As an event planner, safety should always be top of mind even if your client doesn’t care or simply doesn’t understand the importance of being prepared with a safety plan just in case to ensure you host not only a fun event…but…a safe event. Imagine hosting a party in Minneapolis, Minnesota on the day Derek Chauvin is scheduled to be sentenced for the murder of George Floyd. Couple this day with high tensions and COVID shut downs, and now you’ve got a powder keg waiting to explode. This was my experience recently and we had to make some decisions that led with safety first.
As a planner keeping safety at the forefront, it is your responsibility to let your client know that hosting this event is not a good idea. Prepare your client for the worst and plan to make the best happen for them anyway. Go virtual with the event or cancel altogether. Either way, the client hired you to keep everything on point, so give them the benefit of your knowledge and expertise.
Focusing on safety protects your reputation. Let’s look at five ways you can plan a safe event every time you host a party.
Tip 1 – Audit Your Safety Process
Emergency management planning is a part of every event. Remember in school when you had fire drills or bad weather drills? The same applies here. Know the steps you need to take to keep everyone safe including weather-related, violence or unruly guests, health emergencies or any emergency situation that causes an evacuation of the party space.
If you don’t have a health and safety plan, consider this your first step and create your minimum duty of care requirements. This will include rules, policies & procedures, and any necessary tech to ensure the safety of the event.
Many venues are opening at full capacity with no mandated Covid restrictions. There is a difference between having no restrictions and having SMART restrictions. As the party planner, emergency management needs to be a part of your operational tools. Be smart even when the venue says that no restrictions need to be put in place. No restrictions can lead to a super spreader event and SMART restrictions can decrease the likelihood of that happening while giving you data to do contract tracing if it does occur.
Tip 2 – Pitch Your Plan
There are more and more wedding and private social events happening as the country starts to open back up. Brides and couples are attached to the emotions of their date or the venue space and are less likely to want to put restrictions in place. However, corporate events are slower to get back into full capacity in-person events as they understand more of the liability issues.
When you are pitching a client for a corporate or social event, highlight your safety plan to set yourself apart from the competition. It can be an overview, but make sure you are able to discuss the current health department and state level requirements to ensure your event is compliant. Don’t create a “doom & gloom” scenario, but show them you are prepared and an expert that knows how to navigate what needs to be done.
When the health department comes to you asking what you did to keep this event safe, you can respond by providing contact tracing, pre-screening documents, and other forms that allow you to host a safe and fun event that meets the safety expectations.
Tip 3 – Set the Right Tone
The right tone means setting expectations from the beginning that you want your client to follow. These expectations are explained by you during your meeting and then backed up by the contract you send them to sign. Two clauses you should consider in the contract are guest compliance and quantum meruit.
Guest compliance talks about what will happen if attendees of the party do not want to comply. Signage that says guests will enter the event at their own risk is a good start, and you should document that signage before, during, and after the event. If guests do not reply, state they can be forcibly removed from the party. This is where you as the party planner should understand that compliance doesn’t mean enforcement. You should have security for enforcement, and inform the client if security has to remove them from the event.
Quantum meruit is a Latin phrase that means “as much as is deserved.” This means that you will be paid for the work you have completed. If a guest is not complying with a mask requirement, for example, you can have them removed. If they refuse to leave, and your client doesn’t want to enforce the agreed upon safety plan, they are now in breach of contract because the contract requires compliance with all rules and regulations. Quantum meruit allows you to be paid and walk away from the event for your own safety and the safety of your team and vendors. Document everything in your process so you show the work you have done to be paid under this clause.
GIRLFRIEND TIP: I am not a lawyer, and anytime you make changes to your contract or require additional clauses, you should have it reviewed by a lawyer in your state to make sure it follows state rules.
Tip 4 – Do Your Due Diligence
If the health department comes to you to ask questions about your event, you can’t come back to them and say “Well, the state said there were no restrictions.” Remember those SMART restrictions we talked about? SMART restrictions are a part of due diligence like using legal waivers or FDA regulated products for accuracy. Some of the masks and shields you order on Etsy or Amazon may not meet the level of protection you need.
Being safe is a part of doing business. There are agencies you can partner with like Meeting Shields, to get your information set up and have the right compliance measures in your state. If you were buying a house, you’d get a realtor as an expert, or if you were going to court, you’d get a lawyer to represent you. The same is true for you as a party planner. Don’t try to do it all – instead have a professional that can help you examine the costs and get the right things in place for your next party.
Tip 5 – Use Both Paper & Digital
Evites are becoming more and more popular. If you are using these for your event, embrace your digital footprint and also send some of the pre-screening forms digitally. This will save you time and energy on trying to collect this information on the day of your event.
There are some instances where paper collection of information could be better, like signing off on a waiver at the door when a guest has their temperature taken. No one way of digital or paper is better, but both can be used to verify as guests are coming into the event space.
When you do your venue site visit, consider the entrances guests will use and how much time you will have to get everyone in. This is when you can determine how a digital response or paper response might serve you better.
Protect your client and their guests by first protecting yourself. Work out your costs–including insurance and liability waivers and build these into your packages so you are getting the coverage you need. If you need more information on compliance in your state, you can contact the company Meeting Shields to see how they can support your safety needs.
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