The Covid-19 pandemic has had a massive impact on the events industry. Events have either been postponed or cancelled, which has had a hugely damaging effect on companies involved within the sector, worth approximately £32.6 billion to the UK economy each year.
In these uncertain times, the events business, as with many other industries, is having to think differently in order to survive and guarantee the safety and reassurance of delegates and clients.
Although it is now unlikely that most events and conferences will take place until 2021, event organisers and venues are still working hard behind the scenes to ensure new systems and technologies are in place once they get the green light.
Investing now in new digital approaches and contactless technologies could shape how events are hosted in the future for the better.
Here are 4 ways business events have changed in response to Covid-19 and how events at the 3M Buckley Innovation Centre (3M BIC) will look as we re-open our meeting spaces:
1/ Social distancing
It is without a doubt that events will need to conform with social distancing guidelines. Many event organisers and venues have introduced one-way systems and contactless registration technologies, as well as limiting the number of delegates.
At the 3M BIC, we have one-way systems in place in all our meeting spaces and have introduced staggered entry to reduce queuing. We ask those who book meeting spaces with us to carefully manage the arrival of their attendees. Each individual chair will be spaced at least 2 metres away from the nearest, which means overall capacity will be limited. Face coverings are now mandatory, unless exempt, in all our public spaces to offer reassurance to visitors, staff and tenants.
Events have become paperless, using digital technologies for delegate information and booking. Check-in using the NHS Test and Trace app will become routine.
2/ Virtual v face to face
Virtual events and networking have become the norm for many, from webinars to live streaming. As the sector contends with limited numbers and strict social distancing guidelines, it is clear that virtual events will play a major part in future events, even beyond the pandemic. It’s unlikely they’ll completely take over face to face events but event organisers will need to adapt and learn how to deliver virtual gatherings effectively using a range of technologies.
We will need to think creatively and develop engaging content to attract people to a different format, in what is likely to become an increasingly competitive market.
At the 3M BIC, we are currently adapting our events calendar, planning how we can host events both virtually and face to face, as well as developing useful and interesting event content. As anchor members of the West Yorkshire Innovation Network, we will be developing innovation-themed events in new formats – watch this space for 2021!
3/ Food and drink
How you serve food and drink at an event will have to change. The days of finger food and self-service will be a thing of the past. Event organisers will need to think how events are catered for to reduce food contamination and introduce social distancing procedures, such as one-way systems, limiting numbers within food areas and having convenient hand cleaning facilities.
At the 3M BIC, we are working with our regular customers and catering suppliers to review catering packages and procedures.
Extra hygiene measures will play an increasingly important and visible part of events and will continue well into 2021 and beyond. Many venues will have invested in hand sanitiser dispensers and are promoting regular hand washing, so it’s likely that these measures will remain in the long-term. It is vital that event organisers adhere to the guidelines to ensure the safety of all delegates and staff.
At the 3M BIC, all our meeting spaces and public areas have enhanced cleaning procedures, particularly for high touch points, with hand washing and sanitising facilities positioned at regular intervals.