Events may be resuming, but as the pandemic continues to evolve, hosts and guests remain understandably cautious. The tidal wave of event cancellations at the start of COVID-19 showed many event organizers just how little they knew about operating a venue during a worst case scenario.
Now that the focus has shifted to creating safe and enjoyable events, it’s more important than ever for event planners to learn as much as they can about each venue’s policies and procedures.
As an event professional, you have a lot of new considerations to weigh, but these five open-ended questions can help you kick off the right conversations with venue representatives.
1. How are you prioritizing guest health and safety?
As larger groups and guests from different parts of the world reconnect in person, health and safety are top concerns. Venues are instrumental in facilitating everything from symptom screening and sanitation to food and beverage service and social distancing. They also may have specific limitations or creative ways of addressing concerns associated with in-person gatherings.
Asking about how the venue is planning around these factors can help you evaluate the safety of the space as well as the commitment of the venue’s team to putting guests’ needs first. This is an important conversation to start with, as the venue’s response will help you fine-tune your own event-specific safety protocols.
2. What are your COVID-19 policies and procedures?
A venue may have its own unique solutions for addressing health concerns during the pandemic, but it’s also useful to ask about COVID-specific policies.
For instance, find out if masks will be required indoors and if guests will be required to provide proof of vaccination or a negative COVID test prior to entering the space. Ask about headcount limitations and what circumstances or government guidance will prompt the venue to change its operations.
Use this question to learn more about how the venue will respond to confirmed COVID cases among its staff or guests. It’s in your best interest to find out how the venue will be handling contact tracing, potential staffing shortages, vaccination policies, mask-wearing protocols and other related issues.
Make sure you know what actions and precautions are being taken, and how these will be communicated to attendees.
3. What level of stability and flexibility can you offer?
The unfortunate truth is that the pandemic has had a devastating impact on event venues of all sizes. While booking a struggling venue can help support their business along the path to recovery, remain cautious. Have a frank conversation with company representatives to understand how financially stable the business is and what would happen if it shut down after accepting your deposit.
In addition to questions of stability, take the time to learn about the venue’s level of flexibility. Work through the fine print about their cancellation policies and the related financial impact. Make sure you understand your options for reducing or increasing your headcount due to COVID-related restrictions or evolving guest sentiment.
4. What support do you offer for hybrid events?
Whether you’re planning a hybrid event from the start or anticipate that you might need to adapt your event plan and go virtual later on, ask about the availability of AV equipment and other tech capabilities. Check on whether the venue has the necessary gear and experienced staff in order to support virtual event components, or if you’ll need to work with a third-party vendor.
5. How else are you modifying events during the pandemic?
The above questions are important for covering your bases — but don’t forget that the venue’s team might be offering some new solutions that could make your event an even bigger success. Ask about how they have handled recent events and if any new options have become available.
You might learn about innovative solutions you haven’t thought about yet. Even if you’ve partnered with the venue before, outdoor space or unique layout configurations might now be available. Venue representatives may also be able to share advice and event modification ideas with you based on what has worked well (or not so well) in the space.
Leave the vendor vetting to JTB
Working with trusted venues during an unpredictable time can be stressful — especially for businesses that simply want to bring their communities together in person once again, without having to worry about contract fine-print and contingency plans.
Working with an experienced event team can help alleviate these concerns and bring some much-needed peace of mind to everyone involved. To ensure your event calendar is carried out without hitch in the safest and most accommodating venues, partner with JTB USA Meetings & Events.