Socially Distanced Events CAN Work Says North West Event Planner – Here’s How!

11th August 2020, 10:01 am

Liz Taylor of the successful event organisers, the Taylor Lynn Corporation (TLC), isn’t the type of person to let a global pandemic stand in her way.  Lock-down in progress and event business on hiatus, Liz invested time in establishing TLC’s sister company; the Liz Taylor Consultancy.  Sharing her thirty years of experience in hospitality branding, Liz quickly developed a portfolio of clients.  All with the same challenge; surviving the business squeeze of Coronavirus. For one client, Tatton Estates in Cheshire, Liz drew upon her event management experience by spearheading the hugely successful, socially distanced, Tatton Social event. Launched in the grounds of Ashley Hall this July. Here’s how it worked in Liz’s own words.

Some 400 people converged at Ashley Hall on the 19th July, at the first of Tatton Estates’ summer social events. It’s something I wouldn’t have dreamed to be possible just a couple of months ago but, getting back into the swing of overseeing a large-scale event was like coming home. After months of lockdown it was breath of fresh air for me – in all senses of the phrase.

This Tatton Social was first in a series of events at the venue every other Sunday, with fairground style entertainment, food trucks, drinks vans and stunning countryside walks.  With free entry and plenty to keep the whole family occupied, it is set to become a firm fixture in the region’s post-lockdown summer calendar.

On the surface, a fabulous family event. And in the background, my team were working at an even faster pace than usual to ensure the event met the strict social distancing and safety guidelines outlined by the Government.

So, how did it come about. One thing that the Tatton Estates have in their favour is outdoor space – and lots of it.  When I was asked to increase their brand awareness, and look for new revenue streams, I recognised that this was a massive asset, especially when outdoor spaces are now in such demand. Working with the owners in deciding to open-up the charming grounds to the public was not a decision taken lightly. However, it became clear that this huge space could be the platform to promote the Estate as an events venue.

If you are planning an event in these strange times, choosing an outdoor venue that’s much bigger than you would usually need are the two key elements that will help you to do it safely. So, venues with vast open spaces are in prime position. There is fresh air in abundance (which we all need) and plenty of options for event marquees, meeting bubbles, yurts and pods; helping to minimises any risk of overcrowding.

So, how did we ensure Covid-19 safety approval?

Firstly, we all ensured that we had a handle on the latest Government guidance. Tatton Estates owners wisely limited visitor numbers to safeguard anyone who comes along and provided access to hand sanitisers all around the venue.  As an event, it’s running at minimum capacity – but that’s something we will all have to get used to for the time being.  Signage – essential. Both human signage and physical reminders around social distancing, Seating is problematic, as it encourages large groups to gather in one area. So, we took steps to limit seating so that it’s available for those who need a rest, but not doesn’t cause crowds. We observe the two-metre rule between seats.

In terms of catering we also took everything outside. A ‘festival of food’ was the idea, with an eclectic mix of artisan foods and family favourites. Traditional fish and chips. Gourmet pizza. Spicy Asian street food.  A hot cup of Joe from the vintage coffee truck. And a fabulous double decker bus serving a selection of bespoke cocktails and soft drinks. There’s a huge choice on offer, and I can see that this will be an area that we expand in time to incorporate the growing army of artisan producers. Perhaps the number of food options is more than we would usually provide for the number of visitors, but minimising queues is a must. We ensured that there was lots of signage and clearly marked areas for diners to wait safely for their food, whilst keeping a good distance from other groups.

In organising a successful socially distanced event, entertainment is another area that needs good investment. Guests at the Tatton Social were able to take a spin on the dodgems, which were cleaned after every ride. Scenic walks across the estate were specifically mapped out for the event, so families and their dogs could enjoy the outdoors together without crossing paths with other families. If you’re thinking of putting on your own event, opt for outdoor entertainment such as scavenger hunts, old style fairground stalls and outdoor games, but bear in mind that there needs to be a good cleaning regime in between guests to minimise cross-contamination.

As well as delivering a successful solution to this client’s marketing dilemma, and raising the profile of the venue, we proved that a socially distanced event can work.  My message to companies, groups, individuals who want to put on an event, but feel nervous about doing so, is that it absolutely can happen. It has been successful due to exceptional communication with my client. They took a brave step in difficult times. It’s also all about meticulous planning and an eye for the details; something I am renowned for!

The Tatton Social will be repeated every other Sunday throughout the summer season. The next event will take place on August 16, 2020 at Ashley Hall, Ashley Road, Ashley, WA14 3QA. Entry is free and car parking is charged at £5 per car.

For more information visit: , and for information on Covid-19 measures being taken to safeguard guests visit:

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