The conference world has changed. Safety is the number one priority
We are all getting used to virtually connecting with others, including in meetings and webinars. Yet in-person conferences still provide benefits those virtual events can’t offer, including personal connections; beer, wine, and food tastings; local area events; and fun.
We at Zephyr Conferences have spent many hours talking to our hotel partners and scouring the web for best practices on how to keep you safe during a conference. We will be implementing these practices when we are next able to run conferences.
If we cancel a conference, you can elect to receive your money back or transfer your registration to the new date. If you cancel your registration, you can do so with at least 30 days notice with these options:
- Transfer to another Zephyr conference in the same year
- Transfer to the same conference the following year
- Transfer your registration to someone else
- If you have symptoms of COVID-19 immediately prior to the conference and can provide us with a doctor’s note, we will honor any of the above options up to the day before the conference.
Larger group gatherings are inherently higher risk than smaller group gatherings. We will limit our attendance at upcoming conferences to a size that can be safely managed. Please note this might mean we are unable to accept all registrations.
We all know that being outside is much safer than being inside thanks to greater air circulation and thus less exposure to a potentially infected individual. We are looking into outdoor venues for some of our 2021 conferences.
Advance Health Precautions
Attending a conference is similar to substantially broadening your “bubble” of contacts. Thus, if we can keep each attendee safe we can keep everyone safe. We will do this via the following:
- We will encourage our attendees to be extra careful during the two weeks prior to the conference.
- We will contact all attendees two days prior to the conference to inform them if they have any symptoms of the coronavirus or have been in contact with anyone they know is infected they should not attend.
- We will screen all attendees for warning signs.
- We will have a no-touch thermometer on site to take the temperature of attendees as needed.
Most of our conference participants fly to their destination and we are not in control of that aspect of travel. However, airlines are taking major steps to keep passengers safe, including not selling tickets on middle seats, extra cleanings, requiring facemasks, using electrostatic cleaning, and passenger screenings.
Our hotels are implementing extra procedures including employee education, increased sterilization, removing touchable items such as pens, reducing elevator capacity, changing food service, and more.
Conference Safety Protocols
This is the difficult aspect. What can we do as a conference organizer to increase the safety of our participants without ruining the positive effects of an in-person conference? Here is what we are planning:
- Hand sanitizer available on site
- No handshakes or hugs
- Eliminate handheld microphones
- Require masks during certain events like bus rides on excursions
- When possible, provide extra transportation capacity on excursions so each person has no one sitting next to him or her
- Secure excess conference space in meeting rooms so we space out attendees as much as possible
- Eliminate breakouts to allow each attendee to have his or her own seat for the duration of the conference
- No buffet meals or any situation with shared serving utensils
- Receptions and networking located in larger rooms or – when possible – outside to allow for networking with social distancing
As we recover from the pandemic, we do believe small conferences like ours will be the first to be allowed to proceed and will be safer than larger events. We plan to be as prepared as possible to hold our events safely while still having the amazing food, fun activities, and excellent content, they are known for.