During the past year, Congrex Switzerland has been monitoring the latest developments affecting the meetings and business events sector, which has been particularly vulnerable to lockdowns and travel bans. Following the initial disruption, we now find ourselves in a transition period marked by uncertainty as to how the events industry will reshape itself.
Congrex’s research identified key areas of opportunity and a number of emerging themes that are likely to become permanent fixtures in this industry. Their findings have been compiled in a white paper entitled “A New Landscape for Hygiene and Infection Prevention in the Events Industry”.
The paper discusses the foundations of a strategic approach to hygiene and infection prevention that can help PCOs, associations, venues, and professionals in the MICE sector fulfil their role safely and organise events that inspire and deliver value.
The first theme is a wider understanding of health & safety and risk assessment. Moving forward with event planning will require a conceptual framework that prioritises compliance with new health and infection prevention regulations, without disregarding existing occupational health and safety guidelines.
Event organisers will need to tackle the added layers of complexity stemming from a heavily regulated environment where multiple players are involved in the task of issuing legal guidelines that govern in-person events, from EU agencies to local authorities.
The wider scope of event health & safety compliance highlights the importance of close collaboration across all the sub-sectors involved in the meetings and events industry. Now is the time to start finding common ground with all stakeholders in order to work collaboratively towards better compliance.
Under the current paradigm, the understanding of risk assessment also needs to be expanded. The paper discusses several frameworks that can help organisers develop a more comprehensive risk and hazard prevention strategy by defining protocols at human, technical and organisational level. This is followed by a description of how to complement traditional and emerging approaches to risk management.
Another important theme is the need to document hygiene and infection prevention strategies. The white paper discusses how organisers and associations can benefit from adopting a structured written approach to hygiene and infection prevention. The goal of documenting the event’s strategy is two-fold: to demonstrate readiness and to inspire trust among attendees and sponsors. Main suggestions include:
– Creating a hygiene plan that documents risk prevention and control measures in detail.
– Developing a 3×3 risk assessment matrix, which classifies measures and actions into three categories applicable to the three stages of event organisation.
The paper’s last section has a practical focus and contains actionable suggestions on how to organise safe, compliant and engaging events. This section includes sample solutions taken from best practices observed during the past year. The suggestions can be applied to potentially risky areas and activities and may be modified to suit event size and venue characteristics.
Professional events play a crucial role driving innovation, furthering knowledge, and underpinning business growth. This is unlikely to change in a post-pandemic world, but certain theoretical and practical aspects of event management will need to be revised.
The white paper was written to help professionals in the business event industry gain a more strategic vision of successful event organisation in the post-pandemic environment. Download the full paper here.