Yellow Caution Tape

A Cautionary Tale

KLEERTECH® recently had the opportunity to experience a live, in person meeting with approximately 90 attendees and 20 exhibitors. The event was organized by a state association and the decision to hold a live event was made by a vote of the association’s board. We were invited as a sponsor for the event and we accepted the invitation not quite knowing what to expect. Fortunately, we were pleasantly surprised.

The Venue

The venue was a hotel/resort located in a rural area of the state. This hotel was well equipped as a venue for conferences and meetings with an array of meeting rooms, auditoriums, and expansive corridors for registrations and check ins. The hotel’s provisions for food and drink were also well suited to serving groups.
The association members who put the event together were a husband and wife team. They had a well thought out plan for keeping everyone Covid free while getting together with fellow association members.
The registration desk was located in an open-air hallway with more than adequate air circulation between the two entrances to the conference auditorium. The desk was equipped with bottles of hand sanitizer and disposable masks which were available to all participants just in case they left them in their rooms. “Face Mask Required” signage was very visible and friendly verbal reminders were given freely and respectfully by the registrar who also happened to be a nurse.
Attendees waited in line, dutifully standing several feet apart guided by the taped X’s placed strategically on the carpeted floor. Distancing however didn’t seem to stop anyone from engaging in friendly chit chat with whoever they were standing in line with.
Acrylic plexiglass shields were placed on the registration desk creating a barrier between the registrant and registrar. Preprinted and stuffed name badges were placed well apart in alphabetical order on the table next to the registration desk. After giving their name to the registrar, the attendees picked up their badges and their swag bags at the foot of the table. Besides the event program the bag also contained a lanyard for wearing the name badge. The result was a virtually contactless process with all the necessary barriers in place.

The Meeting Room

The main meeting room was a large auditorium meant to seat several hundred people. In this case, less than 100 people were ultimately seated in the room.
Long tables with chairs were placed several feet apart in rows across the room facing the speaker podium. At the tables, attendees were placed at least six feet apart and were required to wear face masks for the duration of the speaker presentations. Again, everyone seated at the tables was able to freely converse with their table mates.

The Exhibition Hall

The exhibition hall was set up in another large auditorium. Booths were arranged around the perimeter with six back to back booths in the center. All booths were six feet or more apart and all exhibitors wore masks. Even during the highest traffic times when attendees were visiting booths at the times scheduled for exhibitor interactions, participants were able to stay spread out and safely distanced. We observed frequent interactions between attendee’s and exhibitors who had a lot of cool giveaways including the always popular snacks and candies.

Meals

As is usual for all day meetings, participants were offered breakfast and lunch over the two-and-a-half-day conference. Also, an end of day meetup was held on the second day on the hotels open air patio. The weather was ideal for an outdoor gathering with mild fall temperatures prevailing.
For breakfast and lunch, a food table was set up in a large room separate from the meeting room. Plates were filled by masked and gloved food servers and handed to each person as they took their turn after waiting in a well-spaced line. Each person then returned to their table in the auditorium or to tables in the exhibition hall which allowed diners to sit several feet apart. We have to say the meals were excellent as well as the service.
A beverage station was set up in the back of the auditorium where individuals stood several feet apart while waiting to serve themselves with hot drinks or bottled soft drinks.
Participants were very diligent about wearing masks which were only removed during meals and beverage breaks.

The Takeway

This event involved a small number of participants, the venue was ideally suited for social distancing, the spaces were large and well ventilated, and everyone complied with safe practices. These are all factors to be carefully considered before planning a live event.
As we slowly and cautiously return to live events, it seems the smaller the better at least for now.
Small groups allow for the level of control needed to keep us safe and healthy. With that in mind, a good option is a hybrid event where a small group attends in person and others participate virtually.
We went away from this event feeling good, much like we have felt following a pre-pandemic event; met and talked with lots of fun and interesting people, had some good food, and maybe got some good leads.
We at KLEERTECH® are eager to see others muster the courage and move forward with the same but simple safeguards in place. We predict they, too, will see it can be done and feel comfortable doing so.
We’re hoping your members and attendees will find the same comfort we found when venturing back into the world of live events.