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.”
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.
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.
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. BeyondLive 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.