With more than a year of COVID-19 messaging under your belts, you’ll understand the importance of being transparent with your guests. However, it can be tricky knowing how to communicate the regulations that will be in place at your event in an informative yet sensitive way. After all, you want to ensure compliance without taking the fun out of your big day.
With that in mind, we’ve put together some handy tips for getting your COVID-19 event communications right. (Remember to stay up-to-date with the latest government guidelines before hosting any in-person event.)
1. Know your audience
The best way to gauge how your attendees could be feeling about live events is to put yourself in their shoes. You can do this by asking yourself the following questions:
- How confident will they feel returning to in-person events?
- What do you think might be their biggest concerns?
- What do they want to be told ahead of your event?
It’s worth remembering that everyone has different levels of comfort about events and hospitality reopening. Some may still be feeling quite anxious, while others are excited to return, so take this into consideration when putting your messaging together. Think about how the pandemic has changed your guests’ priorities, too. For example, they might only feel happy attending events where they know they’ll be able to have a full refund if it’s cancelled.
2. Provide clear information
So that everyone knows what measures are in place at your event, it’s vital that you provide clear information. You’ll want to set out what each regulation is and why it’s important – not only to attendees but to staff and vendors, too. If you’d like your staff and guests to show a negative COVID-19 test result before being onsite, discuss this with them way before your event, clearly stating in an email what you’d like them to do and giving them a chance to share any concerns. You could also share additional information like videos that educate staff and vendors about the measures they should take to help prevent the spread of coronavirus. Then when you’re onsite, make sure you have plenty of social distancing signs around the venue to indicate where guests should stand when queuing for food stalls and toilet facilities.
Don’t forget to explain to your attendees why you’ve taken the decision to hold the event right now and all the considerations you’ve taken to make it safe. Perhaps you’ve decided to hold the event outside in the summer to reduce the risk of transmission or have limited the number of attendees for an intimate gathering. By informing your guests of the reasoning behind your strategy, it’s more likely that you’ll gain their trust. The more transparent you are about expectations – for example, when they need to wear face coverings – the more confident they’ll feel about attending.
3. Keep reminding
From the moment tickets go on sale until the very end of your event, remind your attendees of COVID-19 measures at regular intervals. This includes pinning your guidelines to the top of social media pages, sending out regular emails detailing the measures, adding information to online tickets and event promotion messages, and putting up signage at the venue.
For inspiration, take a look at Preloved Vintage Wholesale’s pop-up clothing events. On their Eventbrite listings, they’ve set out all the rules – like staggered entry and social distancing – that attendees will need to abide by at their events. In the run-up to the big day, contact attendees more frequently so that there’s less chance of them missing your emails or forgetting about the measures.
4. Be timely
A good event communication plan isn’t just about what you tell your attendees, but also when you tell them. If anything about your event changes, like whether there are any new measures to abide by or if it has been postponed due to government restrictions, let your attendees know within 24 to 48 hours of you finding out. That way, it’s more likely that they’ll respond better to the news and will be in support of your decision.
Don’t forget to communicate any changes to your event via all your channels, including social media, email, and your website to reduce the possibility of your guests missing the updates.
5. Be easily contactable
Communication works both ways. As well as letting your attendees know about key information, they will also need to be able to contact you with any questions or concerns that they might have. Make sure that you provide attendees with a variety of ways to get in touch, whether that’s by phone, email, or social media. You’ll then need to have someone on standby (whether that’s you or another team member) to respond to any customer service questions in a prompt and friendly manner.
It’s also worth creating an FAQ page or support hub on your website or event listing that allows attendees to easily find responses to the most common questions. This will help them quickly find what they’re looking for and save you time.
6. Avoid guarantees
Nothing is set in stone these days, so consider including information about any backup plans and/or your refund policy to avoid taking attendees by surprise if there’s a need for change or cancellation.
Take a look at Rock the Park music festival’s Eventbrite listing to see how they’ve worded their COVID-19 guarantee. The creators have reassured their guests that if the event is unable to go ahead in 2021, their tickets will still be valid for next year’s festival. At the same time as providing important information, they’ve used an upbeat tone so that attendees remain positive. Their messaging also clearly communicates the hard work that went into event safety measures and that their guests are their number one priority.
7. Train staff
Communicating with your attendees doesn’t stop on the big day and is just as important onsite. Whether it’s a COVID-secure poster reassuring attendees that you’ve done everything you can to help make the venue safe or staff on hand to explain the measures to them, you’ll need to keep communicating with guests throughout your event.
That’s why it’s important that you train staff, including a security team if you’re working with one, in the art of communication. They’ll need to speak to attendees in a clear yet friendly way, telling them about the guidelines as they enter the event to encourage compliance. They may also need to enforce rules if necessary without causing disruption or guest dissatisfaction.
Communication is key
Empathy, accuracy, and consistency will lead to a successful COVID-19 communication plan. Don’t be afraid to repeat messages – after all, compliance with these guidelines is crucial to pulling off a successful event right now.
To take your event communications to the next level and create a pre-event safety checklist, use our COVID-19 Safety Playbook.