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5 things to know when planning events during the COVID-19 pandemic

The event industry is probably one of the most dynamic. In fact, few industries face as many changes and challenges as this one. Additionally, it had to adapt greatly to the uncertainty related to the COVID-19 pandemic as well as the measures the government has taken to control the transmission of the virus. Fortunately, event planners were able to redouble their efforts to continue to present events, to the great pleasure of the participants.

What are the implications to factor-in when planning an event in Quebec during these times ? Can we assume that the event industry is back “to normal” ? How has the pandemic changed the industry in the long-run ? What lessons should we learn from this ? We went through all of these questions for you this summer, here’s a rundown.

 

What is the current situation in Quebec for events?

Now that the vaccine passport is required to enter a performance hall, a restaurant, a sporting event or a festival, certain flexibilities have been granted by the Gouvernement du Québec :

  • Since October 8, sporting events and shows held indoors no longer have spectator limits, provided that seats are assigned. Attendees must also wear a mask at all times, except when eating or drinking.
  • Sporting events and shows held outdoors with assigned seats no longer have to be restricted in terms of the number of spectators. In addition, masks are no longer mandatory, but they are strongly recommended.
  • Outdoor events without assigned seats must provide independent sections of 500 people. Each section must have a minimum area of 2 m2 per person. Participants must also reserve in advance and wearing a mask is recommended when moving through the crowd.

 

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5 practices to implement when event planning

The population’s excitement was greatly felt during the summer and fall seasons, when several festivals presented redesigned formulas of their usual activities. Here are some practices that should be implemented when holding events.

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“It feels good to see live music. Despite the special measures, it was much better than spending my day browsing Netflix! I felt like I was  back in 2019 for a moment. “

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Sabrina, about Piknik Électronik

1.Provide effective hygienic devices

No organizer wants their event to become a hotbed for COVID-19 outbreaks. Even if the vaccination passport makes it possible to ensure that all participants are adequately vaccinated, it is essential to provide effective hygienic devices at the entrance, at the exit and on the event site.

Hydroalcoholic gel and face mask dispensers should be installed in strategic places that are easily accessible. Some places such as washrooms, bars, food counters and entryways are areas where the virus may spread and therefore should be cleaned frequently.

2.Plan for additional staff

These cleaning and security measures may require additional staff. Because of this, it is important to plan more employees than usual, who will be able to perform several tasks often neglected during the pre-COVID era such as the thorough cleaning of surfaces and facilities that may be infected, the distribution of face masks or disinfectant gel, guiding crowds to planned areas or exits, surveillance, etc.

This personnel must also be adequately trained. Marie-Pier Hamelin, senior project manager at TRIBU, also believes that information should be given in advance and not on the very morning of the event, a fairly frequent practice with “one-day employees”. By doing so, the risks will be reduced and the organization itself could avoid further problems :

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“Many have gotten used to giving instructions on the very morning. Now, we need to think ahead, give them more time. They are, in a way, the brand’s guardians. “

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Marie-Pier Hamelin, senior project manager at TRIBU

3.Online ticketing

Since participants of large-scale events must reserve in advance, the use of an efficient online ticketing platform becomes essential. Indeed, it is difficult to estimate the number of festival-goers or spectators that will be present at an event without a ticket office allowing easy booking, whether the event is paid or free.

In doing so, it will be much easier for the organizer to adapt its facilities and to plan them in order to comply with the health measures imposed by government authorities.

4.Bet on local talent

The restrictions that large-scale events must comply with can be a real headache in ensuring the viability of operations. In order to reduce the costs related to the arrival of international artists and, at the same time, to maximize the chances of profitability, it may be very interesting for promoters to bet on local talent when it is time to build a lineup.

 

 

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5.Be creative!

According to Marie-Pier, some practices resulting from the industry’s creativity in these times are here to stay: “I believe that certain elements with ‘added value’ must be kept”. Among these, live streaming and content creation are likely to establish themselves as a norm, which will also allow people who are still hesitant to join in large crowds to appreciate and participate in events.

 

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In the same vein, a certain introspection must be done to learn lessons from event planning during these difficult times. “The idea of cancelling an event due to force majeure, we see little, now, yes […] To maintain a good relationship with sponsors, when an event occurs, we must propose other means to achieve our commercial goals” believes Marie-Pier who, at the same time, emphasizes the importance of reviewing certain contractual agreements.

Ultimately, few people are better equipped than event planners to get up and face the music. Now that events have resumed and are quietly returning to their “normal”, pre-COVID state, it is important for each organization to rethink its activities, all while planning an offer that meets their fans expectations, who have waited too long to be able to reconnect with their favorite artists, hobbies or simply, just other humans.