Handling Clients’ COVID Concerns: Tips for Meetings and Events in the Next Normal

Handling Clients’ COVID Concerns: Tips for Meetings and Events in the Next Normal

By Natasha Tucker
October 22, 2021 | 3-minute read
Client Services Project Management Content Type Article Additional Options Content Level: Essential
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The global pandemic changed everything, including where we went, what we did and who we saw. Now that we are in a transition phase to the next normal, companies need to consider the best ways to reconnect with clients who have varying degrees of face-to-face comfort.

The information below highlights some tips from different companies on how they manage client and employee safety concerns at meetings and events.

1. Making the Most of Hybrid Meetings

One North American engineering company believes that hybrid meetings will become the norm. They feel that staff and clients should be able to choose whether to attend meetings and events face-to-face or virtually. For them, it not only assuages any safety concerns, but helps to reduce their costs associated with traveling.

They have also found that conducting meetings and events virtually means there is more room for people to attend, thereby increasing their potential audience. One tip they mentioned is that of careful camera placement. They suggest putting the camera on a table so it appears that the virtual attendees are actually sitting with other people. This makes them feel like they are really part of it, rather than just watching from the side.  

2. Using Color-Coded Wrist Bands or Badges

Having a way to indicate how comfortable you are meeting people at events is a smart idea. Using badges, buttons and wristbands is a fun yet practical way to self-identify how at ease you are with close contact. LMA Board Member Kevin Iredell, CMO at Lowenstein Sandler LLP, writes in his LinkedIn post that for their open house they provided color-coded wristbands indicating levels of comfort for physical interaction. This innovative idea allowed participants to say whether they were content with a wave, fist bump or handshakes and hugs.

It’s not uncommon for people to feel a little anxious about in-person meetings and events, especially if they have not been back to the office in a while.

3. Communicating All Safety Protocols

As a lot of meetings and conferences are held in hotels, they have to be especially transparent about all their deep cleaning and sanitizing, physical-distancing and mask wearing polices. The Fairmont chain of hotels states that caring for guests is their top priority. In fact, they take safety so seriously that they have partnered with top experts to implement new standards of safety and enhanced operational protocols and procedures. According to their website, these are among the most stringent in the hospitality industry. A guest services representative for Fairmont commented, "We feel that not only having sanitizing stations in main traffic areas but communicating what measures we are doing, helps clients feel more comfortable in and around our facilities."

4. Locally Sourced Individual Food Boxes

It used to be that cost, labor constraints, food preferences and sensitives were the thing to worry about at meetings and events. Now it is also about the health and safety around the food preparation and social distancing measures. This means that self-service buffets are no longer likely to happen. PwC, a global accounting firm, considers this an opportunity to source and showcase local products, delivering thoughtfully created and individually packaged items to clients' homes or to be collected from multiple locations. Another option is to have a boxed meal already placed on a seat in a meeting room or at an event so that contact with it is limited.

Key Takeaways

Client and staff concerns around COVID-19 are valid. It's not uncommon for people to feel a little anxious about in-person meetings and events, especially if they have not been back to the office in a while. To help them see the benefit of in-person connections it is useful to:

  • Remind them of the reasons to reengage and what can be gained by doing it
  • Consider your clients’ and staff’s levels of comfort and the best way to help them show that
  • Make decisions in accordance with local public health guidelines
  • Think outside the box for gift bags, goodies, lunch and dinner, such as artisan brands or restaurant vouchers

Natasha Tucker
Bennett Jones LLC

Natasha Tucker has worked in the field of content management, proposals and pursuits, account management and project management for over 20 years. At Bennett Jones, she has a national leadership role focusing on business development operations, tracking opportunities and recording data that predicts trends and provides insights to support strategic business development initiatives, marketing strategies and client management.