Summer Is Ending, Now What? 6 Planning Tips for Fall Events
Now that we are in the month of September, the realization hits that we’re two-thirds of the way through the year.
In any other year, the changing season means gearing up for the busy holiday season. However, it’s also an opportune time to revisit new year plans to determine what is left to accomplish this year and begin planning for 2022.
With the Delta variant creating uncertainty around event plans once again, here are six planning moves to make to prepare you and your business for the rest of the year and whatever may come in 2022.
- Stay Up-to-Date With the Latest Guidelines and Data Trends
It’s no easy task to stay on top of the changing guidelines and restrictions these days, especially when different protocols are in place in cities, counties, states, and countries.
As fall events come into view, it’s essential to stay up-to-date with local and state guidelines that are in place where and when the event is taking place.
With guidelines changing again because of the Delta variant, here are a handful of resources to browse to stay current. (This is by no means a comprehensive list; please consult with local and state departments for the most up-to-date information for your specific event.)
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Event Planning and COVID-19
This Q&A provides helpful information, including whether organizers can require vaccination to attend to testing and screening for COVID-19.
- The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention: Guidance for Small Gatherings and Organizing Large Events
Both of these resources include tips for cleaning, disinfection, ventilation, room layouts, and more.
- Canada: Reducing COVID-19 Risk in Community Settings
A list of individual and community-based measures to reduce the spread of COVID-19 in Canada.
- United Kingdom: COVID-19 Guidance for Mass Gatherings
Guidelines from the U.K. to create safer environments.
- International Association for Venue Managers (IAVM): Public Assembly Facilities Recovery Guide
Written guidance to help venues make reasonable decisions for the health and safety of all venue occupants.
- COVID-19 Event Risk Assessment Planning Tool
An interactive map showing the risk level of attending an event, given the event size and location.
- COVID-19 Indoor Safety Guideline
A theoretical model to calculate safe exposure times and occupancy levels for indoor spaces.
- John Hopkins COVID-19 World Map of Cases
Robust data and visualizations, updated daily.
- Prepare for All Possible Event Outcomes
In addition to the resources above, there are plenty of case studies, checklists, templates, interviews, and more about pandemic events. Reading these provides helpful insights into how other event peers and venues are moving ahead with safety in mind and different areas or touchpoints to reconsider through a socially distanced and COVID-safety lens.
With the rise of cases and hospitalizations putting event cancellations and reschedules back on the calendars again, fall event planning should include multiple scenarios:
- In-person with safety measures and adjusted expectations to account for those who are unable or don’t feel comfortable attending
- Feasibility for delivering a hybrid event, with experiences, content, and engagement designed for each audience
- Pivoting from in-person to virtual (and the timeframe to decide to do so) – with engagement and delivery options to overcome virtual fatigue
- Criteria or decision-points to cancel entirely, and the backup plans to achieve business objectives and engage the community
- Create a Duty of Care Statement
As noted by Meetings Professional International, “When it comes to duty of care, for the human- and experience-centric meeting and event industry, it’s all-hands-on-deck. The COVID-19 pandemic has heightened the need to have health and safety protocols visible and known to all guests, prior to their arrival, during their event and post-event.”
For event planners and organizers, it’s important to set clear expectations around what your event is doing – and what you expect attendees to abide by – to maintain a safe environment for all. For example, if all guests will be required to wear masks regardless of vaccine status, or if proof of vaccine or a negative PCR test is required to enter, clearly spell that out for attendees.
But it doesn’t stop with creating the statement. It’s just as, if not more, critical to communicate any health or safety policies with attendees before and throughout the event. At the same time, don’t forget to include what happens in non-compliance situations. Let guests and event staff know what to expect if the duty of care guidelines aren’t followed.
- Set or Keep Up with Self-Care
You’ve heard the stats: event planning is one of the most stressful careers. Tons of tasks to juggle, not enough time to do them, last-minute changes, keeping clients happy, and more keeps the stress high even in typical times. Add in the uncertainty of living through a pandemic, and stress skyrockets.
Self-care is a year-round priority to maintain wellbeing and mental health – and becomes even more critical as the hectic fall and holiday season begins. Try these ideas to kick-start or stick to your self-care routine:
- Set a sleep schedule – including omitting screen time before bed
- Get up and moving throughout the day, even if it’s a quick walk or mini-stretch break
- Download a podcast or app to boost your mood or for extra motivation
- Take an exercise or meditation break
- Set limits, such as turning off notifications early in the morning or after hours
- Find time for inspiration by taking in new experiences, exploring a new nature hike, or doing any other creative activities to recharge your battery
- Do a Finance Check-In
With event plans that may change on a dime, do a fall finance check-in to make sure you have a healthy cash flow to cover payroll, rent, deposits, supply purchases, and other key business costs.
- Review your cash flow forecast, including current cash position, how much cash is needed to pay yourself and your team, and anticipated expenses and revenue
- Check-in on past due invoices to reduce receivables
- Invest in new ways for customers to pay – like direct online payments
- Put any unused expenses on pause
- Negotiate more favorable terms with vendors and suppliers
- Remember the “Infinite Game”
You might have heard of Simon Sinek from his wildly popular TED Talk on the concept of “why,” which has over 40 million views. He has also written “The Infinite Game,” where he explores that in situations like business, it is a game with unknown players, changing objectives and rules, and no end in sight.
According to Sinek, business leaders should stop thinking about “winning” and start instead thinking about building and sustaining strong and healthy organizations. “Leaders who embrace an infinite mindset build stronger, more innovative, more inspiring organizations. Their people trust each other and their leaders. They have the resilience to thrive in an ever-changing world while their competitors fall by the wayside. Ultimately, they are the ones who lead the rest of us into the future.”
Sinek explains the five essential practices for leaders who want to adopt an infinite mindset – something especially applicable for event professionals in the current COVID climate:
- Advance a Just Cause
- Build Trusting Teams
- Study their Worthy Rivals
- Prepare for Existential Flexibility
- Demonstrate the Courage to Lead
In the last stretch of the year, take the time to review current guidelines, prepare for alternate outcomes, set a duty of care, practice self-care, and do a finance check-in. But, most importantly, understand that adopting an infinite mindset can lead to building better organizations to weather whatever happens next.