[white] Event Production have a close partnership with Severn Trent and have supported with numerous employee engagement events, often involving the design and production of experiential themed breakout sessions.
Since the start of lockdown, the CEO Liv Garfield had been keen to sustain momentum of employee engagement which has led to a variety of live streams or podcasts, all produced in-house by the [white] team.
The September Leadership Events for the top 900 managers, was aspirational to be as close to a typical Severn Trent event as possible even with current Covid restrictions, as the workforce looked to return more from home working and the organisation prepares to ‘Bounce Back Stronger’. This was to be a very important event for the executive team, but also an event that would be under close scrutiny from the Local Authority, the potentially wary audience and even the public / Severn Trent customers.
Given the lack of venues permitted to host events, and just two months lead time, this was set to be a very tall challenge for the [white] team to design, produce and manage all elements of the event.
“The whole set up of the day was incredible”
After extensive research into creative venue solutions, a decision was reached to hold the event on Severn Trent property as a half day event to reduce the audience size. Being blessed with a property portfolio that includes picturesque Visitor Centres at reservoirs, the option of Carsington Water in Derbyshire was promoted as the favoured option. The [white] management team attended an initial site visit to determine space appropriateness, including overspill parking areas, which identified a very prominent problem. Despite being a picturesque location, the size and scale of infrastructure required to stage an outside socially distanced event would heavily disrupt the popular public attraction and could lead to very negative publicity for Severn Trent.
The [white] team therefore found themselves in the unusual position of being an event production company, desperate to return to a world of live events, strongly recommending against staging an event. The creative cogs however continued to turn as the team left the site meeting as they strived to find a solution. The lightbulb moment came from the identification of spotting a smaller car park overlooking the reservoir which would be tight, but with a reduction of audience size to a more manageable ‘Covid safe’ size could just work, and so it began…
“It’s great being able to attend a COVID secure event”
What followed was a heap of simultaneous design and planning from the dynamic core [white] management team. Following site measurements for the creation of a full site CAD plan, the various zones were designed and plotted to ensure all could fit, in addition to the required site infrastructure and delegate car parking spaces.
[white] worked extremely closely with the Severn Trent safety and legal teams with the creation of an extensive Visitor Economy risk assessment that was scrutinised then approved by the Local Authority. The green light was given for a week of half day Leadership Events to include:
- 10 events each for a maximum of 60.
- Arrival registration check-in system, temperature checks and PPE and refreshments goody bags executed in a safe method.
- The audience would be allocated to a ‘bubble’ of 15 where they would remain (including catering and toilet provision)
- An arrival plenary CEO address with Q&A via Drive-In format with in-car audio.
- Transfer to the event site to park in 4 zones each with undercover spaces, toilets, catering and presentation area.
- Undercover tiered grandstand seating for 130 to allow socially distanced allocated seating for 15 people.
- 4 themed presentations that rotate around the fixed audience location – in a carnival travelling float style.
“Extremely well organised!”
Extensive attention to detail was paid to the Covid Safe site, not just from an audience perspective but also for all event staff and production crew. The production team were issued pre and post event Covid-19 test kits as well as all on-site staff being required to check-in via the bespoke site accreditation system with daily temperature checks. Signage, PPE provision and sanitising stations were implemented all across the site alongside standard site safety measures. A public cordon fencing line was erected and as the infrastructure was still visible the importance of informative signage and friendly staff members to liaise with the public was identified and implemented.
Additional site infrastructure for outside events was installed across the two sites, including temporary synced-power, full site Wi-Fi, on-site security, site vehicles, event chalets for offices / catering locations and segregated luxury temporary toilets.
“The feeling of getting back to business as usual is fantastic”
In addition to the site and H&S management, the [white] team suggested and sourced novel vehicles to transport presenters around the 4 separated fixed audience locations. Following on from the ‘Drive-In’ style opening plenary, complete with in car wireless speakers and TV style boom microphones for Q&A, a movie theme was translated across all sessions.
The rotating breakouts, where the presenters moved keeping their microphones attached but swopping out for a freshly sanitised transmitter pack and slide remote at each location, each had a bright outdoor 4.5m wide 4.6mm pitch LED screen and localised PA system. The themed sessions included a Back to the Future replica Delorean; a Moneyball themed Dodge Ram American Pickup truck; an Avatar utility vehicle and comedy dressed electric golf buggy; and an Anchorman style news desk setup on the back of a curtain sided vehicle.
“Best Leadership event I’ve been to so far”
The same attention to event logistics and audience interaction was paid, playing to our strengths of all things digital, with the use of a Wi-Fi based audience interaction quiz system and our popular breakout timing tablet solution.
Post event, the audience were sent an email with a link to an attractive and interactive feedback site created in-house that led to the following feedback.
- 100% of the audience surveyed said the event was well organised.
- 98% of the audience felt the event was ‘Covid safe’.
The entire event was a success not only in terms of the level of planning and attention to detail in the short time frame, but also as a method of showcasing that with the right client and some creative thinking, even the current Covid-19 restrictions need not prevent employee engagement or business returning to some form of normality.