On Monday, 20th July 2020, Events Together in conjunction with PSP hosted Back To The “Events” Future to demonstrate their commitment to delivering events in a responsible, safe manner. It was a live webinar aimed at those in the events industry, and those who regularly attend events as part of their work. The aim of the free webinar was to showcase how Professional Events Organisers and venues are preparing for a new and safe way of holding events in a post Covid-19 world, alongside helping organisations kick-start their return to live events from the 1st October. Attendees came from a wide variety of sectors to learn about how events may change, but still be kept safe for everyone involved.
About Back To The “Events” Future
The webinar involved short talks from a wide variety of industry experts on various different topics surrounding events in a post Covid-19 world. They included a leading psychologist, a representative from an events venue, and more! Furthermore, the event was introduced and hosted by Meena Chander, founder and director of Events Together, an Event Management Consultancy based in Milton Keynes, who has over 20 years of global event management experience. She spoke about how the event’s purpose was to instill confidence in event organisers, and show what event professionals are doing to keep attendees safe. Find out more about the event and the talks below:
Dr Kate Goodger
Dr Kate Goodger is the director and founder of Chocolami Ltd, a Chartered Psychologist and People and Change Solutions specialist, with a genuine excitement for supporting growth and transformation in people and organisations. She spoke to the attendees about the psychology of the ‘new normal,’ and how we shift our mindsets towards this.
As a Performance Psychologist for athletes, Dr. Kate is a specialist helping athletes develop a specific set of skills. And, a lot of this is all about mindset! So many industries have been forced to change due to the pandemic, but our minds don’t always make this easy for us. Dr. Kate gave the audience a brief introduction to this idea, and how changing our mindsets and making the most of opportunities and new ways of thinking can help ease us into change that we don’t expect, such as will happen when live events return to our calendars.
For example, she mentions how our brains have an incredible ability to adapt change- but it’s not always easy! On the whole, the audience agreed that it is difficult to stick to changes such as New Year’s Resolutions. This is due to two systems operating in our brains, one based on logic and one on emotions that is primarily hardwired for survival. As a result, the idea of changes, such as those that will happen in the events space, can feel uncomfortable. Dr. Kate’s talk was definitely interesting and gave the attendees a lot to think about when it comes to their brains!
Rob is an Chartered Health and Safety Advisor and Event Production and Safety Manager from Event Safety Plan. His talk for Back To The “Events” Future was all about health and safety! He suggested that the ‘new normal’ and ways of working that will come from this will mean event organisers, venues, and others involved must work in partnership in order to make sure events still work for everyone involved.
Risk assessment should always be a fundamental part of every business activity that takes place surrounding events. But now, a risk assessment that specifically relates to Covid-19 is key. Rob put forward some suggestions for best practice when it comes to these assessments and how to start preparing for them in advance, before a return to live events in October.
Beyond risk assessments, event organisers need to get ready now. This involves communicating with and assuring everyone involved (but particularly delegates) about what is happening and how the event is made safe. But, it also includes getting support when needed from schemes such as those run by Quality in Tourism (more on that later!) and talking to each other to make sure nobody is going through these big changes alone! Rob’s talk was useful in setting out a plan that event organisers can follow, to make sure their events are safe and Covid-secure.
Next, we heard from Deborah Heather, the director of Quality in Tourism. For over 20 years, Quality in Tourism has run accreditation schemes across the tourism industry. They created the ‘Safe, Clean & Legal’ scheme three years ago to provide clear regulations that consumers can see are being followed. And, they have recently worked with Primary Authority to expand this to include Covid-19. The aim of the scheme is to cover and accredit venues to make sure they’re doing the right thing when it comes to the virus, and beyond.
She suggests that many operators are ‘cleanwashing,’ and using their own self-serving schemes that aren’t accredited by an outside body, which essentially misleads customers. But, the job of Quality in Tourism and the like is to make sure that everything that can be done is being done, so customers are protected as much as possible. Alongside this, they share best practice to support venues and operators in mitigating the risk. Deborah suggested some areas to look at to make sure best practice is being adhered to. This includes cleaning, staff training, and visibility to ensure customer wellbeing and confidence.
She gave the example of a B&B in Torquay that now cleans their bedrooms in full PPE with the doors open. They’re not doing this because it is definitely necessary. Instead, they do it to visibly show to customers that they are doing everything they possibly can to keep their cleanliness standards high, and guests safe. In this way, safety and transparency are embedded into the product, giving a great message to customers.
Ryan is the Director of Sales at the Park Regis Hotel, Birmingham. The hotel has been working hard to become Covid-secure, so Ryan joined Back To The “Events” Future to share a case study to inspire attendees. The Park Regis is a primarily events-led hotel, so it’s very important for their business that events can resume there in a safe manner. The hotel was approached by the NHS to support their staff, so it was able to work through Covid procedures as they happened, as the hotel remained open throughout lockdown in the UK.
They have created a set of standard operating procedures to ensure the hotel is Covid-secure for both accommodation and events. The aim of the document is to make sure customers (and staff!) feel safe and secure, by visibly reassuring them of the hotel’s Covid procedures. This includes visible room cleaning, UV technology to ensure cleanliness, and one-way systems to avoid bottlenecks. The hotel has also created an 8-step plan to becoming secure, which applies to both events and accommodation. This includes concerns such as guest flow, technology, and the serving of food and drinks.
The final speaker of the webinar was David Woodcock, the director of PSP, the production partner for the event. He spoke about hybrid technology and how it integrated into our ‘new normal’. As a company, they have been delivering hybrid events for years, but Covid has definitely altered the events landscape. David mentioned a survey of event organisers, where 70% thought that hybrid events would become the new normal. So, they’re definitely here to stay.
While virtual events and live streams have been around for years, in the past the emphasis has usually been on the live event, with the virtual bolted on. But post-Covid, virtual audiences are likely to become a lot bigger, so the emphasis is likely to change. Events in a post-Covid world need to instill confidence in the delegates and make them feel safe. David gave some ideas for how to do this with hybrid events, alongside some points about how to make the most of hybrid events. Finally, he shared a video detailing what PSP is doing to deliver hybrid events safely at their warehouse.
Back To The “Events” Future: Conclusion
Overall, the webinar was hugely interesting and gave a great insight into what different event professionals are doing to ensure Covid-safe events, whether they are virtual or in-person. Events Together would like to say a huge thank you to everyone who attended and of course, the wonderful speakers who gave up their time and knowledge to share with the audience!