The Role Attendees Play in Creating Safe Meeting Environments

A new guide from the Events Industry Council includes a code of conduct that outlines how attendees contribute to the health and safety of a meeting. A look at some examples included in the guide and beyond.

When face-to-face meetings resume, it will not only be on event organizers and venue staff to provide a safe environment. An equal share of responsibility falls on attendees.

That’s a key point made in the Events Industry Council’s newly released Meeting and Event Design Accepted Practices Guide [registration required for download].

Developed by EIC’s APEX COVID-19 Business Recovery Task Force, the guide features a number of resources, including a code of conduct that is meant to help organizers engage all meeting participants in the health and safety of their events.

“Community buy-in by all participants at the event level serves to advocate for the well-being of our fellow global citizens and our industry,” said Kinsley Meetings Chief Meeting Architect and APEX Commission Chair Allison Kinsley, CMM, CMP, CED, in a press release.

The code of conduct breaks down what attendees can do to support the “collective well-being of an event” into three phases: before leaving home, onsite, and post-event.

For example, the guide urges attendees to follow relevant guidance provided by the World Health Organization or their local health department before traveling. In addition, attendees should monitor the health of people they have been in close contact with. If a family member has recently had COVID-19 symptoms, the attendee should stay home.

The onsite section of the code is the most comprehensive. Not only should attendees wear a mask and agree to have their temperature checked before entering the venue if required by organizers, they should also adhere to social distance protocols and respect the personal space of their fellow attendees.

Then, once the event wraps up, attendees should contact event organizers if they test positive for COVID-19 within 14 days of returning home.

“We must, as individuals and organizations, take the responsibility to own the assessment and mitigation of risk, taking into account guidance from global, national, regional, and local public health officials. If we do so consistently, and communicate these steps effectively, we will make considerable strides,” said EIC CEO Amy Calvert in a press release.

In addition to the details that EIC outlines in its code of conduct, the reality is that attendees and exhibitors will also have to acclimate themselves to other new meeting and tradeshow etiquette. Things that would have been common in the past—like hugs and handshakes—are likely no-gos for the immediate future.

In a blog post published on Trade Show News Network earlier this month, Briquelle Neyens, a digital marketer at Skyline Exhibits, discussed how tradeshow booth staff need to prepare. Her advice is just as relevant to attendees.

“Shaking hands will be a hard habit to break, but one route for your booth staff to go is to let booth guests guide this interaction,” she wrote. “If they don’t reach out for a handshake, leave it at that and know that both sides are in agreement and understanding of the situation. A tilt of the head could be a simple replacement.”

Neyens also spoke about not overstepping boundaries and minding people’s space. “You may have seen markings at your checkout area in your local grocery stores to keep shoppers in each aisle at a respective distance during the COVID-19 pandemic,” she wrote. “This idea could be similarly used in your booth to ensure that it doesn’t feel overcrowded.”

Once face-to-face events start again, how will your association communicate to attendees that their actions matter in ensuring health and safety? Please share in the comments.

(elenabs/iStock/Getty Images Plus)

Samantha Whitehorne

By Samantha Whitehorne

Samantha Whitehorne is editor-in-chief of Associations Now. MORE

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