We’ve been here before, just last year in fact. But what’s different is the hope for more in-person events. Also different is the uncertainty of whether an in-person event can realistically occur. So, if you’re still looking for guidance on a holiday or annual awards party this year or early 2022 here are three areas to consider getting the ball rolling now on planning.
Is it too late to schedule an in-person party? Well, November is usually the insane-last-minute month to book a venue and entertainment perfect for your organization; however, 2021 is certainly different than most years with venues and entertainment more readily available at this point of the season than pre-pandemic years. Many entertainers, including comedy improvisors, musicians, and roaming performers have been itching to get back to in-person events. While availability is there for in-person events this year, those may become slim when virtual event bookings begin to take over the calendar for some performers. When looking for entertainment, ensure the entertainers know your organization’s policies and preferences for facemasks and vaccine status, as well as those of the venue. You certainly want to book as soon as you can to secure the precious few weekend nights over December and January for in-person events, and those work-hour time slots for virtual events. Of course, an in-person event needs a venue if your plan is to gather the team at an off-campus site.
There are a few more questions to be aware of when seeking a venue. Be sure to ask the venue about staff availability, limits on attendees, and any catering or food-serving requirements due to Covid safety concerns. Most importantly if you have an in-person party approved by your organization, ensure you have an open conversation about your organization’s health-related requirements and those of the venue and any local orders that may be in place. Remember, all these conversations extend to any entertainment you book as well.
What can I do if all that hard work led to a cancelled in-person party? Many venues and entertainers have been understanding regarding the need to adjust or cancel events. Have an upfront conversation about cancellation policies and refunds before signing a contract. You may want to get in writing cancellations that occur due to your organization’s decisions and/or local health orders. Most importantly, you want all parties you worked with to understand what can and cannot be done if a cancellation triggers a contract’s refund.
Beyond the contract, a cancelled in-person party may lead to investigating a virtual party or small group parties. Depending on the budget for a yearly celebration or awards banquet, many companies have split parties into department or team celebrations. This is a viable option that was proven out by countless companies, big and small, in 2020 when virtual parties were the venue du jour.
Should you plan for a virtual party now? Yes! This seem obvious considering the answers in the above questions, but there are many companies still deciding what to do since they are either still working remotely or have a hybrid approach. No matter your organization’s policies, virtual parties are still a great way to get teams safely together, especially those with hybrid working environments or companies with employees in different time zones. Holiday themed game shows, improv shows, holiday mysteries, “video bombs” (a surprise character shows up in a meeting) and singing telegrams (a gift for someone?) are fun, interactive ways to share comradery this upcoming holiday and new year season. MBI can help you plan a virtual event for some of these options and with ideas you may have.
It’s not too late to plan your year-end party for December or January. 2021 has certainly opened options for having in-person parties, but with some cautiousness. It’s important to plan, communicate internally and to all vendors, and have a backup plan in case the in-person event doesn’t pan out. MBI has many options for in-person shows, virtual shows and characters to celebrate the way you need, let us know what you’re interested in doing for your team or company and have a safe and happy holiday season!