CoronaVirus and Events: A Perfect Storm

Three microphones in front of an empty room full of orange seatsEvent planners are trained to plan for the worst and hope for the best, but who in the world expected a global pandemic to break out in 2020 and turn the world upside down? At its most serious, the current coronavirus outbreak has sadly claimed lives all over the world, just as event season is taking off. What should event planners do to protect the audiences they bring together?

Around the world, companies are taking different approaches to their events. We’re outlining a few below and the pros and cons of each:

Cancel or postpone
In the last week dozens of events large and small have been canceled or postponed due to the possibility of disease transmissions among large groups. On the upside this removes the change of anyone contracting the disease at your event, but the downside is the potential for major financial losses and disappointed attendees.

Switch to digital
Some companies, including Google, quickly shifted upcoming events to digital-only, meaning attendees can livestream the same sessions they would have seen in person from the comfort of their homes or offices. This is a viable option if the technology is within the realistic scope (ie can you afford to execute it at scale?), but if attendees lack the necessary tools to participate they may drop off in larger numbers than at in-person event.

The show must go on!
Even in the face of this news not every event is planning to cancel, and instead are sharing ways attendees can keep themselves healthy and informed. Saastr Annual, which expects to bring roughly 20,000 attendees to the Santa Clara Conventi
on Center from March 10-12, has implemented several rules for attendees including:
  • No handshakes
  • Thermal heatscreening to detect fevers
  • No admission for attendees coming from several countries including Italy and China, which are seeing large numbers of affected people.

Figuring out which decision is right for your event is both a science and an art, but you can never go wrong by following your gut and listening to your guests to create an experience that leaves everyone happy and above all safe and healthy.

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