The Covid-19 pandemic caused the cancellation of hundreds of conferences and events. Now moving forward, businesses and entrepreneurs are faced with an equally daunting task. They must try and plan for the uncertain year ahead.
We don’t know what 2021 will bring. But it is clear that any event that is going to take place in the next year needs to be planned with the utmost caution.
Here are ten things you need to consider when planning a conference for 2021.
1. Type of Venue
Moreso than ever before, the venue of your conference has to be carefully evaluated. You can no longer rely on traditional room occupancy regulations.
Instead, you have to find out how big every room is so that you can determine how many people will fit when they are safely spaced apart.
Additionally, you have to consider the number of bathrooms and potential entrances and exits.
You should also think about your venue’s airflow. Is it an older building that will create stagnant air? Or does your venue allow for open windows or outdoor participation?
2. Travel Restrictions
A lot of conferences choose a destination location for their event. If you are planning such a conference, you need to be aware of local restrictions. The number of people who are legally allowed to gather together can vary regionally.
Also, consider how many people will have to travel long distances to reach your conference. Travel restrictions could also impact your event attendance.
3. Use of Signage
You’ve always used signage at conferences. But 2021’s use of signage will be unprecedented.
In addition to announcing different events and speakers, you will also need to use signage to direct traffic flow. This will prevent too many people from crowding into one space.
Consider floor decals as a way to denote spacing between participants, as well as indicate one-way traffic in hallways.
4. Virtual Possibilities
Any conference in 2021 should have virtual opt-in possibilities. You may even decide that your conference should be held entirely online this year.
But if not, offer your participants the opportunity to get involved from afar. Fortunately, modern technology has made it so that virtual participation is still really engaging and effective.
5. Transition Time Between Events
Be careful not to stack events one on top of the other. When conference planning for 2021, you will have to add a little extra transition time between events.
For example, let’s say you have one speaker scheduled at ten o’clock and another scheduled at noon in the same room. Make sure to leave at least twenty-five minutes in between speakers so that each chair can be properly sanitized.
6. Handwashing Stations
In addition to keeping the bathrooms open and stocked, you may want to include some separate handwashing stations. This will help people stay clean and safe at your conference.
And if you don’t want to include a full-on handwashing station, definitely keep hand sanitizer stocked and available. You could even order mini-bottles for everyone with the conference’s logo on them.
Masks are another fun way to build your brand and personalize your conference experience. Everyone at your conference in 2021 will likely be wearing a mask, so why not take advantage of that opportunity to promote your company or cause?
Order bulk personalized masks with your logo or graphics on them. In addition to keeping people safe, they will provide your guests with a little souvenir.
If you’re experienced in event planning, you know that nearly all conferences offer some kind of food. In the past, this has often meant a buffet option where people can serve themselves. This isn’t an optimal choice for 2021.
Instead, consider going with a catering company that offers prepackaged meals. If you still want to offer some variety, you can have guests sign up for different meals when they register.
9. Back-Up Plans
One of the reasons that so many conferences had to cancel in 2021 is that they didn’t have a contingency plan. Make sure that if you need to make significant changes to your event last minute, you are able to do so.
This means having a way to convert your event fully online if necessary. Other good ideas include having refundable deposits with your caterer and venue.
It may help to hire a consultant to assist you in these considerations. An agency that focuses on your niche, like pharma event planning or educational conferences, can be especially helpful.
If you have to move your event online, you may lose a little money. But having a back-up plan in place will ensure that you don’t lose too much.
10. Opportunities for Feedback
Lastly, give your participants the opportunity for feedback. 2021 is going to be an uncertain time full of variables and changes. No one knows exactly what to expect.
Giving your guests the opportunity to provide feedback shows them that you care what they think. It also sends the message that you want them to have a pleasant experience.
The best way to do this in 2021 is an online survey sent via email. You can use this feedback to make the next conference even better.
Planning a Conference for the Future
No one knows what the next year will bring. But the more you plan for changes, the more equipped you’ll be to handle them. If you consider these ten items, you’ll make sure your next conference is future-proof.
Still have questions about planning a conference? Check out our Business section to learn more.
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