For several months now, Noble Events has been planning Covid-secure events for our clients. It’s becoming the new norm. So we asked two of our senior event managers, Lydia and Katie, about how they tackled the challenges, what they did differently and what they were particularly proud of.
What did you have to do differently in the planning stages? What were the challenges?
Obviously there was a strong focus on enhanced safety measures and thorough delegate communications. When registering, delegates were asked to confirm that they did not have any Covid-related symptoms. The day before the event, they were asked this again, and also to confirm that they were not living with anyone who was self-isolating and had not come into contact with anyone showing symptoms in the last 14 days.
When researching suitable locations, the furlough situation meant that response times were sometimes slower as some venues were not fully staffed. This also meant that there were limited options to choose from as not everywhere was open, and some places were working on a limited service or had limited availability due to staycations (more people travelling in the UK as opposed to abroad).
In some cases, venue and supplier T&Cs hadn’t been adjusted to account for coronavirus and weren’t always as flexible as our clients wanted, particularly with regards to postponement and cancellation. Some hotels said they were limiting contact with guests and not going into their rooms each day to clean (which some people would actually be pleased about!).
What support did you get from the venues?
All suppliers were asked to provide their Covid-19 protocols and risk assessments, and these were generally sent quickly and were very thorough and detailed. Some venues actually provided PPE and hygiene supplies as part of their standard offering, which was great. And those venues with availability were obviously very keen to secure the business, so were responsive and helpful.
Why could these events not be done virtually or hybrid?
In order to get what they need for their articles, and to ensure as much objectivity as possible, the media really need to experience the car (or bike!). Presentations can be delivered via iPads but the live drive part of the event is irreplaceable, so the attendees get so much more out of a face to face experience.
What did you differently on site?
One of the most obvious areas of change was catering, with food being served in individual portions rather than the traditional buffet service, and snacks being individually wrapped or packaged. We had a lot of support from the venues and catering suppliers in making the service Covid-secure, and these efforts were appreciated by the delegates.
We provided welcome packs with PPE kits, including facemasks, gloves, hand sanitiser and antibacterial wipes. Each attendee had their own individual table, where they could view the presentation material and make their notes, and the cars were only permitted to hold one person at a time, rather than swapping drivers mid-route as we would normally.
If presentations were given in person, the meeting chairs were arranged to allow for social distancing. As it was the summer, we were actually able to do a great deal outdoors, for example we used a pizza oven to prepare individual meals for journalists at one event which they loved!
What changes did you have to make to the risk assessment?
In a nutshell, we added a full Covid-19 section, which covered all the measures needed to ensure social distancing, hygiene and cleanliness.
As an agency we were awarded the “We’re Good to Go” standard in August, on the back of the steps we’ve taken to ensure we’re managing risk properly. It’s a top priority for us all.
How did you manage delegates on arrival and during the day?
We initiated temperature checks on arrival for staff and journalists. When on the track with an instructor, they were asked to wear a facemask or helmet liner which covered their nose and mouth, and wherever possible journalists brought their own helmets. The cars and equipment was thoroughly cleaned and sanitised between drivers, and there was a regular cleaning programme, in particular for high traffic areas, toilets, furniture and all touchpoints.
How did people behave on site? Did they follow instructions willingly?
When guests see you with a mask and temperature gun, they automatically reach for their own mask in their pocket, its become second nature. Some were cautious when entering a new space, as they wanted to make sure they were following the rules. We tried to make the atmosphere as relaxed as possible but with the appropriate safety measures in place to follow. But the overriding feeling was excitement, as the delegates were thrilled to be out doing their job and seeing the product.
Did the clients achieve their objectives?
Absolutely. There’s been plenty of media coverage and the feedback from both clients and guests was very positive.