Recently, Black in Events Network hosted an online event with Kimberly Corbin, co-founder and managing partner for Meeting Shields, LLC, the largest 100 per cent woman and minority owned full-service protection and emergency management preparedness firm globally. Corbin also has 14 years of senior level experience in the hospitality and meetings industry.
As we move into live, in-person events again, wherever you are in the world, what matters most is making sure you follow protocol and listen to whatever the government is saying, and to ensure your business follows those guidelines. Keeping your clients and the partners you’re working with safe is paramount, because the liability comes back to you at the end of the day, says Corbin.
The parameters (rules, regulations, policies, procedures) that organizations now need to put into place to ensure safety first requires doing an audit in the planning phase. “As planners, it’s not necessary to our job to know everything. We need to partner with an organization that can help with best practices,” when it comes to knowing how to handle rules and regulations regarding COVID-19 protocols.
Some questions clients ask, says Corbin, of these organizations that assist with the safety audit in the planning phase are:
- Do we need to consider apps?
- What about vaccine passports and asking to see proof of vaccination?
- Should we enforce the mask rule?
- How do I rearrange the flow?
- Should we test before entry?
These questions get asked in the audit phase, which is step one in the planning phase post-COVID-19. Phase one also includes asking yourselves what emergency plan do we now have in place versus what do we still need, such as: Do we need COVID-19 compliance officers? What is my accountability? The venue’s accountability? What is my liability if me and my staff aren’t protected?
Working with a partner and a collaborator will help get you back up and running and will help ensure everything is in order and you’re following protocols. Creating that audit process is the first thing to do with your team and then partner with a company that will allow you to put an action plan in place and tell you what the next steps will be.
These steps include deciding what level of protection you want – a little, medium, or complete. The decision comes down to “do you want to just protect your business, or do you want all of the things?” says Corbin. Having it all for your event means temperature scanning and COVID-19 testing, for example.
“The vaccines, and there are only four of them in North America, only cover about four to five of the seven strains of COVID-19 and the variants … so this leaves you and your organization open if you do not have duty of care statements put into place prior to re-opening.”
Despite having a vaccine, clients still have a duty to protect because of the variants that are still out there and because we just don’t know how that will play out. Even though things are opening up and people are getting vaccinated, we’re still putting attendees, staff, and ourselves at risk.
“The average event planner may not understand all these things, so having a compliance officer or pandemic officer on your staff, on your team, to work with you to know what those rules and guidelines and polices are is important, because they (the policies) change day to day to day,” says Corbin.
Planners have an obligation to stay on top of things, but don’t always have the answers, so collaborate with those who know more. The reality is that there’s a new layer of precaution planners need to take on.
You can watch the full event here: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=le8wIinWplQ.