Over the past few months, the Coterie Spark team has planned and produced several intricate events and conferences. Based on these experiences, we’re more certain than ever that The Wild West of Conference Planning remains in full swing, especially regarding mask-wearing and safe event planning.

Mask-wearing is a hot-button topic for everyone involved in your conference or event: planners, hosts, venues, staff, caterers, and attendees. That’s why we’re sharing some thoughts on how to better prepare everyone mentioned above for the road ahead in safe event planning.

Plan Early

Communication is a theme we’ve touched on in previous blogs, but it’s especially relevant to the mask-wearing debate. The only way to prevent or minimize conflict at your event is to talk with your guests — we recommend surveying them well ahead of time — to understand their health and safety preferences. You should also remain in contact should mandates or policies change.

If you decide to require masks, be sure to figure out where exceptions will be made and inform your guests of those unique circumstances. Confusion and frustration among guests is the ultimate experience killer, so make your expectations clear and sincere before they walk through that door.

Mask Mandates

No matter where you stand personally on the mask conversation, your event is likely to struggle with attendees either not following the rules or, the complete opposite, trying to enforce rules that you are not mandating. The good news is, depending on where you’re hosting, you can look to the local government to help decide if any mask rules are actually required or not.

If the local government doesn’t require masks or vaccinations, and the venue itself isn’t exercising additional precautions, then it’s important to make your stance clear to guests before they purchase tickets. That’s especially the case if you don’t plan to enforce masks at all. Be sure to communicate your decision to go maskless as early as possible. Not only will this shield guests who expected different health and safety protocols, but it will also entice attendees who were on the fence about attending, fearing the need to mask up the whole trip.

There are plenty of cities and states that don’t require masks for large gatherings of people. If you want your conference to go maskless, do your research now. You’re also going to want to poll your guests as soon as possible. It’s critical that you hear directly from them that they’re comfortable with a maskless event. If they give you the thumbs up, moving your venue to a mandate-free destination is a viable solution to consider.

On the other hand, if there are government or venue mandates in place, be sure to share that information too. Attendees need to know all the rules, so they can make an educated decision on whether or how to attend! Nobody wants to pay fines or have their event shut down because out-of-town attendees aren’t aware of the law. Again, communicate.

Limit Exposure

You can still find ways to prevent or minimize your attendees’ exposure to COVID-19 with or without masks. This is especially the case while eating. It’s important to be thoughtful about how you serve food as well as seat your attendees. Try to create access without congestion, and comfortable and friendly seating without people sitting too close to one another.

For smaller events, you’re going to want to plan additional ways to create space between guests. This can be as simple as spreading out panels and discussions, so attendees spend more time apart, or even holding events outside or in well-ventilated areas as the venue allows.

However you choose to tackle a mask-wearing policy, Coterie Spark was built with one purpose in mind: to make your event the best it can be for your guests in every way possible. That includes figuring out the most comfortable way for everybody to attend. Just remember, you have options for a safe conference whether you enforce mask-wearing or don’t.

If you have any questions or would like to talk to professionals about your best course of action when it comes to facemasks at your event, reach out to us!