As the QEII Centre gets ready to run events again from 1 October, Stuart Drummond and Jessica Blankson from the venue’s event management team, tell us how they are looking forward to getting back the buzz of live events and provide some tips on how to run an event with physical distancing.
What are you looking forward to once the Centre reopens?
We can’t wait to get back to the Centre and start managing events again, the interaction with our client and running successful events is what gives us a buzz and we have really missed this over the last few months.
Nothing can beat the experience and atmosphere of a live event, the hum and murmur of delegates interacting and networking, the quiet whilst speakers deliver industry leading and defining presentations and the delicious aroma from the catering amongst other things.
Not being at the Centre, has felt very odd as we normally spend so much time there! We like to keep busy and have structure in our days that planning and running events gives us, and it will be great to have this back as it has been a summer of uncertainty for us and our clients.
What reassurance are you able to offer clients about the safety of holding an event post covid-19?
We have found that clients have taken reassurance from the work that has been conducted as an industry over the summer to make venues ready and compliant for reopening. At the QEII Centre, we have been able to provide plans of the room capacities as well as videos and documents that demonstrate how events will run at the Centre. I think these have helped show clients the measures we are putting in place to keep them and their delegates safe.
We would encourage clients to book in site visits, to see the measures for themselves and understand the journey the delegates will be going on from coming through the front door to leaving the event. It will also help provide reassurance for their own health and safety and those of their staff, for example the installation of sneeze screens at desks. It will also give clients an opportunity to ask about some of the key measures that have been implemented such as cleaning regimens.
What are your top five tips for clients when taking into account physical distancing?
It is easy to forget but the principle of running an event is very similar to how it was before Covid-19, the main changes are the information that needs to be communicated to delegates and the way some processes are run such as registration. Our tips focus on pre-event communication and working with the venue to ensure physical distance is maintained:
- Eliminate lines and queues by pre-registering delegates
- Ensure your delegates turn up prepared to the event (e.g. know that they won’t be allowed in if their temperature is too high, if they need to wear masks and when they do and don’t need to etc.)
- Make sure you are aware of the capacity of the rooms you have hired and identify whether you need to move to a larger space
- Reduce the possibility for crowding, for example consider staggering breaks to control the numbers of delegates moving round at any time
- Have staff and helpers available on the day to manage the flow and ensure that delegates follow the one way one system on entering and exiting rooms
What questions should clients be asking their event manager when planning an event?
As this is new for us and our clients, we seem to be getting new questions all the time but there are a few common questions, which we would be happy to share:
- How many delegates will be allowed into the spaces the client has booked / in the venue as a whole?
- How many other events are in the venue on the same day and how will this work?
- How will the event space look with the physical distanced capacities?
- How many exhibition stands are allowed? How does this vary by stand type?
- Where can clients position staff/ helpers to manage the event? Will I have to adhere to the one-way system?
- How will the catering be served?
- Will face masks need to be worn during the event?
- What technology or options are there to replace handling items?
We can wait for events to restart and see all our clients back in person at the QEII Centre. It has been great to keep connected with you via Zoom, Teams and other platforms but nothing beats the feeling of seeing you all face to face!