We need to view these regulations as a challenge to our creativity and ingenuity and, because meetings for up to 30 people are permitted, there is plenty of scope.
First, let’s look on the bright side; according to venuedirectory.com, 73 per cent of the meetings booked in the UK each year are for less than 30 people. Indeed, last year etc.venues hosted 19,000 meetings for no more than 20 people across the UK. This is a good proportion of the £70bn industry that we can still facilitate and alot of meetings that can still happen within the regulations – we just have to persuade corporate and public organisations to hold them. The cross-industry initiative Meet Safe Meet Smart spearheaded by the HBAA to shine a positive light on the events for 30 that are already happening is a great start.
For larger events we simply have to be imaginative. For instance, when we held the UKickstart event recently, we had nearly 70 people taking part ‘live’ in County Hall joined by over 200 in-person attendees across 12 locations. At both County Hall and Tobacco Dock, the two venues with multiple groups, separate rooms hosted separated groups of up to 30 and showed the live sessions. We will be repeating this arrangement with the Strategic Meetings Summit London at County Hall in November. The Events Marketing Association, which is also planning a LIVE event to showcase to corporates the Hybrid solutions and the innovations our industry has made, could do the same – there is no need to limit the numbers.
Simply - if you have a company or association meeting of 300 for January (or before) you can run this safely and legally. Select a venue with 10 rooms for 30 and connect groups to the content using a Hybrid technology platform. It may even be more enjoyable for the participants – after all unless you are a serial networker you don’t talk to more than 30 people at an event. At UKickstart we noticed there was more interaction and networking in the smaller groups– everyone spoke to everyone.
An outdoor rock music festival in Switzerland also maximised its attendance by dividing its fields with fencing and having separate entrances, bars and staff who were kept apart from those in other areas. Cinemas are open and allowed audiences of more than 30; could conference speakers and panels be broadcast from a studio on to the big screens?
These are just a few ways that event organisers can run a meeting of up to 300. We know because we are already doing it.
This is an industry that prides itself on its creativity. Let’s take a positive attitude to the situation, look closely at the rules on what we can do and continue to come up with imaginative solutions to keep the meetings and events industry alive until we can operate freely once more.