How to Manage Attendee Anxiety and Boost Their Confidence in the New Normal
By Rae Oliver, TSNN.com
Despite uncertainty from planners in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the first few months of 2021 have shown that people are eager to attend events again. But it’s up to organizers to keep them safe and make them feel comfortable. In March 2021, some governments began to ease restrictions on social gatherings in various states and cities. The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) also issued updated guidelines, with many updates being especially relevant to organizers of large events.
If you’re involved in trade shows, expos or any event that requires attendees, consider implementing these strategies. They will go a long way in easing the concerns we all face and reminding attendees that the light at the end of the tunnel is in sight.
Limit The Numbers
One of the conditions of eased regulations is attendee numbers must be limited. The maximum number of attendees allowed in indoor and outdoor event spaces varies from state to state and depends on the venue’s capacity.
For example, Massachusetts’ Safety and Standards Checklist: Indoor and Outdoor Events limits the number of attendees for an indoor event to 100 people and 150 people at an outdoor event. Make sure you know what the limits are, ensure they are adhered to and let your guests know that this is happening for their safety.
Provide Proof Of Disinfection
Consider hiring an organization that focuses on the disinfection of arenas and conference halls. These companies use electrostatic disinfecting machines, which sterilize large spaces in a short amount of little time. By employing a professional cleaning company and sharing this information with your attendees, they can feel confident that the venue has been suitably sterilized.
Although the idea of screening attendees’ body temperatures at events was seen as a wild concept a short while ago, it’s since become the norm. Thermal imaging technology has become widely used and will demonstrate to your guests that there is a focus on health regulations. Additionally, you can publicize the fact that all staff are screened.
Keep Areas Visibly Clean
Wherever possible, make the sanitization process of frequently touches surfaces public, allowing attendees to see that areas being kept as clean as possible. Place several hand sanitizing stations around the event space, including sanitizer that’s at least 60% alcohol and no-touch trash cans. Seeing everything from door handles to speaker microphones being wiped down will go a long way towards minimizing fear.
Promote Social Distancing
Clearly outline your social distancing policy and remind guests of it at all times. Block off sections or rows of seats so that people are spaced adequately far apart and eliminate lines completely. Use visual cues like chalk marks or tape to help people maintain the proper distance from one another. If possible, limit how many people can occupy the restroom at a time, allowing for social distancing.
Limit the number of attendants and your seating plan to allow for social distances and consider hosting smaller events in bigger rooms. Make sure there are multiple exits and entrances to reduce the potential for crowding.
Keep activities outdoors as far as is possible and make online attendance an option if you can. This, combined with showing up in-person, is a fantastic way to reduce the possibility of infection.
Kit Staff Out With PPE
By ensuring all staff wear masks, guests will feel better protected. Even those not serving food or drink should cover their nose and mouth, especially if they come into contact with attendees.
If suitable, you can enforce a no-mask, no-entry rule for guests, too, but this is discretionary and will depend on the nature of the event.
Ventilate The Space
Most people didn’t enjoy stuffy, closed spaces before the pandemic, but it has given them a whole new appreciation for proper ventilation. Before the event starts, ensure that ventilation systems work properly, and check that as much outdoor air is circulating as possible.
If you’re managing an outdoor event or expo that uses tents, you should still pay attention to ventilation. Open-sided/open-air tents aren’t too much of a problem, but enclosed tents (those with side walls or panels) won’t have as much air circulation. Get around that issue by leaving one or more sides open, or by rolling the side panels several inches above the ground, if possible.
The Future is Bright
COVID-19 has become a major concern for the hospitality and events industry, but it’s important for organizers to remember that things are looking up for the events industry! As we begin to host events again, attendees are likely to be nervous, especially if they have not been surrounded by people for a long time. The above tips can go a long way in alleviating their fears and making them feel more relaxed and comfortable in a post-COVID-19 world.