As the state of Illinois begins to reopen safely, we are so excited to get back to business and gather with our valued clients and team once again! We’ve missed events, and we’ve missed seeing the smiling faces and the joy spread between friends and colleagues. Whether it’s an intimate at-home soiree for family and friends or a picnic to welcome your team back to the office, we’ve compiled some tips for hosting a safe meeting or event during COVID-19 utilizing guidance from the state and the CDC. We are applying these same tips to help guide our operating principles so we may gather again safely!
8 Tips for Hosting a Safe Meeting or Event
1) Create SOPs for Health & Safety
In the world of COVID-19, standard operating procedures (SOPs) that prioritize health and safety are absolutely critical—even for social events! A few SOPs that have been recommended are:
- Constant hand washing – set up extra hand washing stations around your event space that guests and staff have access to.
- Personal protective equipment (PPE) – making sure that everyone is wearing masks is critical. Some companies have even started to provide employees with branded masks for fun!
- Social distancing wherever possible – if not possible, mandatory PPE.
- Surface disinfecting – before, during and after the event, high touch surfaces like serving areas and guest tables should be appropriately disinfected.
- Limit restroom occupancy with no touch hand washing supplies.
2) Careful Venue Selection
The CDC guidelines are being updated constantly as COVID-19 recovery develops across the country. It’s key to follow the latest event capacity guidelines developed by the state and CDC. When possible, using open air and outdoor venues is highly recommended during this time. Our team of experts is also here to help you and advise on recent guidelines and fitting venues.
3) Get Creative with Event Layouts
Once you’ve selected the ideal venue, you’ll have to think about the seating arrangements. Event layouts during COVID-19 will look different, but that’s not a bad thing; it will just lend to more creative solutions! Think spaced-out lounge areas outdoors, limited seating for more intimate conversations at rounds, tilted seating arrangements so no one is directly in front of another person, families seated together at social celebrations and more. We’re seeing a lot of new solutions for event layouts that we can’t wait to share with you!
4) Communication Is Key
Ultimately, plans and procedures for an event are not useful unless they are effectively communicated pre-event to both employees and guests. Signage is critical, with plentiful signage to encourage social distancing and effective ways to wear PPE. It’s also helpful to include spacing markers at spots like buffet lines and restroom lines.
The CDC has a great repository of COVID-19 signage that you can utilize for your event.
5) Adjust Event Timelines
Timelines are critical for any event, but especially during COVID-19. The CDC recommends using creative timelines—you can stagger guest arrivals with a ticketed arrival time to ensure proper temperature screenings and less occupancy at the venue. The only thing you’ll want to make sure of is communicating the importance of arrival times to your guests due to the enhanced safety measures.
6) Consider Hybrid Event Solutions
Not everyone is going to be comfortable with events right away, and that’s okay. One solution many companies have been adopting is a hybrid model for their meetings and conferences. With this solution, those who are able and comfortable can attend in person, and those who are not able can participate from afar! Many companies are integrating their events with mobile applications from companies like Bizzabo or CVent so they can engage all attendees digitally, which not only supports the hybrid option, but also eliminates the need for paper and possible contaminants on-site, as everyone is utilizing their own devices to access content.
A fun idea we love is sending a boxed meal or snack gift in the mail to those who are attending virtually so they can taste a bit of the event from behind the screen.
7) Rethink Entertainment
While most think that dancing is a requirement for a fun celebration, that’s not where the fun has to end! Social distancing may have put a damper on the conga line for now, but there are other ways to entertain your guests in both social and corporate settings. Think a live cover band, a comedian to put smiles on your attendees’ faces, a cultural dance performance to fit your theme (outdoor luau with hula dancing, anyone?) or a magician that will keep your guests guessing. There are so many options for socially distant fun at events!
8) Explore Innovative Culinary Options
Every event will have its unique requirements, but we’re working with families and teams to craft menus that are inventive in the way that we’re serving up delicious eats while adhering to the new normal. For now, we are avoiding self-serve stations or displays to limit communal interaction and multiple food handling. By centralizing service or providing individually packaged food and beverages, you limit the opportunity for contamination.
A few creative options we’ve executed recently are:
- Box lunches for meetings on-site at offices
- Picnics where Tasty staff serves made-to-order cuisine for each guest straight off the grill
- Buffets or stations where Tasty staff serves each guest individually
Creative culinary options aren’t where it stops, though. Next up, we want to share how our Tasty Catering team is taking these practices into consideration to help you execute safe in-person events moving forward.
How Tasty Catering Will Keep Your Events and Meetings Safe
At Tasty Catering, the safety of our guests and staff is of the utmost importance. To ensure that we are operating safely with health in mind, we have gone above and beyond and incorporated expert certifications while crafting our standard operating procedures for post-COVID-19 events. The SOPs are updated as guidelines in our area change, and they place focus on promoting environments that prioritize cleanliness and sanitation, engaging employees in daily health checks and placing emphasis on prudent event operations.
Some actions we’ve taken include:
- Enhanced sanitation practices in our offices, kitchens and events that are led by certified sanitation managers who have been officially certified in sanitation methods for COVID-19 prevention
- All staff members are required to complete the ServSafe COVID-19 Sanitation Class
- PPE is required for all staff when social distancing isn’t possible
- We’re getting creative with event layouts to promote social distancing and adhering to occupancy guidelines
- Condiments are now individually packaged for each guest rather than communal
- Food is made to order by a certified sanitarian
- Plexiglass is utilized to separate guests and buffet items that will be served by Tasty Catering staff
- Each event has a sanitation manager on-site to ensure guidelines are being adhered to and everything is cleaned appropriately throughout the event
- And so much more!
On our website, we have a full list of the most integral parts of our updated safety and sanitation practices for you to see. This list will be constantly updated as local and national guidelines change so you can see how we are managing the world of post-COVID events in a responsible way for your safety. In addition, we know that things change. We are not charging any fees for rescheduling due to the virus, so you can book in confidence.
Are you ready to gather again?
We are ready and are remaining vigilant to ensure you and your family, your friends, your colleagues and your partners can meet face to face safely, without fear. We are ready to help you plan your safe event today. All you have to do is give us a call at 847.593.2000 or reach out online to get started!