver
This is an interesting one— have you seen Covid liability wording being added to event waivers? This is obviously something you should check on with your lawyer. I recently saw an event (live event outside with social distancing, masks, etc.) advertised and before you purchased tickets you had to agree that if you got sick you would not hold the organizer, sponsors, etc. liable. Have you seen this yet? Is this something you think that we will continue to see for awhile, related to live events?

Local or Satellite
When live events start again, they will start local and/ or satellite. People may not feel comfortable traveling to other countries or even states, so the trend will be events within driving distance, whether they are live or satellite versions of a larger conference. There is likely less risk involved here, rather than groups of people from different areas of the country or world getting together and potentially sharing the virus. If you’re trying to think of a way to get your conference to a large group of people from different regions, consider adding one or multiple local satellite events in addition to the primary live event.

Pre-Event Questionnaire
You may want to consider a pre-event questionnaire for your next event. Ask your venue if they require any additional information from attendees, as they may have new policies in place. For example, “Have you traveled out of state in the past two weeks?” Always be sure to have contact information for attendees in case of event cancellations or postponements, or in case someone from your event gets sick and you need to notify people.

Individual Servings
To reduce the amount of times different people have to touch the same thing, individual servings will start to become the norm. Rather than buffet style where everyone serves themselves (by touching the same serving spoons), consider plated meals instead. If you’re serving appetizers, single servings are best. Keep this in mind when you’re budgeting for catering, as these adjustments may increase your costs. Don’t hesitate to ask your caterer for ideas, as they likely have creative serving and menu suggestions.

Auction Basket Themes

This is by no means an exclusive list, but it’s a helpful start. Consider sharing this list with your volunteer committee so that they have some ideas to use when they solicit donations of auction baskets.

  • Chocolate Lover!
  • Pizza Party: pasta, strainer, sauces, pizza ingredients, pizza pan
  • Fiesta: package everything in a pretty bowl. salsa, tortilla chips, lime juicer, margarita mix and glasses
  • Ice Cream Social: ice cream toppings, scooper, cones, brownie mix, candies
  • Coffee Enthusiast: k-cups, coffee mug, syrups, Starbucks gift card
  • BBQ Deliciousness: variety of marinades, skewer sticks, sauces, spices, rubs, grilling tools, gift card to meat market
  • Gardening Gift: package it all in a flower pot. seeds, herbs, little shovel, garden markers, wind chimes
  • Happy Hunter: hand warmers, beef jerky, orange hat, wool socks, Bass Pro Shop gift card
  • Try Your Luck: Lottery tickets
  • Eat Local: small gift cards to local restaurants or chain restaurants
  • Tee Time: bucket full of golf balls, golf tees, club cover, golf umbrella
  • Summer Sun: sunscreen, frisbees, bubbles, sidewalk chalk, slip n slide, squirt guns, plastic sunglasses
  • Pool Party: package everything in a beach bag. rafts, blow up toys, beach towels
  • Tailgate: package everything in a cooler. drink coozies, snacks, paper plates, foam fingers, yard games
  • Camping Kit: s’mores ingredients, s’mores sticks, folding chairs, bug spray
  • Dog Lover: dog bones, treats, toys, gift certificate to groomer
  • It’s a Wrap: wrapping paper, tissue paper, gift bags for different holidays
  • Party Time: pick a color theme or two and get paper plates, napkins, plastic cups, straws, streamers, toothpicks, plastic silverware
  • Picnic Basket: package in a basket with a handle. plastic wine glasses, picnic blanket, gourmet snacks
  • Spa Day: gift card to a local spa, lotions, bath salts, facial masks
  • Athletic Accessories: gummy bears, sports drinks, protein bars, foam roller, water bottle, headband, compression socks, massage gift card

Calendar Change for August 2020

On my calendar for this weekend it says Moraine State Park Regatta. 2020 marks the 50th anniversary of Moraine State Park and we were to be celebrating all weekend. In addition to the traditional live music, fireworks, sailing races, food vendors, butterfly release, car cruise, kids’ activities, educational opportunities, kayak and SUP tutorials and free rentals, etc., we were adding multiple signature events this year. Overall we planned to have 13 signature events within the regatta. Last year’s event had 25,000 attendees and we were planning for even more this year.

Moraine State Park Regatta crowd 2019
📸: Al Marschke, BluMars Media

When I woke up with the sunrise this morning, I remembered the sunrise at Lake Arthur. We would have been there getting ready around this time. We would have been going over last minute details, coordinating with volunteers, directing traffic for the morning races, getting the final food vendors set up, etc.

A few months ago, the Board of Directors for the regatta made the very difficult decision to cancel this year’s event. Our sponsors had been hit too hard with the economic realities of the pandemic, and we weren’t sure what August was going to bring as far as vaccines, government regulations, health concerns, etc. This 2019 photo might make you squeamish because no one is wearing a mask and everyone is standing close together. I get that, but to be honest it mostly makes me sad because I really miss live events and large gatherings!

I am so grateful for clients like Moraine State Park Regatta who make me miss my work. I’m looking forward to 2021 when, Lord willing, we’ll be able to celebrate 50+1 years of Moraine State Park! Until then, I’ll enjoy sunrises at home and smaller gatherings with family.

Creative Virtual Events

As a result of Covid-19, virtual events have become exponentially more popular than ever before. Now that many areas in PA are moving into the green phase, we can expect to see small in-person events again. Even so, my prediction is that we will continue to see virtual events thrive, or even events that are a combination of in-person and virtual for quite some time. 

Here are some things to consider when planning a virtual event:

Fun 

Tired of the same old Zoom events? So is everyone else. Put some thought into how you can make your virtual event more fun. Can you add a game like Pictionary or trivia to break the ice? If a quick game isn’t a fit, then what about a contest for the most creative Zoom background? Even something small will show your attendees that you are making an effort to liven things up a bit. 

Networking

One of the biggest reasons that people attend events is to meet other people. How can you incorporate networking into your next virtual event? Can you ask everyone to drop their contact information into the chat, or use breakout rooms so that people can virtually meet each other? Maybe you can create a Facebook group where people can continue the conversations later.

Physical

Especially if they’re not used to being in front of a computer all the time for virtual meetings, your attendees will appreciate a little movement in the event. Try to incorporate a yoga class or a guided stretch break in between sessions.

Swag

Many in-person events offer some sort of swag. Why can’t virtual events do the same? Collect the mailing addresses of your attendees as they register and make it clear that you will be sending them something for the event, so you don’t send something to an office when they are working from home. Mail out the ingredients for a themed cocktail, a branded hand sanitizer, or even a t-shirt for your virtual race. The ideas are endless, and there are plenty of local small businesses that can help with these swag items and packaging. Mailing something like this will show your attendees that you value them, it will make your event stand out from other virtual events, and it might help to encourage social media conversations.

Sponsorship

Just because your event isn’t in-person, doesn’t mean that sponsors won’t be interested. Virtual events tend to cost less than in-person events, but analytics and data collection can be more seamless, as well. Sponsors can be recognized not just on slides between presenters, but in pre and post event emails, in the event’s social media presence, or with branded items mailed to attendees. As with in-person event sponsorship, sponsors should be able to tailor their collateral to their goals and needs. 

Wondering what in-person events will look like moving forward? Check out Appleseed’s Facebook and LinkedIn pages where I’ll be showcasing some ideas and considerations for the future of in-person events.