How to beat the heat when organising events

Analysis /  / 
hot hot heat

Liz Taylor, CEO of event management professionals the Taylor Lynn Corporation, has sweated over the best solutions to keep your delegates cool, as the mercury hits more than 40 degrees...

The UK is experiencing red weather warnings and unprecedented temperatures this week, leading to services being shut down and talk of planned events being postponed.

However, if you’ve spent months organising a conference or business event, you’re not going to want to cancel it just because of the weather. So, what to do? Here are my top tips to beat the heat when organising a business event in the heatwave...

Consider moving the time

The weather is hottest when the sun is at the highest in the sky, right at the time when your event is likely to take place. It’s worth investigating whether an early start is possible - make the event a breakfast meeting that goes on until lunchtime and finishes with a light lunch.

If it’s a multi-day event, then take your cue from those in hot countries. Start early have a break or siesta during the hottest part of the day then welcome delegates back from late afternoon and early evening sessions. You might even notice that there are some extra social/networking benefits for this format. Finish with a light buffet and early evening drinks.

There will be some negotiation with the venue needed as this will have a knock-on effect to staffing levels, however hosting a safe and comfortable event, where everyone has the best experience is in their best interest. An event planner such as myself should be comfortable in negotiating the best outcome for all.

Relax the dress code

A suit and tie/business dress code are a sure-fire way to make sure your guests swelter if a heatwave is on the cards. So, it’s worth communicating that the dress code can be more relaxed in hot weather. Shorts, sandals, and short sleeved shirts should all be permitted – your guests will thank you for it.

Switch up the menu

Think lighter options with a cold starter and dessert for the warm weather. Avoid stodgy carbohydrates or you risk your audience dozing off in the afternoon sessions. A selection of salads, cold cuts and cheeses or vegan and vegetarian options like pittas with dips, falafel and hummus would all be great heatwave options. Fresh fruit platters make a healthy final course that’ll also help to hydrate your audience (and it’s cost effective too).

Serve a chilled drink on arrival rather than tea or coffee. You could keep the caffeine and serve it as iced tea or iced coffee or switch out entirely for fruit juices, fruit infused water or fresh lemonade. Access to water is going to be important for delegates so make sure you keep the supplies topped up throughout the day. You can serve it up in funky coloured glass bottles on the table, or in individual, company branded, water bottles that are reusable. It ticks the eco and ‘take-home’ gift boxes too. Also consider handing round iced towels for guests to freshen up with.


Expect disruption

Trains are being cancelled, travel plans disrupted, there’s even talk that the tarmac on roads could start to melt in some areas of the country. It’s likely that some of your delegates won’t be able to attend the event if the severe heat continues. In my view, you can do one of two things. Offer them a full refund or give them a fully immersive digital experience so they can attend remotely.

Covid has set many venues up for putting on hybrid events so we’re much more prepared for an audience split. The challenge is to make sure digital attendees receive the same rich experience as those who attend in person. Some events will offer staggered pricing for in person/virtual – this is one option. Others are taking steps to create ‘add ons’ for at home or in the office – including dispatching engagement boxes with delegate information and a selection of ‘cooling’ goodies to make delegates feel a real part of the event.

Brand awareness opportunity

From mini fans branded with the company logo to face spritzers and sun cream (if any of your event is outdoors) make keeping guests cool a branding and awareness opportunity. It’s an added value gift that will keep giving for both parties if the heatwave continues.

Avoid heat generating tech

Lighting rigs and state of the art technology will certainly elevate your event, but these high energy installations are some of the biggest heat generators and energy guzzlers. It may not be possible to completely skip them but you can scale back, especially during the bright sunlight hours.

Make the most of outdoor space

Conference rooms and business venues can be hot and stuffy at the best of times. Take regular breaks (more than usual) and ask people to completely vacate the room so you can let some air in ahead of the next speaker or workshop.

Even better, if there are shaded areas or a cool spot, you can take parts of the event outside. This is where venues that invested in their outdoor spaces during the pandemic will really come into their own. Tipi tents, marquees or gazebos without sides can be used to provide a shady retreat. In this heat, I’d always look to hire air conditioning units for a full marquee.

And how about the sunshine…it’s lovely on one hand but comes with risks. Why not offer a company branded hat and umbrella/parasol to all delegates to avoid too much sun?

Air condition as standard

As the earth’s climate gets hotter, I predict we will need to become more reliant on air conditioning, however unpopular that opinion may be. TLC does insist that all the venues we use have in built air conditioning and heating systems to allow us to adapt the temperature inside depending on the weather. Rooms will get warmer when everyone has arrived, so flexible temperature control is essential, and we monitor the temperature throughout the day.

Of course, there are a couple of other simple steps you can take. Choose a meeting room on the north side of a venue, it will be cooler. And ensure blinds are drawn and windows are open from early morning. Once you close them, the air conditioning should keep the space cool.

Cool treats

So, as you reach mid-afternoon, invest in some cooling treats for delegates. The value of an iced lolly or ice cream served from a traditional ice cream van will go a long way. Alternatively, iced drinks such as a bespoke slushie bar – where delegates can choose from exotic fruit syrups to infuse their iced drinks, will be a welcome break.

Written By
Liz Taylor
Reach Liz Taylor on
Liz Taylor is founder CEO of the event planners, the Taylor Lynn Corporation, and MD at Liz Taylor Consultancy, and has been at the forefront of the UK event scene for more than 30 years.

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