Remember how flying changed after 9/11? It seems that the coronavirus will change how we attend events as well. I anticipate changes to be gradual, layered and we certainly won’t be able to avoid them in the near future.
The most basic question is SPACE. How much space between participants will these new measures require? The current Slovenian event standard that is based on the German DIN 15906 standard prescribes the following surface areas per attendee:
- Cinema 1,20 m2
- Classroom 1,60 m2
- U-shape 1,80 m2
When we took the minimal safe distance of 1,5 meters into account, we came up with the following numbers:
- Cinema 2,16 m2
- Classroom 2,88 m2
- U-shape 3,24 m2
Other things that will change are measures connected to digitalisation and providing interactivity. This will be especially important at smaller events. Less foreign speakers and more hybrid events. This means additional expenses will occur in the following fields:
- more professional multimedia technicians
- interactive conference systems like Slido
- video-conferencing systems that allow live streaming
- additional staff to take care of the live stream (cameraman etc.)
- highly capable internet connection to handle streaming
Ensuring a high level of safety and health precautions will produce additional expenses like:
- Disinfection of conference halls
- Handing out hand sanitizer to participants
- Checking body temperature at the entrance
- Providing masks
- Medical staff for controlling medical procedures
Catering expenses will also increase, as service will have to be individual and the space larger. The way food is served at events will not be the same (at least in the short run).
These are only the operational expenses of carrying out an event, not to mention the cost of bidding for the project, a process that will also change in the future.
Making sure events are “contactless” will be expensive. A discussion with healthcare representatives to talk about European event guidelines will have to take place.
We all want restrictions to be withdrawn as soon as possible, but things need to happen step-by-step. Governments are running out of cogent reasons to keep restrictions in place. The sooner liberalisation of socialising at certain types of events happens, the sooner restrictions will be withdrawn and I sincerely hope that appropriate standards are put in place.
Objectively least critical are events for up to 100 participants, where 2,16 m2 per participant is slightly easier to achieve. As a European meetings industry, we should strive to push for the removal of restrictions at smaller business events, especially when:
a) the attendees are from the same company and have been working together in the same space during the lockdown
b) the event is taking place outside
c) the event is taking place in a venue that provides a minimal safety distance between participants and guarantees appropriate hygiene measures