While every association has pivoted in numerous ways since the start of the pandemic, there’s probably no internal staff team that has faced more uncertainty than the meetings department. And changes keep coming, as they plan for the return of safe in-person events.
In addition to adhering to shifting health and safety rules, association meeting pros will have other considerations to keep in mind as they craft their event’s safety plan. Among them: local gathering restrictions, along with COVID-19 vaccine and testing requirements.
Lean on Partners
According to Tim Turner, a certified COVID-19 compliance officer and executive producer at Freeman, an events production company, associations should turn to their venues and host location’s convention and visitors bureau to determine the safest way to hold face-to-face meetings.
“If you are in, for example, Texas, it’s far different than if you were up north here in Chicago,” Turner said. “Have those conversations with the convention center and the hotel to find out what the rules of the road are in that particular city, because they have a handle on it, obviously, much better than anyone coming from another city or state.”
Karen Groppe, senior director of strategic communications at HIMSS, a medical association, said that local Las Vegas partners were essential to its August HIMSS21 Global Conference going well. “Having those partners, they knew of our safety plan,” Groppe said. “The more key stakeholders who know about your plan and the messaging, the better.”
Vaccines and Testing
Many organizations are also adding vaccine or testing requirements for attendees. Both require some logistical forethought.
For organizations that know before registrations opens that they will have a vaccine requirement, it is easier to provide information to attendees from the start and allow them to comply during the registration process. And for groups that decide to require vaccinations after registration opens, Groppe said it’s important to communicate that updated information frequently and on as many channels as possible.