In our last post, we discussed how Venues set the mood for your event. In today’s post, we’ll build on that, with additional ways you can make attendees feel more welcome.
Making your event inclusive
In order to ensure attendees will want to come to your event — and have a good time at it — you will want to provide the most inclusive and accessible space possible. This includes anticipating people’s needs and not leaving anyone out.
Some things that will make attendees feel like they matter include:
- Signage. If restrooms are not clearly labeled, add signage directing people around a corner and down a hallway. Make note of what signs the venue displays and note what could be better labeled. This includes signs for single- and multi-stall restrooms, diaper changing stations, drinking fountains, any rooms being used for the event, and any push-button door openers that might be hidden.
- Accessible entrances and facilities. Any time there are only stairs to get into a venue’s main entrance, it will make people with mobility aids feel like their needs won’t be met from the start. Provide as much info as possible upfront, including a map, if possible. You definitely need to let people know if some door jambs are too narrow for mobility aid users to enter.
- Inclusive foods and drinks. By providing multiple options that span many dietary needs, you will ensure everyone can find something to eat or drink. Have equivalencies for all main meals and snacks. Offer tea as well as coffee, dairy-free milk options, and let any ice for water/other drinks be added as needed and not as default. Asking people for their allergy info and/or dietary needs will guide your catering menus. Additionally, consider providing and labeling:
- vegan and vegetarian
- anything spicy
- anything containing common allergens like peanuts, soy, and shellfish
- Nonalcoholic drink options beyond water and juice; and consider providing mocktails for people not partaking so they don’t feel excluded.
- Customizable seating. Seating matters, especially for all-day events. Some things to consider:
- How comfortable are the seats your venue provides? What is their policy on renting more chairs or a different style if the venue doesn’t have enough?
- Are there reserved areas for people with mobility aids, and is it dispersed throughout, or only in the very front (craning-neck close) or very back where it is harder to see or hear?
- Certain sports and music venues only have seating that is bolted down, so you don’t have to worry about reconfiguring it. But you do need to decide where to reserve seats for speakers, sponsors, and any VIP guests.
Additional considerations for attendees
Letting people know in the event description and when they register that you will be offering these additions can make all the difference. If you are charging a sizable sum to attend your event, you will want to list all the ways that attendees are getting their money’s worth, and that the value is more than the cost.
Some additional offerings can include:
- Childcare available on-site, which is especially important for night and weekend events.
- Relaxation Rooms where noise is limited, and people can unplug and sit on comfy couches or pillows.
- Restroom Kits — a basket that provides gum, floss, breath mints, facial wipes, sanitary options, and more — added to all venue facilities
- Closed captioning for presentations, which can be projected as a side-by-side with any slides on a screen, or on an additional screen to the side of a speaker. This can be used in conjunction with a sign language interpreter as well.
- Livestreaming and/or video recordings of presentations, which is especially useful for events with multiple tracks happening at the same time.
- Dedicated accessibility lanes, which are parts of corridors and other common spaces that are reserved for people to travel through. These lanes aid the flow of traffic, prevent groups of people from stopping in a bottleneck area, and ensure less blocking of pathways for anyone who need to pass through.
Everything you provide attendees that shows you care and are interested in accommodating them can make your event memorable.
Think about what you can do to ensure attendees have their needs met. After all, it’s better to be remembered for all the things you did right than for the one thing that went wrong.