In the new era (or at least, for now) gatherings have taken on a new look – if they’re going on at all. What activities can planners put together to maintain safety protocols along with camaraderie? That’s a toughie.
Smaller numbers will likely be the norm for a while, but there are still creative ways to bring people together – without bringing too many together at once.
Day 1: Get progressive. Can’t bring a large group together for dining? Consider splitting them up in to manageable groups, sending each – masked en masse – to distinct and separate venues for a unique course or experience. This could also work for single meals on individual days. By the end of the conference each will have experienced all three of your chosen restaurant experiences. This could be a unique opportunity for post-con social interaction, too (everyone loves to talk food). Consider building in a social media game with food posts related to the one-day progressive or three-day multivenue experience.
Day 2: Get outside. Is there a notable park in your destination? How about a riverwalk, historic home tour or walkable downtown? Find your city’s special something and bring your attendees out (perhaps in smaller groups) for a bike, scooter or Segway tour. Giving folks a chance to get some fresh air – sans mask if you can keep things small or spaced enough – will provide a great break from the meeting rooms.
Day 3: Split decisions. Team sports – or in this case, scavenger hunts – are always fun. It’s neat to see who rises to the top of the competitive pyramid! Again, break everyone into groups for a themed hunt (geocaching is a great idea) that centers on something relevant to a given goal or the association itself. Masks might be necessary but again – being off site and out in your destination will afford attendees a chance to get to know the city while getting in tune with the meetings objectives.
Engagement is the Secret Sauce
You may have a surplus right now due to COVID-19 – or perhaps a deficit due to unforeseen pandemic-related expenses. Either way, now is the time for buy-in when it comes to budgeting. That means getting everyone involved.
They all have opinions and a unique point of view when it comes to operations, and many or most will want to share them. Offering an open forum – with care in managing the process – allows the best ideas to grow wings as input from co-workers helps shape things.
Important: Set a schedule for timely completion, explain why certain ideas cannot be implemented, take inventory of the process on the back end so that the best practices you learn in Round 1 can be applied when budgeting time comes around again next year.
Photo credit: iStock.com/SDI Productions