5 Socially Distanced Event Ideas 

This past year has meant figuring out new ways to do just about everything. In the events industry, many events were postponed or canceled, while others went online, with varying degrees of success. Even as the world returns to normal, it’s likely that event attendees and audiences will have new preferences in terms of health and safety. As a result, event organizers may still need to consider social distancing when coming up with event ideas.

Here are five ways to achieve a socially distanced event.

1. Make Your Event Exclusive

Huge, people-packed events have the potential to spread illness. In some cases, just one infected person might potentially transmit sickness to dozens or even hundreds of people, depending on what they do at the event.

This means that in times of illness, keeping an event small helps keep it safer. The fewer attendees you have, the less risk there is. And with fewer guests to manage, it’s easier to stay in control of safety measures such as social distancing and sanitization.

The small size of an event doesn’t necessarily diminish its value. Make your event an exclusive invite-only affair, with a select group of attendees. Those who attend will appreciate the chance to network with a tightly focused, niche group of people.

Pro Tip: One great way to do this is to go mobile, where you take the event to the attendees. A mobile event naturally limits the size but also appeals to guests because there’s no need for them to book travel or accommodations.

2. Take It Outdoors

If keeping your event small isn’t an option, how about moving it outdoors? Big indoor trade shows and similar industry events tend to be extremely crowded. And often, this issue is compounded by poor ventilation, which adds to the level of risk. Holding an outdoor event helps mitigate the risk posed by all those crowds of people. And it completely avoids the issue of poor ventilation.

An outdoor space provides plenty of clean, fresh air, and plenty of room too. People are likely to feel safer attending an outdoor event, and they’ll feel more comfortable visiting exhibit booths, networking, or taking part in activities.

A wide range of event types can work well outdoors, from trade shows to fairs and festivals to corporate team-building sessions. There are plenty of social distancing event ideas that will work just as well outdoors as inside, if not better.

  • Outdoor exhibitions, fairs, and festivals. This can include B2B trade shows and exhibitions, as well as consumer-focused events such as music or food festivals.
  • Drive-in entertainment. Drive-in movie theaters experienced a resurgence in popularity when the pandemic happened. The new popularity of drive-in movies has extended to other forms of drive-in entertainment, such as live music and even live theater. You don’t necessarily have to bring in big names either. Booking local bands and other talent can be a smart move, as many people these days are looking to support local businesses.
  • Corporate and company events. From team-building events to company picnics, many in-house events work just as well outside as inside. Swap indoor games for outdoor activities, and you’re set.

One particularly stunning example of an outdoor event was held in Paris in July 2020. The event was similar to a drive-in movie theater, but instead of sitting in parked cars, movie-goers were seated inside electric boats on the River Seine. Locals entered a raffle for the chance to win a seat, with just 150 lucky people winning a ticket to “Cinema sur l’Eau.”

Plan a Successful Outdoor Event

3. Embrace Innovations That Make Distancing Easier

The pandemic has forced us to rethink the way we do things. Many companies have been hard at work innovating new designs and coming up with solutions for the problems that illness poses. These designs offer new social distancing event ideas that make distancing easier to manage.

  • Bubble pods. A new concept in outdoor seating, bubble pods provide physicallly distanced event seating for small groups. Situated six feet apart or more, these pods allow people to enjoy outdoor entertainment safely and comfortably.
  • Space bubbles. Indie rock band The Flaming Lips staged one-of-a-kind concerts in January 2021, where each band member and the audience attended in their own inflatable plastic bubbles.
  • Outdoor dining. From plastic pods to table-sized glass-houses, there are lots of options for socially-distanced dining.

woman points phone at qr code

4. Enhance Safety with Contactless Tech

Any event of any size can benefit from using contactless technology, or simply from thinking of new, contact-free ways to get things done. Whether it’s a huge trade show or a small corporate event, there are many different options for reducing the overall number of contact points. Some ways to do this at an event that’s also socially distanced include:

  • QR-powered contactless ticketing. The randomly generated pattern in a QR code can contain all kinds of information, and these codes can be scanned by both smartphones and dedicated QR readers. That makes them ideal to use for contactless ticketing, as unique codes can be issued to attendees, who can then use their phones to check-in at an event.
  • Near-field communication tech. NFC tech powers wearables such as watches and wristbands, and many smartphones now use NFC chips too. This tech can be used for contactless registration, payment, and information exchange. Issue attendees with NFC-powered wristbands, and you can potentially replace most points of contact at an event.
  • No-tech contactless options. Contactless doesn’t necessarily mean high-tech. It can be something as simple as serving pre-packaged food and drinks, instead of a buffet-style meal.

Invest in This Contactless Tech

5. Take Your Event Online

Of course, the ultimate in social distancing is to forgo the live event altogether, and take it online instead. This means no issues with venues, no need for contactless tech, and no problems with maintaining social distancing and other health and safety measures.

Virtual events can take a wide variety of forms and sizes, from webinars or live performances to big trade shows. XtendLive is an immersive, 3D virtual event platform that is able to host online events of all kinds. Explore their portfolio here.

While a virtual event isn’t always the right answer, it is a good option in many situations. As an alternative to an in-person conference, training day, or even trade show, a virtual event does have its advantages. For instance:

  • It’s more affordable to produce. No need to pay for a venue or vendors means there are fewer big expenses to cover.
  • There are fewer barriers to entry. Virtual events are generally less expensive to attend, and people can see the event from anywhere, as long as they have an internet connection.
  • It has huge data-gathering potential. You gain powerful data-gathering and analytics due to the ease of tracking attendee activity during the event.

And, of course, it’s the safest kind of social distancing possible, as attendees never come into physical contact with one another. People attend the event from home or their workplace, which means the risk is rock bottom.

Event Social Distancing May Be Part of the New Normal

As we move forward, it will take some time for the new normal to show itself. We don’t exactly know what it will look like, so it makes sense to prepare for anything. For event organizers, it may be wise to assume that health and safety measures such as social distancing will continue to be important for some time to come. Planning an event that makes social distancing easy makes sure you have all your bases covered.

Ivan Fujihara

Chief Financial Officer

Ivan brings 25+ years in senior level management experience from a variety of technology industries.  His background includes accounting management, analytics and audit management for technology companies.  He has worked with companies such as THX, Ltd, Recruitology , Double Click, Creative Labs and more.  Ivan has also served on the board of Lincoln Families, a non-profit that supports East Bay children with the objective of disrupting the cycle of trauma and poverty.

Matt Rulis

Vice President of Sales

Matt is a marketing professional and has been managing marketing strategies, campaigns and environments for a diverse client base for over 15 years. From a service perspective, Matt and his team of Account Executives focus on fostering relationships to uphold a greater than 99% customer satisfaction rating year-over-year. Additionally, with extensive experience on the client-side of the industry, he understands that alignment between expectation and budget is paramount to a successful project. As a result, ProGlobalEvents' clients can expect a competitive advantage paired with top quality products and services. Matt is an avid fly-fisherman, enjoys most outdoor activities and is a true college football fanatic.

Tom Foley

VP of Operations

Heading the fabrication side of ProGlobalEvents is exhibit and event industry veteran, Tom Foley. For over 35 years he has been responsible for building amazing exhibits and environments for clients. Tom started out in the production area and has broad experience in project and operations management. He currently oversees production, warehouse, graphics and project management departments. Tom studied machine tool technology and welding before entering the industry. As a true "builder" he also enjoys restoring and modifying classic American cars.

Dick Wheeler

President

Dick serves as President of ProGlobalEvents and President of ProExhibits and is a board member of CEMA (Corporate Event Marketing Association). At ProExhibits he has been nationally recognized as an innovator and driving force in the fast-growing trade show exhibit and event industry. Under his leadership in 1997, the firm received INC magazine’s INC 500 award as one of America’s fastest-growing companies. His informative articles on developments and innovations in the trade show exhibit and event industry have appeared in national trade publications. Dick has a B.S. degree from Wittemore School of Business & Economics at the University of New Hampshire and has completed the Entrepreneurial Executive Leadership Program sponsored by MIT, YEO and INC. He is actively involved in Vistage, an interactive group of over 20,000 CEO’s and presidents worldwide and is a member of CEMA and EDPA.

Jack Connolly

Creative Director

As an experiential creative director, Jack prefers to draw outside the lines. He tells stories with original content and impactful design to ignite meaningful conversation.

 

Jack brings 20 years of event industry knowledge to ProGlobalEvents. He specializes in building live & virtual platforms for audiences to connect, engage and immerse themselves in the power of a shared experience. His skills range from ideation and concept development to defining an attendee journey through storytelling and design.

Jack understands the creative process is not linear, but a collaborative process between agency and client. He manages teams of designers and technology developers to pioneer impactful brand experiences. His diverse skillset and leadership ensure for award-winning results and memorable impressions.

 

In 2019, BizBash named Jack one of the top event designers in North America. SXSW awarded his work the “People’s Choice in Innovation” in 2021.

Jody Tatro

Chief Executive Officer

In addition to being CEO of ProGlobalEvents, Jody is also the CEO of ProExhibits. With Jody at the helm, the company has been recognized repeatedly as one of the Top 50 Women Owned Businesses in Silicon Valley. She has set the outstanding client service standards for which the firm’s account management team is noted. Jody is a recipient of the YWCA’s Tribute to Women Award, the Junior League Community Volunteer Award and is listed in Who’s Who of Women in Business. Following her graduation from California Polytechnic State University in San Luis Obispo, Jody held various sales positions in several technology companies.

Paul Miller

Chief Marketing Officer

Having served in a number of executive roles for companies in Silicon Valley for over 25 years, Paul has a client-side perspective of the corporate events industry. He has a broad set of experiences working for startups as well as global firms such as Applied Materials. At ProGlobalEvents, Paul helps the company to reach clients through traditional and digital marketing programs. With an extensive background in the High Tech sector, he’s also involved with technology strategy both internally and for clients. Paul is a graduate of the Harvard Business School, the Stanford Engineering Design School and Claremont McKenna College. In his spare time he is a also a principal member of the non-profit Gratitude Network which mentors award winning social entrepreneurs.