The DCi team successfully executed over 120 live events in 2021 with more on the books in the near future. One of the keys to our success? Communication. We’re committed to ensuring that our clients and their attendees are safe and feel that their concerns have not only been heard, but have been expertly addressed. Presenting stakeholders with the information they need so they can feel confident in their event’s success is essential.
Properly vetting venues (from hotels to offsite attractions) has always been an important part of any planner’s job, but today’s concerns about health and safety have made it paramount. So, we’ve rounded up the four questions our team at DCi now asks before booking any event location, plus we’re breaking down the information we look for in any response.
When selecting a location for any event, keeping safety protocol top of mind helps everyone rest assured that in-person is back and here to stay.
What are the current COVID-19 trends in your region?
We all have the state and federal COVID-19 data websites bookmarked by now and, if you’re like us, you visit them frequently. While these sites do a great job of providing basic data about COVID-19 infection and hospitalization trends, they often don’t tell the whole story. Which is why our staff always asks for detailed information about the status of the pandemic in a venue’s city. Venue managers should have regular contact with the Department of Health and be able to offer specifics. Since they’re on the ground and embedded in their city’s culture, they can also help you understand the impact a spike in cases can have on vendors and supply chain in general. They’ve likely spent a lot of time troubleshooting these issues over the past year and a half, so tap into their expertise.
What are your sanitation protocols?
While this question may have raised eyebrows in the past, it’s now par for the course. DCi’s operations team always requests to review a venue’s entire gamut of health and safety protocols. We keep an eye out for assurances that the event space will be appropriately sanitized before, during, and after the event (this is especially important for multi-day programs!). All disinfection protocols should cover all surfaces (tables, doorknobs, light switches, countertops, etc.) and be cleaned according to CDC disinfection guidelines. The venue should always provide facilities where attendees can access hand washing stations or restrooms with soap and/or hand sanitizer containing at least 60% alcohol. Branded mini hand sanitizers also make great swag (just saying).
Can event attendees safely and effectively abide by local social distancing requirements?
While social distancing requirements have been largely loosened in recent months, they continue to vary state to state. This makes it even more vital to understand what those protocols are when deciding where to host your event. We request room configurations and diagrams to ensure that all attendees will be able to appropriately social distance throughout the program. DCi considers federal, state, and local guidelines on indoor capacity limits, as well as our client’s internal safety standards when investigating potential event locations. Our standard is to bring our own research to the table when vetting venues to ensure that safety measures are followed to a T.
Who are you going to call?
DCi’s operations team, in conjunction with any venue operations team, always has a plan laid out with local emergency services. The event’s operations team should always establish communication with a specific hospital or health center in case of an emergency (COVID-aside, this is crucial). Additionally, venues should ideally provide a location to isolate attendees or staff who show symptoms of COVID-19 until they can be evaluated by medical professionals.
Other Things to Consider
Let’s bring it back to communication for a minute. Even if all of the above boxes are checked, there are still things you can do when running your program to enhance safety and keep everyone informed. Here are a few of our go-to methods:
- Signage – Now it’s about so much more than identifying ballrooms. Use signage to outline social distancing requirements, mark hand washing/sanitizing stations, and reinforce messaging about COVID-19 symptoms and when to quarantine or seek medical attention.
- Staff – We always ask to see the venue’s exposure protocols. They should have rules in place for if a member of their staff exhibits signs of COVID and what steps are taken to minimize exposure amongst other staff members and guests.
- Be prepared for anything – In the event that a last-minute, virtual substitute is needed, the DCi team can seamlessly help you leverage virtual and hybrid event components. It’s crucial to always be prepared with a Plan B.