Tips for Hosting Outdoor Experiences in the Current Climate

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Five Insights on Producing Outdoor Experiences Amid COVID-19

Experts across the board have pointed to the lower risk of virus transmission in outdoor settings, prompting event marketers to tap into a fresh variety of outdoor venues and programming that allows for social distancing while keeping attendees engaged. But securing an outdoor venue isn’t always as cut and dry as reserving an indoor one. For more insights on what it takes to pull off outdoor experiences, we tapped a variety of sources for their input. Here, five takeaways.


continental-tire-watch-party_teaserMore on Outdoor Activations:

PANDEMIC RESTRICTIONS VARY

It’ll likely come as no surprise that guidelines on hosting events during the pandemic vary greatly by city, county and state, so you’ve got to be up to date on policies and procedures at the particular location you’re activating within.

“Every county, every state is different in what they’re requiring,” says Monique Rodriguez, director of sales at Rose Bowl Stadium, one of the sites hosting Tribeca’s drive-in series. “So it’s making sure that whatever venue a marketer is at, that you abide by whatever the county order is for COVID operations, and follow that to a T. Make sure that you’re in line with the orders and that you have a plan ready to go in place for how you’re going to make sure they’re all adhered to.”

 

PROGRAMMING NEEDS TO BE AIR TIGHT.

Before reviewing potential event venues, make sure you’ve got all of your ducks in a row. That means solidifying what activities you’ll be conducting on-site, how many people will be in attendance and what time of day the event will take place.

“As much as possible, think through event details before venue-hunting,” says Jill Lis, communications and outreach specialist at Denver’s Office of Special Events. “When event organizers haven’t solidified event details before reviewing venue options, disappointments and surprises are more likely to occur.”

 

EXPONENTIALLY MORE SPACE IS NEEDED

Ample space is paramount to adhering to social distancing orders. According to research by Thinkwell Group, pre-COVID personal space totaled around 10 to 15 square feet per person. Post-COVID, that number expands to 140 square feet per person (or six feet between individuals). And for groups of three, the number swells even further to 200 square feet, and 67 square feet per individual.

 

PERMITTING DEPENDS ON A VARIETY OF FACTORS

Outdoor events require permits, but the requirements vary greatly depending on what type of event is being produced.

“It absolutely depends on the site and complexity of the event,” says Lis. “Will it be in a park or on a street? Will food and alcohol be served? Is the event free or ticketed? Is it a stationary event or one that spans many city blocks, like a parade or race? Will generators be needed? ‘Typical’ public events in Denver could expect to secure anywhere from one to 10 permits.”

 

HAVING CONTINGENCY PLANS IS CRUCIAL

The pleasure of experiencing the great outdoors can often be dampened by the unique challenges of hosting an outdoor event (think: extreme weather, finding power sources and the need for a more robust security plan), so having contingency plans is crucial.

“With the joy of being outdoors comes some tough variables that need consideration,” says Frank Fiaschetti, vp-experiential marketing at Eventus Outdoors. “The first, and most obvious, is weather. You can try and plan your event during the nicer months, but you never really know what will happen. It’s good to think though contingency plans and how different types of weather will affect your event. Rain is bad, but wind is worse.”

This story appeared in the August 2020 issue
Kait Shea
Posted by Kait Shea

Kait joined EM in 2015 and today enjoys her role as senior editor. When she’s not in reporter mode, rocking mermaid pants at Comic-Con or running laps at MWC Barcelona, you can find her at home listening to music and doting on her fur baby.
View all articles by Kait Shea →

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