As another year comes to an end, we’re all still trying to carry on during a pandemic. It’s not where we wanted to be at the end of 2020, and it’s not where we want to be at the end of 2021, either. And now the question on every body’s mind is, “How much longer will we be here?” Unfortunately, we can’t answer that question because, well, no one can. But we can give you our regularly scheduled yearly update and an encouraging, “You’re doing great!” Because, really—you’re doing great. We can also say that, as of right now, events in 2022 seem like they’ll be similar to where we are now, at the end of 2021.
With more and more people getting vaccinated, an increase in outdoor seating even in colder months, and the rise of virtual and hybrid events, we are able to attend events. No, not every event feels like it used to. But we’ve stopped postponing weddings and we’re even attending out-of-town concerts. It may seem futile to plan for events in 2022, and we’re certainly not going to push any person or company to stretch themselves too far. But let’s take a look at what the experts are saying about the coming year, along with some ways to make sure events in 2022 are safe, no matter what the format is.
An Update on 2021
In our last COVID recap in late 2020, the experts were predicting a return to something normal-eqsue by Fall 2021. Now that Fall 2021 has come and gone, there were definitely parts that felt almost normal. Delayed music festivals finally happened, and sporting events had full stadiums. But wintertime means an increase in travel, seeing old friends, and heading indoors for drinking and dining. So what can we expect as one year turns into another?
Anthony Fauci, MD, the United States’ top infectious disease expert, encourages us that we won’t be in the pandemic indefinitely—but the more that we protect ourselves with masks and vaccinations, the quicker it will end. On the other hand, some experts are more optimistic that the pandemic is approaching the end. Scott Gottlieb, former commissioner of the Food and Drug Administration, said in early November that the end of the pandemic is in sight for the United States.
Looking Ahead to Events in 2022
How soon that end is, no one can say for sure. That’s the frustrating part for the event industry and Americans alike. But we do know that there are ways we can keep working together to end it as quickly as possible. Of course, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) is encouraging mask use and distancing when possible. And those who are eligible should consider getting the vaccine and any booster shots available. But what else can you do—specifically in the event industry? How do we make sure we see the other side of the pandemic?
Book Vendors and Venues Far in Advance
Whether you need wedding space or a caterer—calendars are filling up fast! As life is starting to feel at least a little safer, couples are anxious to finally tie the knot. That means some venues are already booking through the end of 2022. Yes, really! From couples who postponed to those who are newly engaged, there’s an huge increase in bookings.
And, of course, with venue bookings comes florist, caterer, DJ, and officiant bookings. You know, all the hard workers who make any event a success. So book your venue and vendors as soon as you can, as far in advance as you can. That way, you’ll have a better chance of getting your dream vendor. Plus, it’ll be easier to find an available date for all of your bookings.
Offer Virtual Options for Guests
If you’re planning an event, offer the option to join remotely. The event industry showed just how creative and flexible it could be during this pandemic, with virtual concerts and hybrid conferences. But just because some of us are ready to reconnect in person, it doesn’t mean that everyone is.
Thankfully, there are plenty of ways to engage and connect with your audience, even if they’re at home on their couch. You can live stream your event so they don’t miss a second. Or you can offer a post-event recording so they can watch it when they have the time. You can even have guests tweet or email their questions for live events, so remote attendees are still in on the action. The bottom line is that we have options for attending events, and those options aren’t going anywhere. Let’s use them for events in 2022!
Plus, you may find that more people actually attend the event when there’s an option to do so from home. Now they don’t have to schedule a babysitter, pay for parking, and interrupt their weeknight routine. It’s a win all around!
Follow Safety Guidelines in Person
Of course, if you’re going to have in-person events, safety should be your number one concern. And we’re not saying that because of COVID. No matter the circumstance, safety should always be your top priority. (Don’t worry, enjoyment is a close second!)
The CDC still recommends masks indoors for individuals who aren’t vaccinated or who are at high risk. You’ll want to give your guests as much room as possible indoors, too. That may mean booking a venue with a little more room. You can do this by asking what a venue’s seated capacity is, as compared to its standing capacity. It’s usually a lower number to account for chairs and tables, so guests will have more room. If they give you a range, make sure your headcount is on the low end of that range.
On top of all that, you can also require a negative COVID test or proof vaccination for guests who are attending in person. This may be the more controversial option, so if you’re at all concerned about guest feedback, simply stick to a completely virtual event!
Communicate With Your Guests
Whatever your event guidelines are, whether you require testing, masking or social distancing, tell your guests clearly and often. And we really mean often! Put a note on your event website, in the confirmation and reminder emails, and even posted around the venue. Everyone has a lot going on right now, and trying to remember the details of an event that’s three weeks away can be a challenge. So make it easy for them! If you have a speaker, MC, or host, have them make an announcement before the event officially kicks off, too. It’s easy to miss a sign, but harder to ignore an announcer!
As an industry, we’ve postponed a lot of events over the past two years. Postponing for a third year is the last thing we want to do! We’re ready for events in 2022, as long as we do it safely and follow the advice of the experts. For your event, that may mean a smaller guest list, more space in the venue, mask requirements, and even proof of vaccination. No matter how you proceed with events in 2022—stay safe, but have fun!
What events are you planning in 2022? Have you made any COVID accommodations?