As vaccination rates continue to rise and people return to their ‘normal’ lives, many event organizers and venues are thinking about how they can continue to protect the health and safety of attendees. Some organizers and venues have also expressed a desire to help promote the vaccination effort, as the more people who get vaccinated, the safer events will be.
A number of events, such as the HIMSS21 Health and Safety Hub that took place in Las Vegas in August, have required in-person attendees to be fully vaccinated. Similarly, some concert and sporting venues like Madison Square Garden in New York are reserving entire seating sections for vaccinated guests.
While the practice has sparked many debates in the industry and beyond, it is legal for events to ask for proof of vaccination or a negative test if they so wish. However, questions remain around how it can be enforced to keep attendees safe.
Here we explore the role event technology can play in helping event organizers enforce proof of vaccination to keep events safe.
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Clear communication channels
Whether you require proof of vaccination, COVID tests, health questionnaires and/or temperature checks, it is vital you inform your attendees as early as possible.
Your attendees need to know that their safety is being taken seriously, so ensure the safety precautions you are taking are clearly stated on the event invite, web page and marketing materials.
You should also make it clear through digital marketing whether vaccination is compulsory to attend, or if attendees will be segregated depending on their vaccine status.
Ways of enforcing
When enforcing proof of vaccination, health screening and/or negative test results, you should plan exactly how you will conduct this, and how you are going to keep each attendee’s personal data secure.
To decide the best approach for your event, you should take into consideration the level of staffing required, the budget, technology and the time needed to enforce it. If you are registering each person’s vaccination status on the door, you are likely to need handheld devices to do so. Similarly, if you want attendees to submit this information ahead of the event, you will require an online form or process.
You should also look at how you plan to store each attendee’s data securely to ensure their medical information is not leaked. A secure, electronic database to store personal information must be used and all attendees need to be made aware of this and consent ahead of the event.
For example, IMEX America, taking place in Las Vegas in November, is working with CLEAR Health Pass to offer its attendees multiple different methods of verification via its mobile app. Working with a technology provider like this can significantly improve the running of your event, allowing attendees to prepare ahead of time whilst offering a secure way to access medical data.
If you plan to separate vaccinated and unvaccinated attendees at your event, a form of attendee tracking can be beneficial as a way of enforcement.
Asking attendees to download a tracking app or use a wearable device when at the event can help you monitor this segregation and ensure vaccinated and unvaccinated attendees do not mix.
This can also be beneficial should there be a guest that tests positive, as you will have the data available to see who they came into contact with.
Providing alternative options
If you choose to only welcome vaccinated attendees at your event, implementing a hybrid event structure can ensure you still have something to offer to those who are unable to attend in person.
A hybrid event structure allows both in person and virtual audiences to engage and participate in the same experience and content. Choosing a well-integrated, user-friendly hybrid event platform is vital, and is something you should consider carefully to ensure your event is a success.
An effective hybrid platform should allow virtual attendees access to the same or similar content to live attendees and offer an interactive experience that allows for engagement and networking.
Post-event surveying is a great way to find out people’s opinions on how your event went, as well as their thoughts on only allowing fully vaccinated delegates.
This information will prove invaluable for upcoming events, as it offers greater insight into ways you can improve the process of providing proof of vaccination, testing and/or health screenings.
It is recommended to send surveys out to delegates via email as soon as possible post-event to get a good response rate.
If you choose to implement proof of vaccination at your upcoming events, it is well worth considering the role technology can play in ensuring things run smoothly.
Think about how you want to enforce it, if you want to offer unvaccinated attendees the option to engage with the event in another capacity, and ways to guarantee this sensitive data is kept securely.
John D’Adamo is head of US sales at VenuIQ.