What can meeting planners do at the moment?

Well, the worst thing we can do is panic. I’m glad that most of us in the meetings industry are of the same opinion – coronavirus can not stop us. Often times, quick decisions and cancellations can do more bad than good. With that said, we should also listen carefully to advice from authorities and have some common sense.

Despite the widespread panic, many events are still going on. In Slovenia, events with an attendance of over 500 participants have to be cancelled and postponing or cancelling smaller events is also under consideration. It’s important to evaluate if the event that you are organising is necessary. If so, health precautions need to be put in place.

Based on different sources and guidelines from health organisations, we have compiled a list of 10 precautions/recommendations that you should have in mind if you are organising an event in the upcoming weeks or before the situation stabilises. We hope that happens as soon as possible.

1. Reduce hall capacities
Conference halls and other venues have to be set up so that there is at least a 1-meter distance between the seats, preventing close contact between the participants. The distance between rows is also important. Simply put, you should basically cut the hall capacity in half to comply with the current situation.

2. Instructions for participants
You should write clear instructions and let participants know about the measures that you are making in order to ensure their safety, as well as precautions that they should be making. Hang out the instructions on visible, public spaces.

3. Proper cough etiquette
By now, we know that the virus is spread by contaminated droplets from coughing or sneezing, or by contact with contaminated hands, surfaces or objects. Make sure that you cough properly, into your sleeve and not into your hands.

4. Hand sanitizer and proper hygiene
Provide hand sanitizer and hygiene tissues in multiple locations and encourage participants to use them. It is also recommended that you wash your hands thoroughly for at least 20 seconds.

5. Hall disinfection
Strict cleaning and disinfection of conference halls and surfaces that participants are in contact with are one of the most important measures. Make sure that the cleaning staff is appropriately briefed and ask for their confirmation afterwards.

6. Airing out conference halls
If you are looking for an event venue, choose one that can be naturally aired out.

7. Handshake free meetings
Advise participants not to shake hands and have unnecessary personal contact with each other.

8. Insure your events and check contracts
We recommend insuring your event. Insurance companies have drastically increased their insurance premiums, but they are still better than the losses you might face. It’s also important to go through the contracts that you have made with the venue, providers, hotels etc.

9. Communicate honestly and openly
Provide your participants with up-to-date, objective information about the situation. You can also set up an urgent phone line, through which participants can ask questions. Remind participants who aren’t feeling well that it is best if they don’t attend the event.

10. Keep track of official information
Make sure to listen to information from trustworthy, official sources and comply with instructions from your country.

11. Have a list of all participants
Keep a list of all the attendees just in case someone on the list is found to have been infected. In the event of infection, the list of participants will be vital.

Everything meeting planners should know about COVID-19 in one place can be found on a dedicated landing page here. We encourage everyone to share this information and help colleagues in the meetings industry.

For the latest published information please review the following websites: