What Companies Should Consider When Planning Events in 2022
Updated: Mar 9, 2022
Before you schedule that meeting, make sure you consider these new realities that could have a major impact on your event.
Anyone who has tried to plan a corporate event since 2020 knows the feeling of whiplash that accompanies trying to make future plans during the times of Covid. It feels almost impossible to predict whether we can safely gather in person in 3 months, 6 months, or a year. This lack of predictability makes planning events confusing and frustrating for corporate hosts. However, while the outlook of the pandemic is still rapidly changing, the corporate event experts at Simple Meeting Solutions have identified some important considerations to help companies evaluate their event plans for 2022.
Understand your company’s risk tolerance.
How confident your company feels about meeting in-person depends on several factors:
Who are your attendees? Are they high-risk? Traveling from areas with high infection rates? Are they vaccinated?
Does your company have the money to cancel or pivot? If the budget is tight, choosing a virtual format from the get-go is still your best strategy for mitigating financial risk.
Do your plans for corporate events align with the standard practices or policies regarding Covid that your company has established at “the office?”
If your company is culturally risk-averse, keeping your events virtual in 2022 is still a good plan and one that will avoid any financial losses due to cancellations. However, if your company is feeling more optimistic about the pandemic, in-person meetings in 2022 can be done safely with the right plan and the right partners.
Understand your attendees’ risk tolerance.
How do your potential attendees feel about in-person events? Ask them! Understanding your attendees’ risk tolerance BEFORE making any commitments to in-person events is critical. A simple survey to your potential attendees about their feelings towards travel, in-person gatherings, and masking is a great way to get a temperature check (no pun intended) on attendee expectations and comfort levels. Keep in mind that a survey is a static measure of your attendees’ comfort level and will be driven by Covid’s news coverage at the time. But it’s worth asking the important questions of those you want to attend before you get too far into the planning process.
Budget for “Covid Safety.”
If you decide to pursue an in-person event, know that your in-person gathering will look a lot different on both paper and in reality that your pre-Covid meetings. In order to meet safely, you will need to budget for safety measures that you didn’t have to think about before. Everything from sanitization stations, masks, pre-event and onsite Covid tests, and improved directional signage must be considered. Other changes to function space setup, food and beverage, transportation, and lodging to optimize safety will come with costs. And lastly, you will need to account for any costs that may arise if you have a positive Covid case at your event – the costs to quarantine an attendee can be significant if you plan to cover accommodations, food and beverage, and air travel changes.
If you’re planning to meet in person, be prepared to pivot.
“Always have a back-up” is a standard mantra in the events industry and is true now more than ever. Even as the ability to safely meet in person improves, it is still a good idea to have a plan (and budget) in place in case you need to change course and convert your in-person event to virtual. Understand the costs of cancelling your in-person event and what it will take to execute a successful virtual event in its place. Make sure your budget accounts for the wiggle room you may need to change course. Lastly, take the time to establish criteria for pivoting from in-person to virtual early in the event planning process: identify what pandemic statistics will force you to change your plans and establish a timeline for making that decision.
Make your meeting worth it.
Does your company have a compelling reason for gathering in-person? Attendees are increasingly more discerning when it comes to evaluating travel and in-person meetings, especially as they try to balance changing childcare needs and high-risk relatives. While your company is doing a Return-on-Investment calculation for your event, your potential attendee is conducting a Return-on-Risk assessment of your meeting invitation.
If you are asking them to gather in-person, make sure there is a rock-solid strategic reason for doing so. If your event is optional, you should plan to invest in top-notch content that an attendee cannot get anywhere else or cannot be successfully delivered virtually. If this is a business meeting at which attendance is required, be thoughtful about how you are using your employees’ time, how you are planning for their comfort and safety, and about offering experiences that will authentically enhance their event experience (and will be worth traveling for). What you want to avoid is having attendees leave your meeting with the thought, “Well that meeting could have been a Zoom call.”
Two years into this pandemic, we are ready to meet in-person again and restore some sort of normalcy. And thanks to our growing understanding of Covid-19 and how it operates, it is becoming increasingly safer to gather in person again. However, we are not totally out of the fog yet and navigating in-person events in 2022 will still feel like choppy seas for the foreseeable future. But with the above strategies in mind, and with an expert partner like Simple Meeting Solutions, you can host both successful in-person and virtual meetings in 2022. Let’s start planning!