State of Events – September 2021 Update

In the past few months, there’s been a major political battle between people needing vaccination cards, passports or other medical testing – or not – to be allowed into certain events, venues, and businesses.

At first look, we event planners thought that creating systems to keep people safe and comfortable was a great thing. However, we’ve noticed that some of these systems are merely a façade that these events are “safe,” by claiming that they “adhere to COVID-19 policies.”

In this month’s State of Events, we’re talking about the difference between events touting COVID-19 buzz words to encourage ticket sales and actually doing everything in their power to be safe.

When you boil our work as event planners down, the sole purpose of us creating events is for other peoples’ enjoyment. The wellbeing of our attendees, clients and vendors is what we strive for. A lot of planners even go above and beyond looking after attendees who have special needs, making sure vendors have a seamless set up, and that clients feel everything is taken care of.

It’s been exceptionally tricky lately to know exactly how to make sure all these parties are taken care of, while being very careful of the political undertones, safety concerns and overall delicate landscape we currently must navigate.

Having been to an in-person outdoor event recently, we took note of how things can appear safer than they are, to garner trust and get the tickets sales flowing. We noticed that COVID-19 practices were said to be in place but in fact, the only part of the event that incorporated distancing from others was when we were at our table. Tables were spaced out and the waiters were all masked, but other than that, there were no other practices in place.

The outdoor event used a great deal of communication leading up to the event acknowledging the pandemic and all the things they were doing to ensure everyone’s safety, with promises of social distancing, disinfecting, masking of staff, and so on. With these pre-conceived notions, we gladly went out, looking forward to an event that clearly understood the importance of safety for patrons and the global issue at hand.

At the event, we were mostly disappointed with the lack of social distancing, especially since that was a big component of the pre-event communications from the organizer. It was a large event, and everyone arrived at the same time, so the entrance and bag-search area became a bottleneck, and the six-foot social distancing was quickly forgotten – by attendees and organizers.

Pre-event communications also mentioned that, since it was a live music event, dancing would only be permitted at everyone’s assigned tables, and only with their designated group. Instead, a dance floor developed at the front of the stage that lasted until the end of the night.

The food truck area was just as crowded as the entrance with people waiting in lines that tended to run into one another, so the social distancing was also abandoned there. At the end of the evening, most people left at the same time, creating another bottleneck situation that was averse to COVID safety practices.

We understand that our criticisms sound as if we’re taking away from the fun and not recognizing the COVID fatigue our city and province is going through. It was also during a time that restrictions were very loose by the government. However, our industry must hold itself to certain standards, especially if specific safety precautions were communicated to attendees prior to the event. Without safety standards – and not holding ourselves accountable to precautions we set in place for ourselves at our own events – trust is quickly broken. Trust between clients that expect us to be diligent about the impact events can have, trust between patrons that wish to come to events and expect to be taken care of, and trust between our vendors who anticipate us to provide them with a safe space to practice their skills.

It’s so important for us event planners to be thoughtful about and execute safety precautions at the beginning, during and at the end of every event we organize.

With cities across our province re-mandating the indoor mask rule, we are potentially on the cusp of another shutdown, or outbreak. We need and encourage all those in the event industry to use caution, communication and staffing to police rules when planning their events. At this time, we believe that we cannot have live events without full COVID-19 policies in place, for the endurance of our industry. For a more comprehensive list of ideas to ensure your event is covid safe from beginning to end, check out our Seasonal Event Guide.

– Your Tycoon, Steph XO