Current Affairs

Events Made Safer: The Model To Follow

9th November 2020

This infamous pandemic certainly did not come with guidelines for humanity. Specific instructions on how to handle the situation arrived later for all business sectors through a trial-and-error approach. The meetings industry demonstrated once more its readiness to face any challenge as destinations started taking control of the issue at hand. Belgium’s region Flanders had a big part in the solution.

Words Vicky Koffa

In Flanders’ COVID Event Risk Model (CERM) event planners found the necessary tools to handle any COVID safety concerns, as mentioned in Boardroom’s previous edition. Developed in partnership with scientific experts, specialised researchers, EventFlanders and the Alliance of Belgian Event Federations, CERM uses coloured safety labels for associations as a reference by local governments when granting organisers permits for meetings. The Event Scanwebsite attributes a green, orange or red label to interested associations. Then the Flanders Model comes in for each event individually to make the appropriate adjustments in compliance with the imposed safety regulations.

Since its implementation, this safe approach has been met with great enthusiasm and support from the start by virologists working with the government, so much so that it got included in the region’s official protocols of culture and sport. It has become an essential tool for the professional preparation of safer conferences, created by the events sector and applicable to any sort of gathering. Thanks to its vast application, the project has crossed the Belgian boarders, as countries like Canada, Croatia and Norway have already expressed interest in adopting the same model. The only condition is that the application is officially done by the government of the country.

Success Case Using CERM

The COVID Event Risk Model has already delivered what it promises. The Royal Belgian Society of Dermatology and Venerology, when planning their 2020 conference, contacted Visit Flanders in order to put the scan to the test. Given the orange label the association received, meant necessary adjustments to the organization of the process of the conference. Therefore, a second meeting room was used, with real time relay. This allowed more delegates to participate in the different sessions.

Some presentations were also given twice so that the allowed number of people per room was never exceeded. Moreover, the exhibition space was never overcrowded and social distancing was fully achieved. The catering was done with an individual packed lunch that had to be consumed sitting at tables. Coffee breaks were also organised in different timeslots for different groups of delegates.

Worry-free Events Now And In The Future

Choosing Flanders as your next conference destination you are even more certain that your event will be as carefree and safe as it gets also from a financial point of view since the government in Flanders has created even more measures to support the conference sector. Associations or PCO’s receive funding when organising a conference, funding which is not to be returned even in case of cancellation of the event. Furthermore, companies which are experiencing a severe decline in their turnover are eligible to receive compensation for that loss, including conference-related companies. 

As the future of our industry starts now, Flanders is putting all effort to guarantee that the same corona challenges will not have to be met in the future by event organisers. The team made a free e-book on this subject, in which numerous industry influencers take turns fiving explanations, opinions, advice and tips for the future. Download here this unmissable resource for every association, PCO and conference organizer.

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