It’d be an understatement to say COVID-19 turned the world upside-down. For the event industry, there were three options: cancel, postpone, or go digital. Many canceled while many more went virtual. Now, as the world opens back up, we’re faced with another rather pressing problem—mitigating risk at events. It’s undeniable that the “normal” we’re going to face will be unlike the one we knew before.
Luckily for the event industry, we’re not new to crises. Instead, risk management is one of those things that’s been drummed into our heads from the very beginning. We’re pros at preparing for the unpredictable—assessing every aspect of the event for all possible risks, be it power failure, sponsor withdrawals, or even hurricanes. With COVID-19, we’re once more faced with new concerns, and it’s important to address these issues along with our regular list of potential risks if we want to get back to hosting events that everyone will love.
How can you manage risk at your events?
Risk management can be defined as the process of identifying potential risks and devising possible solutions to mitigate them. So the first step here is identifying the risk factors, both internal and external. There’s a sense of urgency we see today that wasn’t previously noticeable. As the world opens back up, people are in a quandary—they want to attend events and socialize while at the same time they’re afraid of the risks.
In this post, we’ll be discussing some of the more important factors that should be considered when determining your event’s risk management strategy.
Reboard your team safely
For some time now, your offices have likely been closed or operating with the bare minimum of people. As the world reopens and the demand for events increases, getting your team back to the workplace might be a little complicated. You’ve not only got to bring them up to speed about the latest situation at the office but also help them acclimate to their roles—it’s going to be almost like onboarding them again. There are quite a few risks attached to reboarding your team, and here we’ve mentioned a few ways you can mitigate the risk of COVID-19 when doing it.
Only bring in the people who actually need to be there. Others can continue working remotely.
Get your team to fill out a contact-tracing form
Ensure that you are compliant with government procedures
Set stricter protocols for cleaning and sanitization
Keep the communication lines open. Be open about the safety measures you’ve added and how the reboarding process will happen.
Give some thought to your employees’ mental health. COVID-19 has caused more than just physical problems. It’s been a stressful time for everyone, your employees included.
It’s important that you stay updated with the latest news about the virus. You should also prepare for emergencies that may occur when someone on your team falls ill. Your employees depend on you to keep them safe in the workplace. Their health and safety should thus be your foremost priority once you get to hosting events.
Refine your communication plan
Communication gaps in a critical situation can make everything 10 times worse. That’s why it’s important to have a good communication plan. Your team has to be regularly updated about everything—not just on the day of the event, but throughout the whole process, from start to finish. Risk management is about flexibility and agile thinking, and this means frequent changes in your response plan. You’ve also got to find a way to inform people about all these changes so they know how to fill in the blanks.
While previously it was enough to have a plan for how your team will communicate during a potential crisis, the arrival of COVID-19 means that plan has to include more preventative information and steps than before. Today it’s important to keep your team and everyone else updated about the virus and other important government regulations and protocols even before the event—this is in addition to emergency steps to take during the event. This way, they will have an idea of what to expect.
Consider technological risk
Remote working has significantly increased the risk of cybercrime. With more people working from home ISPs and VPNs, cybersecurity is a chief concern everywhere. These past months saw a marked increase in the number of phishing campaigns, malware, and espionage. Unfortunately, most companies weren’t prepared for it. Increasing the risk threshold of your technology is important to safeguard your company’s safety and reputation.
Events deal with an immense amount of personal data, and in the wrong hands, that could create havoc. So tech security must be a priority in the coming days. This might even be a good time to invest in a tech risk team that could be on the watch for cyber-attacks and help strengthen security.
Assess your venue
One of the biggest changes in our approach to in-person events in the future will be about the venues we choose. Some of the things we should consider for the future include:
Capacity: We need more space now for the same number of attendees. While before, a venue held 500 attendees, today it might be just enough for 250 to 300 attendees.
Breakout rooms: Even the discussion rooms have to take social distancing into consideration. You need more space for people to interact and so you can control the crowd.
Indoor vs outdoor: This is another consideration for event planners. Would an outdoor venue be safer? A lot of people seem to prefer being outdoors to staying indoors at events today. But hosting your event outside comes with its own set of complications (like the weather, for one thing) and you should plan your event will all of this in mind.
Restrictions: Every country and state comes with its own rules and restrictions. The venue you choose should be compliant with these regulations.