The changing world of events: health and safety

The changing world of events: health and safety

Scott Craighead spoke at IBTM Wired about the health and safety measures that have been developed by the International Association of Exhibitions and Events’ (IAEE) Health and Safety Task Force. In this blog, Scott discusses how the world of events might be changed by stricter health and safety protocols and how event planners can prepare.

Are live events getting health and safety right?

We have seen a number of events produced successfully over the last year, with the first large event being the recent Informa World of Concrete in Las Vegas. It will be important to take the learnings from these events to continually improve upon the health and safety measures. The IAEE’s Essential’s publication provides the considerations. The actual deployment of these measures is critically important for learning and for determining proof of efficacy. The industry is putting its best foot forward with a proactive, collaborative approach, and while engaging the infectious disease scientific community. This is illustrated by the large number of venues and individual exhibition and event industry professionals who are now GBAC certified (The Global Biorisk Advisory Council).

Will health and safety protocols be integrated into events in the future and how might events change as a result?

This is a big part of the conversation now when it comes to health and safety measures. Most agree that measures such as contactless exhibitor services and attendee services, and onsite registration and exhibitor orders, will have permanence. These are operational features that the industry had been striving for prior to the pandemic, and only accelerated by the pandemic. We must follow the evolving science to determine efficacy and adapt to the ever-changing environment and status of the pandemic.

How can a balance be struck between implementing appropriate health and safety protocols, and maintaining an enjoyable event?

I firmly believe this is possible. The health and safety, or duty of care, of your attendees should always be the priority. Exhibition and event professionals are experts at delivering dynamic and enjoyable attendee experiences and have what it takes to successfully implement and integrate health and safety measures, while preserving and growing the value of in-person events. Collaboration and cooperation between all industry stakeholders, including attendees and exhibitors, is crucial to ensuring this.

What health and safety measures have been developed by IAEE?

In the spring of 2020, IAEE formed its Health and Safety Task Force to begin formulating plans around the exhibition industry’s response to the pandemic. The task force has created three published editions of IAEE’s Essential Considerations for Safely Reopening Exhibitions & Events. This has been a truly collaborative project from the beginning, with committee members and contributors represented by various organizations; EACA for exhibitor appointed contractors, EDPA for exhibition designers and builders, ESCA for exhibition services and contractors, IAVM for venues, SISO for independent show organizers, Buttine Insurance for risk management, and Painters and Allied Trades and The United Brotherhood of Carpenters representing labour.

Most importantly, the task force has been advised by GBAC. From the beginning, it was our priority that any content generated by the task force have scientific backing. GBAC has been a key partner in our efforts.


If you’d like to watch Scott’s session from IBTM Wired, click here to join a waiting list to be the first to know when it goes live on YouTube.

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