As the world tackles the global effects of the coronavirus (COVID-19), marketers are dealing with the shock waves of organizers cancelling, postponing, or virtualizing their events.
Global events such as Mobile World Congress, Facebook Global Marketing Summit and The World Athletics Indoor Championships have already been cancelled or postponed. The uncertainty and sudden changes happening on a global scale are raising concerns across the entire events industry.
We have collated some of the best advice coming from both leading health organizations and event organizers so you can get the best return out of your events, whilst keeping yourselves and others safe.
Keep Your Hands Clean
We know it sounds patronizing, but washing your hands regularly is the most common recommendation from world leaders to health organizations across the globe.
As you attend and exhibit at shows, make sure you find time to wash your hands thoroughly, either at sinks or through pocket hand sanitizers. Organizers will likely be putting in extra sanitizer stations across their show floors so be sure to make use of these.
Typical show etiquette can range from handshaking to cheek kissing. As concerns are raised about the health risk posed by attending events that attract a global audience, such greetings are currently not considered the best behavior.
Many organizers are putting a ban on handshaking in place across their events. Avoiding close interactions is the easiest way to reduce the risk of contracting the COVID-19 virus and preventing it from spreading any further to others at the event.
From what health professionals understand about the coronavirus, contamination typically occurs when there is close contact (within 2 meters or less) with an infected person.
Some event organizers are implementing a social distancing policy that you should ask your team on-site to adhere to, as well as visitors. Key conversations can still be held but keeping an appropriate distance will ensure the safety of both parties.
Feeling Sick? Stay at Home.
Under current circumstances if you are feeling even a little unwell, you should refrain from attending or exhibiting at an event. Don’t let the pressure of targets or the fear of missing out impact your decision if feeling unwell. These are exceptional circumstances, the best way to get back to normality is to put the safety of yourself and others first.
Event organizers will not allow you to attend if you are sick or showing flu symptoms. With many event organizers requiring exhibitors/attendees to certify on-site that you have not been sick in the past 14 days in addition to partaking in a temperature-screening process.
If you have shown symptoms or are worried you won’t be granted access, see if someone else from your team can attend on your behalf.
If you're unsure of the health and safety procedures at your next event, make sure to get in touch with the event organizers for their own set of rules.
How Do I Know If an Upcoming Event Has Been Cancelled?
If you are unsure if any industry events you are participating in are going to be cancelled, postponed or virtualized this year, get in touch with the event organizer for all the latest information and advice.
If your event is affected by the COVID-19 situation, it is vital that you keep an open form of communication with the organizers. Lots of events are looking to postpone instead of cancelling so that exhibitors don’t lose out on investment.
Unfortunately, due to force majeure clauses, organizers in many cases are exempt from offering refunds on cancelled events. Even if you cannot get a refund from your event organizer, your airline and hotel might, so be sure to get in contact with them as soon as you know the status of your upcoming event.
Northstar Meetings Group is curating a helpful live list of cancelled and postponed events that you can use to track updates as they come in.
Who to Contact If You Are Concerned?
If you are still unsure about what to do amid the growing global concern of the coronavirus, please follow the advice of your local authorities and health care providers regarding travel, self-isolation and health and safety precautions.
Join Integrate on March 26th for a roundtable webinar on the impact on coronavirus and how Exhibitors and Organizers can respond. For full details click here.