As we transition to a post-COVID-19 reality, people are excited and anxious to reconnect in-person and especially eager to plan events that were put on hold in 2020 — from family reunions, neighborhood block parties and weddings to corporate events and nonprofit fundraisers, the list goes on. While everyone is ready to put the pandemic behind us, there are many event planning considerations we are taking with us from the past year. To ease your event planning conscience, we are here to help you think through new kinds of event checklists that will help you plan and facilitate an event that brings people together safely and with great enjoyment.
Event Planning Checklists
Working with vendors
- Before signing a contract with your venue, caterer or other vendors, review each line item thoroughly and pay special attention to their cancellation policy or COVID-19 cancellation clause. Make sure before signing that you and all entities involved are comfortable with the policies.
- When signing on with a new venue, keep a close eye on updated facility rules, such as event size and mask wearing and social distancing policies. If returning to a venue you’ve worked with before, ask if their facility rules have changed since last working with them.
- In addition to carefully reviewing your venue contract, read through each contract you have with caterers, keynote speakers, photographers, entertainers and other vendors to determine if you are comfortable with their contract terms and COVID-19 precautions.
- Research the COVID-19 regulations within the city, county and state where you’re hosting your event to ensure your event is in compliance. Check regulations frequently as they are updated.
- Speak with an insurance agent about the best insurance policy for your event and ask what risks to consider, such as inclement weather, alcohol-related incidents, or pandemic-related event postponement or cancellation.
Communicating with guests
- Keeping guests informed and setting expectations are key to creating an especially successful event these days. In your communications try to proactively answer as many of the questions as possible attendees may have, including if the event will be held outdoors, if masks are required, differences in requests for fully vaccinated or non-vaccinated attendees, etc. Clear communication enables guests to gauge their comfort level, make informed decisions about attending and know what to expect when they arrive.
- Consider creating a designated webpage or Facebook event for your event where you can provide thorough event details, updated information and contact information for event organizers.
- Require guests to RSVP to your event and consider using a robust registration platform to track of RSVPs and manage attendee lists, such as Eventbrite, The Knot for weddings or more robust tools, like Cvent and EventPro, for larger corporate events.
- Maintain guest contact lists and be prepared to communicate potential changes and updates to attendees ASAP, so they have adequate time to alter their plans if needed or adjust their expectations.
Making guests comfortable
- With costs rising, be mindful of your location and the accompanying expenses associated with people traveling to your event and their transportation and other needs once they arrive. Will people have to fly to your location? Will they need to rent a car once they arrive, or are you providing transportation to and from the venue and activities? What potential expenses will guests incur once they arrive, such as meals on their own, activity options, etc.?
- When planning your catering menu and service, gauge your guests’ comfort level with group dining. If needed, consider alternatives to the traditional self-serve buffet, such as a caterer-served buffet, plated dinners or boxed lunches. Be mindful that your guests will likely appreciate environmental-friendly packaging and tableware.
- Your guests will be excited to socialize and catch up with other guests. Schedule in extra time for people to reconnect and consider an extended cocktail hour, open mingling lunch or tea-time for people to have more time with each other.
A lot more thought and planning will go into your upcoming events, but your guests are sure to appreciate your thoughtfulness and attention to their concerns.