In Person? Virtual? Or a Hybrid? How to Plan Your Meeting or Conference

With a loosening of travel and gathering size restrictions across the United States, a lot of teams, associations and corporate groups are ready to meet. But, they're not always certain of how to meet safely and where they should host the meeting.
Our veteran Beaver Run team has the experience to help you navigate these uncertain times and achieve your goals to gather your team either remotely (with your  AV/tech basecamp at Beaver Run), in person or a hybrid option.

Here's our updated checklist of how to plan a meeting in 2021, 2022 and beyond, along with some tips and considerations so you can host a successful and safe meeting:

MEETING CHECKLIST

3 months - 3 years AHEAD:

  • Determine goals and objectives for your event or conference. If needed, identify a theme
  • Determine your ideal number of attendees and then identify your minimum number to make it a successful event and your absolute maximum number
  • Check public health orders and current restrictions (if your event is in the next 6 months)
  • Identify potential dates 
  • Establish a budget
  • Solidify your organizing team or key stakeholders in your organization 
  • Determine if you're planning to meet in person, virtually or use a hybrid. For each of these, consider the venue / space that meets your requirements
    • If needed, conduct site visits for virtual 'basecamps" with the AV/tech requirements, a hybrid option or an in-person option
    • Check the venue's policies regarding cancellations or rescheduling. At Beaver Run, we'll work with you! .
    • Select your venue (we hope it's Beaver Run) and take care of the contracts and deposits
    • Set your room rates and organize other details (AV/tech, food & beverage, airport transfers, activities, spa discounts) with your sales contact (at Beaver Run - we can help with meeting space, rooms, activities, food & beverage and AV/tech)
  • Send your save the date
  • Begin planning on the meeting content and your agenda, which might involve securing guest speakers
  • Begin planning activities and events, such as ski days, golfing, a group hike, team building ropes courses or ?
  • Develop a risk management plan for your event if necessary

2 months - 1 year AHEAD:

  • Double check public health orders, travel restrictions and what's open
  • Prepare speakers and confirm their travel and rooms
  • Finalize all of your marketing and continue promoting RSVP's / registrations
  • Finalize your receptions, networking events, activities
  • Consider your COVID plan, policies and logistics:
    • Develop your policies for attendees, speakers and staff: Mandatory masks or recommendation or nothing at all
    • COVID waiver for attendees, team
    • Potentially use colored stickers or colored lanyards to indicate the comfort level of attendees with interactions:
      • RED: Means please maintain physical distancing. No hugs or hand shaking, please
      • YELLOW: Means ask me about my comfort level. I'm okay with being approached but please do not hug or shake hands without asking.
      • GREEN: Means I'm comfortable with hugs and handshakes! Let's talk!
  • Finalize all of your printed orders for banners, programs, flyers, signage
  • Finalize your promotional items ("swag" or gifts)
     

1 month - 6 months AHEAD:

  • Confirm attendee counts and rooming lists (if you have them)
  • Send out reminders to attendees about COVID policies, agenda, timelines, parking, etc
  • Check in with your venue/meeting space team to review everything again
  • Finalize your AV/tech and food & beverage orders, as well as activities, networking events, etc.
  • Finalize all other details - flowers, decorations, etc.
  • Ask about attendee discounts or benefits and promote them (for dining, spa treatments, on-site activities like bike rentals and more)
  • Organize the nice-to-have options for your attendees, including chair massages, extra networking events, in-room amenities (a welcome gift or chocolate covered strawberries), additional swag or gifts

A few days or weeks AHEAD:

  • Check into travel restrictions, public health orders, CDC guidance and confirm your COVID plan and policies
  • Confirm final counts
  • Review meeting space set ups, food & beverage menus and orders, AV/tech and all other logistical items
  • Get registration materials and all other materials organized (gift bags, welcome gifts for speakers, AV/tech). If necessary - ship materials
  • Host a pre-conference meeting and walk-through of your space (if need be)
  • Send reminders and last-minute information to attendees, including options for their "downtime" - such as discounts and recommendations for dining, spa treatments, activitiies (such as bike rentals)

DURING your meeting:

  • Enjoy your event and gatherings!
  • Reach out if you have questions or need anything

TIPS FOR COVID PLANNING


Here are a few tips from our Beaver Run team of how to host an effective and safe meeting for everyone during the time of COVID:

Create a "quiet zone" with plenty of elbow room:

It's even more important to create spacious, safe havens for attendees to get away from the rest of the meeting attendees. To check emails, make calls and to potenitally take off their masks safely (depending on public health orders and CDC guidance). During the summer, fall and spring - this can be an outdoor area in Breckenridge, Colorado. But, in winter, make sure to have a big enough space to provide physical distancing.

Have a COVID supply kit:

Bring extra masks, plenty of hand sanitizer and think about what else attendees might want or need.

Name tag signals for COVID comfort level:

Give your attendees a way to signal easily and quickly their comfort level with networking at a meeting. Think about adding colored stickers or providing colored lanyards that will help communicate each person's level of comfort with networking and interacting:
  • RED: Means please maintain physical distancing. No hugs or hand shaking, please
  • YELLOW: Means ask me about my comfort level. I'm okay with being approached but please do not hug or shake hands without asking.
  • GREEN: Means I'm comfortable with hugs and handshakes! Let's talk!

Re-imagine ice breakers and networking events:

Think about ways to introduce your attendees or help them to get to know each other without needing to shake hands or be in close proximity or if they're in a virtual setting. Trivia games, puzzles, virtual voting, virtual breakout rooms, an online chat to connect attendees (especially for a vritual or hybrid meeting).


Contact our Beaver Run team for more advice and help: groups@beaverrun.com

MORE INFO