Lessons Learned When We Planned a Live Event During Covid

Five months into the Covid pandemic we held 2 live events.

This event was originally scheduled for the middle of July 2020 but with the pandemic it laid in limbo until about 3 weeks before we were supposed to go live. We went back and forth trying to figure out what the best thing to do was.

When the gathering numbers changed to 50 people indoors it was decided to change this 100 person event into two separate 50 person events. And it was great, for so many reasons.

Most importantly, they felt safe.

We ended up holding the event at two different venues over two different 2-day periods. Our guests got to choose which event they wanted to attend based on the location and the dates offered. Of the 100 people who usually attend we had only 20 who were not able or willing to attend.

The survey results came back and the guests loved the more intimate feeling of the event and loved the new venue we were able to offer because of the changes. Instead of an overly packed agenda, the guests said how much they enjoyed having lots of free time to enjoy on their own. Although there were some frustrations with the lack of access to regular services and amenities our attendees were overall very satisfied with the experience. And most importantly, felt safe.

What Worked

  • The 5-star hotel we stayed at had everything set up safely
  • The staff at the 5-star hotel were overly (in a good way) involved to ensure everyone stayed safe
  • Booking two different venues was a great opportunity for our client to experience some changes to their event
  • Being able to offer two different dates to our attendees was appreciated
  • Breaking the event up into two allowed for a more intimate experience for the guests
  • The 5-star hotel was located at a resort that had many food and activity options for our guests to enjoy on their own
  • Giving the client new options to consider because the old ways were not going to work in 2020, which will allow us to change the event long term

What Was a Challenge

  • Not all hotels are created equal, as we already know, and it was very evident during a pandemic
  • Rules are not followed the same across all hotels
  • Having access to food and beverages is not as simple anymore
  • I was so focused on the Covid rules and concerns that I missed simple things like the wrong logo was on the signs at the hotel
  • Not being able to gather as we would normally for networking opportunities we had to find other ways to ensure the purpose of the event was met
  • Reminding attendees to keep their masks on once in the meeting space
  • Finding a space that was big enough to hold the right number of people in a socially distanced 6-feet apart setting

I think the biggest lesson I learned during the planning of these two events during Covid was that choosing the right venue is going to be the key to keeping your attendees safe if you plan to host a live event during a pandemic. I am not saying that all privately owned hotels, conference centers and resorts won't take the pandemic as seriously as a 5-star name brand hotel but I do believe that you need to be selective and do your homework.

Julia O’Grady has big vision, fresh ideas and a proven track record in the events industry. She and her team work hard to exceed client expectations and push ITM Events to achieve greater heights. A driven entrepreneur, Julia also manages the business side of ITM Events including human resources, finances, marketing and writing grant and sales proposals. In taking a high level approach to event management, Julia is able to visualize a project from inception to successful execution. She attracts valuable sponsors by offering meaningful opportunities to engage with participants. Julia uses her keen analytical mind to create incredible events that maximize the available budget. When Julia isn’t planning unforgettable events, she loves travelling the world with her family, staying active, and enjoying fine food and martinis.

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