Mitigate the Health Risks of Your Meetings and Events: Prevent, Detect, and Respond


Managing the risks of potential illness and injury has always been necessary for event planners, but COVID-19 has added an unfortunate layer of complexity for the foreseeable future. As organizations start to plan for a future when in-person events come back, it’s important to resume in a safe way and have rigorous plans to prevent, detect and respond to potential outbreaks.

At the start of the pandemic, ITA Group formed a special task force to adapt health risk mitigation practices.

Our goal: Give our event clients and their attendees peace of mind and confidence so they can focus less on health risks, and instead on delivering and participating in events that inform, engage and inspire.

We are pleased to offer further peace of mind to our clients by recently announcing our partnership with Eurofins, a worldwide leader in health testing.

Assessing the Risk of Your In-Person Event

When determining how and when to operate a live event, there is much to consider. First, look at current recommendations from the U.S. State Department, CDC, WHO and local authorities. Next, take into account destination considerations, potential supplier service impacts, timing and audience demographics. The perception of holding the event and your attendees’ confidence in traveling, staying in a hotel and meeting in a group may also weigh into your decision. Lastly, it’s important to be flexible. Can your event objectives continue to be met with restrictions? If not, assess if you could you achieve the same impact in a safer destination, different dates or a different event format.

Operational Considerations to Prevent, Detect & Respond to Health & Safety Risks

Once you have decided to move forward with your in-person event, examine all aspects from an attendee and event planner perspective. Tailor your strategies and guidelines to mitigate health risks associated with your specific program and venues. Some best practices we recommend:

  • Prepare COVID-19 sampling/testing protocols and action plans to detect potential risks and monitor the effectiveness of cleaning procedures;
  • Conduct on-site COVID-19 testing with quick result turnaround time (within 24 hours if possible);
  • Develop health risk mitigation protocols based on agenda, crowd flow, room set ups, food service, participant demographics, destination guidelines, venues/properties and communications strategy;
  • Use surface-testing swabs to determine presence of the virus at the pre-event site visit and throughout the duration of the event;
  • Offer wearable technology to help with contact tracing and maintaining safe social distances; and
  • Validate and audit venue protocols immediately prior to the event

Other things to think about:

Policy

The most effective method to prevent the spread of illness is to manage who can attend. Having a strong sick attendee policy as part of your registration terms is critical. Evaluate any current policies in place and add specific language for the coronavirus. Consider how you will address and potentially compensate a variety of scenarios (e.g., What happens if an attendee doesn’t pass a temperature check with TSA or at event check-in? Or what is your policy if an attendee gets sick while onsite?).

 

Communication

Clear and comprehensive communication strategies regarding event purpose, travel details and coronavirus response are central to making this next unsteady phase a success. Attendee expectations are changing in light of COVID-19, and the information they want to receive and the messages companies ought to be communicating are changing. It’s important to share the steps that your event is taking to promote the health and safety of attendees. Even when certain regulations around gathering begin to lift, guests will be weighing the personal and community risks. Alleviate these worries by sharing the actions you’re taking to protect community welfare at the event.

 

Medical Response

In the event someone gets sick, how should staff contact emergency services for assistance? Which of your on-site team members should be immediately notified? If someone tests positive and is advised to quarantine, where will they be advised to go? Should they stay in their room and wait for a doctor or visit the nearest medical facility?

 

Consider creating an on-site contact list and chain of command for distribution that adheres to all HIPAA regulations.

 

Attendee Privacy

What is your privacy policy as it relates to on-site emergencies involving attendees? What are your processes for communicating with them directly and with their emergency contacts? What is your communication plan if someone tests positive for COVID-19?

 

Securing in-case-of-emergency contact information and permissions during registration will allow you to compile and access the data from one central location.

 

ITA Group & Eurofins Are Here to Help

When organizations are ready to return to face-to-face, live events have different factors they need to consider to keep their attendees as safe as possible. At ITA Group, we’re committed to keeping our clients and their attendees safe, comfortable and ready to win the day. If you’d like more information about the ITA Group and Eurofins partnership or what in-person events might look like in the future, let’s connect. We’d love to talk!

4600 Westown Parkway
West Des Moines, Iowa 50266
United States

4600 Westown Parkway
West Des Moines, Iowa 50266
United States

November 5, 2020

By Sarah Haines