Conference, Events, and Coronavirus: All that event professionals must know

Archan Dholakia
March 3, 2020

To be able to assist the entire event community and assist our diverse clientele who have invested heavily in conferences and events this year, we decided to post a simple easy to comprehend and facts only post on the recent Novel Coronavirus outbreak COVID-19.

The idea is to be of significant assistance to all the event professionals who are under any kinda dilemma about the present and future of their events, trade shows, retreats or conferences.

We believe that the event professionals’ community needs facts more than anything else.

Here is what you will find in this post:

  • Definition of Coronavirus according to major global health organizations.
  • How does CoVID-19 (Novel Coronavirus) spread?
  • Verified preventive measures that global health organizations suggest
  • How can you replan Event should it be prone to a COVID-19 outbreak?

What are Coronaviruses and CoVID-19?

According to the World Health Organization, Coronaviruses (CoV) are a large family of viruses that cause illness ranging from the common cold to more severe diseases such as Middle East Respiratory Syndrome (MERS-CoV) and Severe Acute Respiratory Syndrome (SARS-CoV). A novel coronavirus (nCoV) is a new strain that has not been previously identified in humans. This nCoV now referred to as CoVID-19 is what’s in the news for causing a global tension.

Coronaviruses are zoonotic, meaning they are transmitted between animals and people. Detailed investigations found that SARS-CoV was transmitted from civet cats to humans and MERS-CoV from dromedary camels to humans. Several known coronaviruses are circulating in animals that have not yet infected humans.

How does CoVID-19 (Novel Coronavirus) spread?

According to the European Commission for health:

  • While animals are the source of the virus, COVID-19 is now spreading from one person to another (human-to-human transmission).
  • It seems to be transmitted mainly via respiratory droplets that people sneeze, cough or exhale.
  • The incubation period for COVID-19 (i.e. the time between exposure to the virus and the onset of symptoms) is currently estimated at five to six days, ranging up to 14 days.
  • If people with COVID-19 are tested and diagnosed in a timely manner and rigorous infection control measures are applied, the likelihood of sustained human-to-human transmission, categorically in community settings in the EU/EEA is low.

What are the symptoms of CoVID-19?

People may experience:

  • Runny nose
  • Sore throat
  • Cough
  • Fever
  • Difficulty breathing (severe cases)

Verified protective measures that global health organizations suggest

Here are some basic protective measures suggested by WHO:

  • Sanitize your hands. The event venue can have organizers arrange tiny sanitizers be offered to attendees
  • Maintain social distance. Seating arrangements and space utilization on floor plans can be made to adhere to this.
  • Maintain respiratory hygiene. Event organizers can reach out to governments for availing of the information on the protective masks for coronavirus.
  • WHO has made the graphical media available. Consider putting them up at your event for constant vigilance.
  • Make sure to use all your communication mediums - Email, SMS, Social media, telecom, and print media in case of sending out any major.
  • Live track nations where the virus outbreak is confirmed and situations. Check if your event venue is in a safer zone.

How can you replan Event should it be prone to a COVID-19 outbreak?

Based on what we came across on digital media about Coronavirus and it impacts on the event industry, we could observe the following:

  • Events scheduled in the very near future, around March 2020 are being canceled. Events with large audience size with less time to respond to the situations are being canceled.
  • Events planned in next quarter but need more time to respond to the situation are replanned and postponed.
  • Events that are any further than the mid of next quarter hasn’t really taken any decision and are waiting to observe recent developments.
  • But there also exists the 4th option, to organize your conference digitally. But it is easier said than done.

Here is a quick list of activities that event professionals might consider doing before taking their events online:

  • Keep a check on the latest updates about the situation by following the WHO on Coronavirus
  • Take a legal and financial opinion regarding event cancellation for all the commitments made regarding bookings, insurance, payment policies for to and fro transactions.
  • Make an informal or formal crisis management team. Their job is to assess the situation and proposes an action plan, work on alternative resources and addressing other challenges.
  • Communication is key, keep a time gap of minimum of 7 days before you cancel an event and replan for a virtual meet. Communicate, communicate and communicate as much as you can to keep all registered attendees as possible.
  • Fix all the resources you require to host a virtual conference, send timely invites over email, messengers or phone calls.
  • Increase your acquaintance with the platforms you use. Let event hosts and speakers use the system and get comfortable with it.
  • Work on the experience of your attendees. Psychologically, when you switch from in-person to digital, attendees tend to anticipate a downgraded experience. Making your virtual presentations short, visually appealing and having room for viewers to interact with the presenter just like a live webinar can do a great deal of rescue to this collateral damage.

Most Important:

Follow verified and legitimate resources on this as below:

  1. Refer Event Industry Council’s recent webinar “About Coronvirus”
  2. AHLA: Facts about Coronavirus
  3. ASAE: Issue roundup: Coronavirus and upcoming webinar
  4. HSMAI: A revenue leader's response and the best action in a crisis
  5. IAEE: List of resources and survey to gauge worldwide impact
  6. IAVM: Stream the webinar recording and read blog posts on Coronavirus
  7. ICCA: Comprehensive resource guide
  8. IELA: Statement and necessary information
  9. MPI: Resource page and survey results
  10. PCMA: What business events professionals need to know about the novel coronavirus, resource page and EIC webinar recap
  11. USTA: Toolkit on Emergency Preparedness and Response: Coronavirus
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Archan Dholakia

Passionate about Marketing & Branding, Archan is an avid Lover of Social Media Strategy, Especially, LinkedIn. A Technology Enthusiast Loves to Write about Event Tech solutions, Connect with me on LinkedIn

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