Were you forced to cancel an event because of COVID-19? Read 5 tips to Pivot Your Special Event During COVID-19

1. Postpone, Don’t Cancel Your Event – But Do Consider the Risks

Discuss your possible options with your organization’s event committee, or, if your event is a social gathering, discuss with your family, bride/groom, etc. Discuss the pros and cons of postponing the event. Make sure you consider your guests. Will they still be able to attend? Is there a preferred time? Think about how COVID-19 may be affecting each  of your guests. Consider sending out a survey to get a better understanding of how possible attendees feel about the event being postponed. 

TIP: Make sure to get the appropriate permits & approvals from city officials if required. We can of course help with this if you’re not sure where to start.

Once you’ve determined that you are able to postpone the event instead of cancelling it, get in touch with your venue ASAP. Ask for other date options and make sure the venue will transfer any fees or deposits to the new date.

After you’ve discussed new date options, regroup with your entire event team, and any vendors (florists, DJ’s, caterers, etc.) to inform them of the decision. I guarantee your vendors will be relieved when you tell them you’re not cancelling, you’re just postponing your event. Make sure the new date works for your vendors and work out any specific details needed for the new date.

But in the end, please make sure you consider how essential the event is right now and the rate of virus transmission in your local community. There could be legal risks if an attendee were to get sick at your event. We recommend speaking to a legal advisor before hosting your event and making sure you get appropriate insurance policies if available. 


2. Communicate with Guests & Edit Promotional Messaging

So you’ve determined if you are able to postpone instead of canceling, and you’ve surveyed your guests to make sure they’re available: Now, inform them of the new date immediately so they can get it on their calendar.

Continually update your guests and check-in with them to make sure they are doing well. If your event is ticketed, let them know refunds are available. Depending on your overhead costs, you should decide whether you want to offer refunds for any reason or specific reasons (example: if gathering bans go back into effect and you’re unable to hold the event.)

TIP: Use an email software program like Mailchimp to schedule event updates for guests, vendors and partners. See how we can help with this here. 

Make sure your guests feel safe. Outline the safety procedures you as an event owner are taking to ensure guest health & safety. Discourage anyone who has recently been sick or has been in contact with someone who is sick.  Additionally, encourage older adults and persons with severe pre-existing health conditions to consider their risk, and possibly not to come to your event.


3. Rethink Safety During The Event

Reduce attendee density. Increase the venue size (if possible), remove extra decoration, props, etc. so guests have more room to move around the event space.

If possible, implement timed ticketing/arrival and limit the number of guests allowed inside the event space at one time. Instead of having all of your guests arrive right at 7pm, set up timed arrivals through your ticketing system so that only a certain number of people arrive every 10-15 minutes. This helps decrease lines and attendee congregation at entry points.

Implement a cleaning team and put them in charge of sanitizing handrails, door knobs, bathrooms, chairs and any other touch points.

Limit the number of people at a single table. For a ten top table, change it to a six top or even four.

For food service and buffets, install plexiglass shields in front of serving tables. Have chefs serve food instead of letting guests help themselves.

For “cash bars”, refuse to accept cash. Most ticketing platforms allow you to upsell merchandise and similar items. Get their approval to use it for alcohol sales and use chip readers or “tap and go” payment options.

Take guest temperatures at front entry points and of course provide masks and safety supplies for event staff.



4. Develop an Emergency Action Plan

Think about what happens if someone is coughing inside of your event. If your event takes place in a confined space, guests will be uncomfortable and will most likely leave your event. 

Determine what steps you need to take if guests appear to be sick or are coughing constantly. Have emergency kits prepared with hand sanitizer that contains at least 60% alcohol, tissues, trash baskets, disposable facemasks, and cleaners and disinfectants. Immediately provide these kits to sick guests and staff. Immediately remove them from the event or move them into a designated space for staff and participants who may become sick and cannot leave the event immediately


5. Restructure Your Event & Support Your Vendors and Local Businesses

Way number 5 of 5 Ways to Pivot Your Special Event During COVID-19: Think about the other ways you may be able to host your event. There are plenty of virtual options, but guests want to get out and attend events. They’ve been sitting in front of their computer for meetings, conference calls and plenty more.

For community festivals with vendors, consider a “drive-through” festival. Widen aisle ways, spread out vendor booths over a large area, and give attendees a detailed listing of each vendor and their products before they arrive. Attendees can snag their favorite items from vendors on the go.

Hosting a concert? Transition this to a “drive-in” concert! Expand your sound system, develop a logistical parking plot and have your guests bring their own snacks.

Planning a graduation ceremony? Work with our team to setup a live steam ceremony in a studio with a beautiful decorated backdrop, podium and all the other bells and whistles.

Many small businesses and festival/fair vendors are struggling to stay in business. Work with the local government to provide sponsorships to local businesses who have supported your event in the past. Create a community sponsorship for individuals to sponsor festival vendor fees for businesses. Promote your vendors through social media channels and on websites because they are the vendors that make your event unique.


Final Thoughts:

In the end, there are lots of creative ways you can switch up your event and be at the forefront of change. If our 5 Ways to Pivot Your Special Event During COVID-19 wasn’t enough, read the CDC’s guidelines for hosting large events here. Treadway Events can help your event reflect the way the world exists today. Get in touch to schedule a free virtual event consultation and a coffee on us! Stay healthy and be safe!