Event planning has always demanded a unique skill set, but the pandemic has elevated the challenges presented to event planners beyond our wildest imaginations and best laid plans. We want to support event planners, across Ontario, to take back some of the control Covid-19 has taken from our industry.
In the spirit of achieving this, we’re providing five tips that will help event planners achieve their goal of a great event while navigating the ups, downs and unexpected turns of our current circumstances. After checking out the dos and don’ts below, please don’t hesitate to reach out to our Vintage Hotels event planning team for support on planning your upcoming event. We are here to make your job – and life – easier, so you can focus on the little details that define a meaningful business meeting or special celebration.
1. Know which restrictions will be in place at the time of your event
This one is tricky because, of course, everything can change on a dime. Perhaps we should say know the predicted restrictions and plan around them. Depending on which phase of restrictions you are in when planning, and whether numbers seem to be improving or worsening, make the best-possible decisions with what you know.
Never hesitate to be overly cautious and create wiggle room in terms of attendee numbers. It’s much safer to err on the side of excess space for social distancing. There is always the opportunity to add to your guest list, but uninviting loved ones or stakeholders from an event is far from ideal. Work with a venue that’s flexible with shifting numbers and can support you with big ideas and bold creativity to make their spaces and amenities work in a crunch.
2. Nail down your guest list…ASAP
Speaking of inviting and uninviting people: one of the best ways to ensure the quality of your event is to know how many people you need to invite to make the endeavour a success. Understanding what your guest list looks like will help you choose an event venue that is well suited to a successful gathering. More than that, you will be able to make arrangements that allow for social distancing without diminishing the ROI on your planning.
Dependent on the venue you choose, confirming the guestlist will also empower your vendors/venue to make recommendations that add value to your event without compromising the safety or comfort of your guests. So, as soon as possible, get people to RSVP whether they will be attending in person or online and begin choosing accommodations and event spaces appropriate to that number.
3. Prepare to be flexible
If event planners have learned nothing else during Covid-19, it’s that we need to be ready to adapt to unpredictable weather, people’s everchanging preferences and even (all jokes aside) a plague. Unfortunately, there is no event planner’s magic ball that can tell us whether the pandemic situation is improving or if we are headed back towards a lockdown.
To avoid pulling your hair out and disappointing your potential attendees, you need to prepare for multiple outcomes:
- Ensure your venue can facilitate hybrid meetings in case you need to quicky shift from hosting everyone in one place but cannot risk excluding anyone
- Provide schedules well in advance that include alternative ways to participate should any of the in-person plans need to shift
- Consider how you can incorporate outdoor options
- Stay in constant contact with your venue to understand how they can adapt to changing circumstances
4. Work with a venue that will reduce – rather than create – stress
When you are planning a wedding, celebration or corporate event within Ontario, there are so many different venues to choose from. What’s important to know is each venue – and the event team that comes with it – will offer various levels of involvement in the event planning and management process.
Some places may simply provide the space for your event and then leave up much of the implementation to you. Other event venues will fully support you with the strategic vision, set-up and, importantly, ensuring you meet and exceed all health and safety standards.
When you already have a lot going on and every day presents new Covid-19 challenges, we recommend ensuring your venue comes equipped with a professional event planning team who will help you bite off whatever you plan to proverbially chew. The more they are willing to collaborate and communicate, the more likely it is you will be kept in the loop about important changes to their policies.
The sooner you know, the sooner you can let your guests know, and that point leads us to number five…
5. Manage attendee expectations
As we’ve mentioned above, no one can really control how Covid-19 will pan(demic) out. What you can do is manage people’s reactions to unforeseeable circumstances by maintaining consistent, compassionate communication. As much as possible, come up with Plan A and Plan B. Be transparent with your attendees about what each option looks like and how changes may affect their attendance and participation in the plans.
Use surveys to gauge people’s opinions on the meeting or celebratory soiree and then speak directly to their feedback via your correspondence and actions. Exercise compassion & over communication to enhance comfort levels, and do not be shy to confirm and reconfirm every single detail with your venue to ensure your guests will cared for and catered to.
Our best tip of all? Work with an Ontario event venue that cares about your guests as much as you do.
Covid-19 has proven the importance of selflessness, cooperation and respect. Few other industries have made the essence of these values clearer than event planning. At Vintage Hotels, we pride ourselves on cultivating meaningful guest experiences. Throughout the pandemic we have deepened and doubled down on our commitments to cleanliness, responsiveness and effectiveness, and we will only continue this dedication throughout 2022.
If you are hoping to plan a great event this year, reach out to our event planner and find out how we will balance the demands of our everchanging world with the specific vision and goals for your event. We are thrilled to have the opportunity to show you how to host an event during the Covid-19 pandemic that does not feel like it was planned during a pandemic.