Hygiene and Infection Prevention for Business Events: challenges and conceptual framework to propel the events sector forward post-pandemic. It would be an understatement to say that the events of 2020 took the business event and meeting industry by storm. According to surveys, more than 80 million event attendees worldwide were affected by cancellations or postponements.
In this scenario, event organisers and venue managers have raced against the clock to redesign meetings in ways that deliver value to attendees and comply with new health and infection prevention regulations. While the general consensus is that professional events and conferences will continue to take place in late 2021 and beyond, the question is what’s next for this industry and what will it take for it to rebound.
At Congrex Switzerland we have been closely following the latest developments and our understanding is that hygiene and infection protection compliance will be essential for our industry recovery. Our team has recently published a white paper describing the challenges that lie ahead, as well as the conceptual and practical framework that can propel the events sector forward in full compliance. This post summarises the main points discussed in the white paper, which you can download in full here:
A Complex Regulatory Environment Requires Direct Involvement & Collaboration
Adherence to health and safety regulations was already part of event organisation before 2020. All events had to comply with occupational health and safety guidelines, often applicable to leisure and hospitality sectors too. However, over the past few months we have witnessed a qualitative change in the scope of health and safety compliance at events:
1. An increasingly complex regulatory environment where many jurisdictions are involved in issuing mandates and guidelines, ranging from supra-national (EU level) to municipal authorities.
2. Responsibility for the implementation of existing and new guidelines has been extended beyond the usual players (travel agents, hotels, catering companies, etc.). Although this still applies, event organisers are now expected to become directly involved in this aspect of event planning.
It All Starts with Risk Assessment
Thorough risk assessments will be crucial in the safe reopening of the business event and meeting industry. This means paying attention to new risk factors without forgetting existing risks and hazards typically associated with crowd management and venue safety.
The white paper draws attention to the importance of designing an updated conceptual framework that can be applied to event risk assessment. We outline traditional approaches to risk management where hazard likelihood and severity are useful starting points to determine risk levels and the nature of risk control measures. We then move onto additional factors that event organisers must incorporate into their risk assessment strategy, especially those related to the changing epidemiological situation at the event’s location.
Hygiene and Infection Prevention Plan & Risk Assessment Matrix
Irrespective of the risk levels and measures adopted at each event, the current environment requires a systematic approach to hygiene and infection prevention measures. In the majority of cases, this means documenting the prevention strategy in writing, i.e., the creation of a hygiene plan.
The white paper describes what an event hygiene plan should include, with a focus on both preventative and containment measures. We outline four key sections every hygiene plan should cover.
Event organisers may also find it useful to approach risk prevention and control using the risk assessment matrix we describe in the white paper. The matrix outlines three types of measures to be adopted during the three stages of business event organisation. This matrix is meant to be used as a template and can be easily modified according to the circumstances and to the event’s characteristics.
Practical Measures for Safer Business Events
A solid conceptual approach to hygiene and infection prevention sets the foundation of post-pandemic events. But taking the correct practical measures is just as important, and in many cases, this is what many event organisers struggle with.
Recognising this need, the last few sections of the white paper provide a wealth of practical suggestions on how to organise safe and compliant conferences and events. The actions we suggest cover everything from technological solutions to venue set up and including event registration, payment methods, networking, etc.
Professional events and conferences are still essential to business innovation and success. At Congrex Switzerland we are confident that a more strategic approach to risk prevention will go a long way helping the industry recover. To be ready, we encourage you to download our full white paper here:
Congrex Switzerland is an internationally operating agency delivering customised solutions. This encompasses the overall organisation of conferences and meetings, including the management of hotel rooms and the strategic consultancy. Annually Congrex Switzerland organises approximately 45 events with over 73’000 delegates. Amongst our clients are international associations, governmental organisations and corporations.