Yes, this title is a question as there still remains much unchartered territory in strategizing how to open up events as states begin to open up. In Zooming my colleagues within the past mind boggling months, many challenging questions have been raised regarding how safely bringing events back on the grid will affect the roles of many vendors. These roles vary from safety enforcers, facilitators, and creative inventors, and those seeking the money.
One area of focus was on the food and beverage staff, and outside caterers for venues with open catering policies. There was concern how these workers would be on the front line of enforcing social distancing by virtue of their roles. Just like there are fire zones that are not available for seating or standing, areas of traffic flow around bars, action stations, (no longer buffets, but action stations which are designed for service safety), around tables, and areas accessing bathrooms, would need to have staff to ensure that guests are socially distancing. Or, would a facility be willing to hire additional security? If not, the serving staff may require more on hand to enforce safety, and serve guests.
What about reception highlights and dancing? DJs and audio visual staff may now see themselves also increasing in numbers to be able to facilitate activities so guests can safely engage with each other. Some weddings may now be smaller to keep vulnerable ones safe. But more television monitors, cameras and microphones may be needed to engage guests who are physically at the event with those who are virtually at the event. DJs may need to provide activities conducive to social distancing when opening up the dance floor like line dancing and the Macarena. (Just an idea here. They may need to come back).
Event planners and caterers have now seen their role changing into creative magicians, with creating drive up parties, virtual luncheons and happy hours. This is being done while trying to juggle rescheduling weddings, reassuring brides, and communicating with vendors, or in some cases, needing to find new vendors who could not accommodate the new schedule changes.
Then, there are those seeking the money. Accommodating new safety measures comes at a cost. Contracts need to be rewritten, attorneys need to assist with drawing up waivers so that vendors and venues can protect themselves from liability. And of course, additional staffing and equipment add to the cost. With the reduction in attendees and an increase in staff, how can either the client or the venue absorb the increased cost? Maybe this is where the rabbit should come in, especially if the increase in staff plus the number of attendees, puts the event over a state’s minimum requirement number of social distancing safety.
But there is optimism up ahead. The challenges faced with these questions will force all of us to be creative and collectively come up with solutions. Then of course, after making all of these adaptations, when a vaccine arrives (notice the optimism here), we can all go back to our previous way of operating. But we will be better for it. So keep the questions coming!