That bright light? That might not be the end of the tunnel, but it’s where the tunnel opens up to let in more light so we can get a better view of what the future holds. In the event industry, we are still looking for ways to safely bring people together through in-person and virtual events. I take the safety of my clients and their guests very seriously and spend a lot of time studying CDC and state guidelines for events as well as risk mitigation strategies. This month, I’m sharing my newest socially distanced event success story as well as the latest CDC and state guidelines for safe event planning. Why even start talking about events? Because as it gets safer, the human craving for connection is going to take over and I think we’ll see in-person events roaring back into the limelight. The pandemic has ushered in a lot of change in the way we organize and host events and some of that change may be permanent. But, one thing holds true – if you want to host an event you need to start planning well in advance. This is especially true if there’s an in-person component.
The Olea Hotel Offered the Perfect Venue for a Spa-lidayAs lovely as the above pictures are of the hotel’s grounds and buildings, it’s filling the venue with an engaged, festive group of guests that really transforms the property into something special. In the Fall of 2020, overwhelmed with the pain of senseless violence and injustice, coupled with the stress brought on from raging wildfires and a global pandemic, I decided to design and host an event to encourage healing for Black women. In a time before lockdown, I organized an event that took all precautions to keep the participants safe and within weeks, the tickets sold out completely. Masks were mandatory except when enjoying food or beverage. Traveling companions were not required to wear masks around each other and most activities were outside. Hand sanitizer was readily available throughout the venue and each guest’s gift bag held a personal hand sanitizer. The hotel’s rooms all open to the outside making it easy for guests to avoid each other and allowing for privacy if they were tired from the day’s activities.
Almost all Activities Were Outside in the Fresh AirSonoma is a stunning part of the country and we had beautiful views of wine country during our hike and tour on Saturday. The forecast was for rain, but it held off and we had an amazing time together. We arrived back at the hotel and spread out on the patio for a wine tasting hosted by African American female sommelier, April Richmond. The patio offered a view of gorgeous fall colors and was the perfect place to spread out as we took our masks off to sip wine.
Guests Were Greeted with a Stash of Meaningful GiftsYour guests may not remember everything they learned or did during your event, but they will remember the overall feeling of the event and how you treated them. This is where offering well thought out gifts comes in. Part of our weekend was spent in professionally-led workshops on Designing Your Personal Black Wellness and Self-Care Plan, so I included spa and self care items in their gift bags such as a scented candle, home facial products, and meditation items. Of course, gift boxes were branded making the whole event feel polished and professional… which it was!
The Food Was DeliciousThe food was seasonal, colorful, nutritious, and delicious. Friday’s meal was prepared by a private chef whose staff delivered first-class service as well. Having the menu settled and communicated prior to the event took that decision off the shoulders of my guests. We were able to relax and enjoy the meal and the fabulous conversation that flowed. Breakfast was served as room service in the guest suites to allow for social distancing and helped give a busy weekend a more relaxing and decadent vibe. Saturday’s boxed lunch was carefully prepared and packaged allowing us to dine together while well-distanced outdoors on the patio. Have I mentioned the wonderful views?
The Joy Was PalpableFrom the moment my guests arrived, there was a feeling of excitement. Many of us were so tired of feeling house-bound and this small group gathering was just what we needed. Combine that excitement with the yoga, meditation, massage, and emotional self-care workshops and we felt our joy restored. Hosting the event at a boutique hotel that we didn’t have to share with any other guests and making the self-care theme the focus of every aspect of the event, were pivotal to the event’s success. I’m searching for the next hotel for a future event. Lead time requires an early start to this search… so maybe by the time the world opens up again, I’ll be ready to announce the event. If you’re curious, yes, I can do a similar event for you and your guests. All you need is a vision for the event and an adequate budget.
Safety Guidelines for In-Person GatheringsWhen planning any event with an in-person component, it’s important to have safety recommendations and requirements from multiple sources – the CDC, your state, and your local government. The CDC continues to recommend that we avoid in-person events, however in a nod to reality, they also publish guidelines for safer events. This General Readiness Assessment offers a comprehensive checklist that will help you establish safety protocols for your event. You can find their PDF download on this page. If you live in California, the event or gathering restrictions vary by county, but all must abide by the four-tier system. Currently, if you live in Alameda County, you are in the purple tier and gatherings may be outdoors only with a limit of up to 12 people from three households included. San Francisco County is following the same purple-tier guidelines with the following stipulations:
- Each event must be a maximum of 2-hours long
- If food and beverages are being serviced you should cap attendance at 6 people from 3 households
- If there is no food or beverages you may have 12 people from 3 households in attendance.