Handshakes, queues for buffet lunches and dinners, networking in a
crowded space...these are just some examples of social norms at business
events that are being reassessed in light of Covid-19.
With social distancing and health and hygiene measures set to take
centre stage, attendees’ behaviour when events are allowed to resume
will look very different.
Think devices worn around necks or on your person that make a sound,
light up or vibrate if someone gets too close, or colour-coded
wristbands, which allow users to signal their ‘social distance’
preference. Designed along the lines of traffic light colours, a red
band for example signals no contact, a yellow one could indicate ‘elbow
bumps’ while a green band shows that the wearer is prepared for closer
Other potential wearable solutions include the PounchPass, developed
by PouchNation Singapore, which provides wristbands for festivals and
conferences. PouchPass is a cloud-based, remote monitoring solution that
records body temperature via a wearable wristband and an app.
The wristband sends data to an app via Bluetooth, which is then
stored in a dashboard; safety checks can then be carried out on
individuals to monitor fever signs.
Stefan Lim, country head at PouchNation Singapore, says the technology could be deployed in a number of ways.
“Gateways can be placed across venues; when guests wear a wristband,
the dashboard will be able display the positions of each wristband, thus
also helping with social distancing,” he says.
Wristbands can also be issued to guests days before an event, to
check temperature levels ahead of time and the bands also feature RFID,
which can be used for cashless payments or for access purposes.
Ian Cummings, vice president of commercial at CWT Meetings and Events
believes colour-coded solutions may not gain much traction at events,
as some people may forget to wear them, while others may not want to
them or the wristband could end up being covered with a long shirt or jacket.
Wristbands that incorporate some form of technology, such as
contactless ones to pay for items, drinks or to gain access are likely
to prove more popular.
He anticipates that fully automated, pop-up temperature check devices
will also prove popular, while the use of apps is likely to increase.
Enabling delegates to meet and exchange details virtually at the
pre-event stage, so they can agree on a time and place to meet in a
socially distanced way, is another viable option.
“[They can meet] in person without so much of an emphasis on the
physical handshake and delegates can have badges with in-built QR codes –
printed out at home – that they can scan from a distance, exchanging
information without the need for physical contact,” suggests Fiona
Pullen, head of production at Invnt APAC.
She adds that as the industry returns to physical or hybrid events,
heat mapping technologies will also prove a valuable way to monitor
attendees’ movements in real time and therefore the numbers flowing in
and out of spaces, with respect to social distancing requirements.
With the likelihood that many events will continue to be hosted with
virtual elements, Pullen says the industry needs to devise creative ways
to share experiences across different locations at the same time.
“The senses play an important role here,” she says. “Think UberEats
for events where items available physically can also be ordered and sent
to attendees’ homes, or VR/AR experiences that immerse users in
highlights of the physical experience on a virtual basis.”
On the food and beverage side, Cummings suggests that exclusive buy-
outs of restaurants and hotels could work and anticipates a higher
demand for private dining spaces. Other options include socially
distanced outdoor activities like picnics or drinks where people can
meet at a distance and bring their own consumables.
“From a catering perspective, pre-ordering food and paying in advance
of the event either via the event website or an event app on-site will
help to reduce physical contact,” says Invnt’s Pullen.
She believes that physical networking will still be possible, but
suggests that planners need to ensure attendees are seated in small
groups and that furniture is positioned in a way that enables social