Hosting any kind of event requires planning and organization to ensure it goes off without a hitch. Following an event planning checklist can make this process less intimidating — but your old checklist might be out of date. If you’re planning a grand reopening event to celebrate the return of in-person events, then you need a checklist that keeps COVID-19 regulations and restrictions in mind.

Chances are it’s been a while since you planned an in-person event. Now you’ll have to consider extra details to ensure the event follows social distancing, masking, and other COVID-19 safety measures. This checklist can guide you as you decide how to organize a grand opening event that captivates your audience, works in the new normal, and keeps everything organized along the way.

Start with the event planning basics

As you begin planning your grand reopening, start with the basics. Taking steps to comply with COVID-19 requirements from the very start can help ensure things run smoothly down the line.

  • Choose an event type: Determine whether you want to host an in-person or hybrid event. While a hybrid event might require more legwork, it opens your event to a larger audience, including potential attendees who may not be quite ready for in-person events.
  • Work out the numbers: Research your local government’s current capacity restrictions to determine how many tickets you can sell. Many regions will continue to require venues to operate at a reduced capacity to allow for social distancing.

Consider safety risks and requirements

Post-COVID-19 events will certainly look different from pre-pandemic events. Your pandemic planning checklist should ensure that your event follows all current COVID-19 protocols. Look to these sources as you strategize.

  • Current CDC guidance: Consider the CDC as your go-to resource when it comes to COVID-19 regulations. The CDC offers ever-changing guidance based on current case rates and vaccination data, so you’ll have the most updated evidence to guide your event planning and safety protocols.
  • Local guidance: Your local or state government likely also has COVID-19 regulations in place, including specific guidelines for large events. Review these guidelines carefully to ensure your event adheres to all regulations.
  • Input from participants: Get a sense of your participants’ comfort level by sending out a pre-event survey. The results can give you important insight into the safety features you need to have in place to ensure the most participants are willing to attend.
  • The Eventbrite Event Industry Report: This report is regularly updated with information about regulations, industry trends, and more.

Design your budget

Develop a rough budget for your event so that you’re prepared for both expected and unexpected costs. If you’re unsure where to start, follow these tips:

  • Review your previous event budget as a baseline: If you haven’t hosted an in-person event lately, then you may need to refresh your budget template. You can use the old version as a baseline, but you’ll need to account for changes like increased materials costs, venue costs, etc.
  • Make educated guesses about new expenses: Remember that COVID-19 safety precautions will require some investment. For example, you might need to purchase PPE for anyone working the event, or you may have extra expenses for cleaning supplies.
  • Include a cushion for unexpected expenses: It’s smart to build in a little extra budget for unexpected costs, like last-minute changes to the signage or extra hours for the cleaning crew.

Choose your event date and location

Now that you’re familiar with COVID-19 regulations and have a rough budget in place, you can dive into the details.

  • Venue: Shop around for the right venue for your event. Remember that your favorite venue might be operating under different regulations right now, so take note of the venue’s new event guidelines to ensure it’s appropriate for your grand opening event.
  • Event date: Ensure your date works for your venue and your participants. If you want to extend your event capacity or if guests prefer an outdoor event, then choose the date with the weather in mind. While you can’t control the forecast, you can increase your chances of good weather by checking past climate information for your region.

Recruit your event team

The date is set and the venue’s booked. Now, you’re ready to recruit a team to make your grand reopening a success.

  • Volunteers and workers: Whether you’re looking for some free help for a charity event or plan to pay your staff, you’ll need to build a team of people dedicated to helping your event go off without a hitch. Reach out to previous volunteers and event workers to check their availability first, and encourage them to recommend colleagues who might want to help as well.
  • Speakers: If necessary, find a keynote speaker for your event. When looking for speakers, consider any hesitancy that individuals may have as a result of COVID-19. Some speakers may not want to travel, so you can choose to book someone local or arrange for livestreaming.
  • Security: Find out if your event venue provides security. If not, find your own. A security team can be especially helpful for enforcing COVID-19 rules like masking and distancing.

Market your event

Generate interest in your event by publicizing it through a variety of channels with these tips.

  • Distribute event information to past attendees: Inform previous event-goers that you’re back by sending them a grand reopening event invitation. A personalized email or note will engage this loyal audience and help boost sales.
  • Post details on your social channels: Spread the word on social media so that you can reach new event-goers who might be excited to resume in-person events after a year or more of virtual events.
  • Share safety requirements: Make sure guests feel safe about purchasing a ticket by sharing your COVID-19 safety plan upfront. Most guests will be more at ease if they know what to expect and understand that you take COVID-19 seriously.

Sell tickets

Keep COVID-19 precautions in mind as you get ready to sell tickets to your event.

  • Consider a refund policy: Event-goers might be more willing to purchase tickets when they know they can get a refund if conditions or their availability change.
  • Set your price based on capacity restrictions: Chances are you’re going to be hosting a smaller event based on your venue’s capacity restrictions. Set your ticket price with this exclusivity in mind.
  • Offer contactless entry: Create a contactless entry option that allows guests to scan a digital ticket without any close-up contact with employees or volunteers.

Prepare the venue

Get your venue ready for the event while considering safety protocols.

  • Hang safety signage: Use event signage to remind guests to wear masks or stay 6 feet apart. Signs can also block off seating to ensure guests don’t congregate.
  • Map out the room: Create a seating setup that allows guests to socially distance themselves according to venue and local guidelines.
  • Deep clean: Thoroughly clean the venue before the event, and be prepared to wipe down frequently touched surfaces throughout the event.
  • Keep supplies on hand: Set up baskets with extra PPE for guests who may need it. Offer sanitizing stations throughout the event space.

Enforce safety measures at the event

Your event is here, and COVID-19 safety measures must be maintained at all times. Consider these steps based on your venue and local guidelines.

  • Check temperatures: If required, be ready to check event-goers’ temperatures before they enter the event.
  • Enforce masking: Make sure guests arrive with a mask and keep it on as your guidelines require.
  • Check for distancing: If guests need to stay separated, make sure they adhere to any socially distant seating arrangements that you’ve established. This may include not moving chairs around, remaining in pods, standing on taped-off lines, etc.

Follow up with guests

Send out a post-event survey to assess your guests’ thoughts on your event. You can use their feedback to make your next event even better.

  • Safety: Find out how safe guests felt at your event and what safety measures they would’ve liked to have seen in place.
  • Feedback: Ask guests to offer their feedback on their experience and comfort level at the event.

Looking for more inspiration? Discover how to grow in-person events during the pandemic and learn how global event creators are adapting to COVID-19.

A successful grand reopening event is achievable, even as the pandemic continues. This grand opening event checklist can guide you as you develop an event that maximizes guests’ comfort and safety. Check out Eventbrite’s COVID-19 Safety Playbook for Events for more guidance as in-person events resume.

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