Pandemic Planning for Future Events


Organizations are preparing for the future and determining what precautions should be taken at different stages of event planning – from the alert phase through the return-to-normal phase. Many hotels and venues are beginning to release guidance on updated capacities, as well as distancing and safety guidelines for their spaces moving forward. This will allow planners to start grasping an idea of what future face-to-face meetings will look like. Here are some of the top trends we expect to take flight as the industry pivots to a new normal:

 Relentless Sanitization

It’s no secret that sanitization will be kicked up a notch (or three). Planners will look to hotels and convention centers to set health and sanitation guidelines. Hilton, among many other hotels, has issued precautionary guidelines for reopening. Example procedures include no more than four guests per elevator, virtual site inspections, and hand sanitizer dispensers placed at key guest and employee entrances. Future events will be about awareness, signage, and communication – at the end of the day, the most important way to ease attendee fear is through consistent, clear messaging.

 Event Contracting

Planners are actively looking at their annual event calendar to determine which events will be moved to this fall and which ones might hold off until 2021. Event professionals are working to add more space to existing contracts, relieving congestion from social distancing, as well as looking at flexible attrition terms and deposit schedules. “We know that planners will be reviewing contracts in more detail and will look to add additional cancellation terms, but your attendees will also be more likely to review your cancellation policies for ticketed events. Be as specific and upfront as possible with your cancellation terms and remember that attendees like options,” shares Kasey Hunter, LEO’s Event Sales Manager.

Vendor Due Diligence

Many organizations are looking at companies that survived the financial crisis, and why, to determine a vendor’s financial health. Companies that are escrowing deposits are more solid than those that are not. It is critical for clients to be asking these important questions.

Group Transportation

Planners predict that motor coaches originally seating 56 guests will reduced to 14-20. There are many discussions revolving around chartered vehicles versus Ubers. Passengers will want to feel safe with their transportation choices, and chartered vehicles are the most efficient way for planners to ensure that a vehicle has been properly sanitized, and who the passengers were beforehand.

Food-Safety First Mentality

Consumers are developing a dramatically heightened sense of what they view as safe food handling practices and an increasing desire to know where their food came from. Given our new “no-touch/no-contact” world, we can expect to see new, efficient solutions quickly gain traction, as self-service (i.e. buffets) will no longer be an option. We also predict that larger events will likely have fewer attendees in general as hybrid events (meaning smaller in-person gatherings couples with virtual streaming and events) become the norm, making plated meals a more obtainable option.


How we produce events will change and it will change for the better. Perhaps the biggest and most positive legacy from COVID-19 will be our approach to sustainability, as planners must develop ways to continue creating sustainable events that keep our environment moving in the right direction. So far, we have seen a sudden drop in carbon emissions as many planes are grounded and those who are able to do so are working from home. Sustainability will be the underlying reason why hybrid events will flourish. When face-to-face meetings return, we will start to notice planners creating breakout sessions that incorporate a mixture of physical speakers and live-streamed speakers. Both types of sessions will bring seamless content with an interactive element. Once COVID-19 is a thing of the past, it will leave an invaluable lesson, as it acted as a catalyst in developing our understanding of dealing with climate change in regard to meetings and events.

Event planners in a post-Coronavirus world will approach meetings and events with a new set of tools and experience. Efficiency, transparency, and accountability are three vital factors for professionals to thrive in this new environment.