woman walking through holiday light display at nighttime

How to host a socially distanced or virtual holiday event

In General, Planning Your Event, Tips & Tricks by Kat RembackiLeave a Comment

The 2020 holiday season is underway, and with it comes some new challenges for events and attractions. 

Some of our favorite seasonal traditions happen during the holiday months, but this year, the idea of being stuffed shoulder-to-shoulder at a crowded party or filing into a packed theater to see The Nutcracker just seems unrealistic. We don’t want to miss out on those traditions, but we’re all counting on event producers to come up with creative solutions to help keep us safe during our favorite holiday experiences.

Passage is here to help you do that, simply and at ZERO cost to your event.

In this guide, we’ll share ideas you can implement for:

  • Corporate Holiday Parties
  • Seasonal Festivals
  • Holiday-Themed Attractions
  • Concerts and Live Performances
  • Holiday Shopping Pop-Ups
  • Indoor and Outdoor Holiday Events
  • And More

We’ll cover three possible formats (click on the links to jump right to that section):

  1. In-Person Events
  2. Virtual Events
  3. Hybrid Events
woman wearing a santa hat and surgical face mask

In-Person Events

In some locations, in-person events are allowed and can be held safely. But it’s far from business as usual these days. Here are a few ways you can host your holiday events with reduced in-person capacity so your guests and staff can stay safe and healthy.

Contactless Payments & Check-In

No one wants to pull out a dirty credit card or a wad of used cash and risk sharing germs with your team. In-person transactions can be completely contactless with your Passage Manager app. We recommend using the $49 contactless + EMV bluetooth reader which accepts both EMV and Android / Samsung / Apple Pay transactions. Your fans can purchase merchandise, concessions, and in-stadium upgrades right from their mobile devices without ever taking our their credit cards or touching a payment terminal.

If you’re using Passage as your ticketing partner, you can scan guests in with zero contact. No paper tickets. No touching. Here’s how:

  • Ask fans to display their ticket code on their mobile device. They can even do this from behind a plexiglass partition if you choose. 
  • Hold your device over theirs and tap the viewfinder, which will display a green checkmark to let you know the ticket is valid. 
  • Remember you can also look fans up by name using our Guest List mode, and check them in by toggling the button next to their name in the app. This can be useful if you have a physical barrier set up between staff and fans that prevents you from scanning a ticket. 

Virtual Queuing

Virtual Queues are a necessity during this period of social distancing. They give you more control to manage the crowd flow at your event and help you maximize the (reduced) capacity of your venue without putting your staff or your guests at risk. 

Here’s how Virtual Queues work, in a nutshell: 

  • When guests arrive at your event or venue, they’ll be “checked in” to your Virtual Queue.
  • You determine how many guests you want to allow to enter your venue at a time.
  • Guests are notified via SMS text when it’s their turn to enter. As they enter, you check them off the virtual queue, allowing the next group of virtual queuers to be notified.

Guests can stay in their cars, a socially-distanced outdoor area, or enjoy your midway and concessions area while waiting for their turn to enter.

Timed Ticketing

Timed Ticketing is another great strategy to help control the crowd flow at your event or attraction by limiting the number of guests who enter during a given time period (we recommend one-hour time slots but you can customize them however you like!). You set the time slots and a maximum number of guests per slot. This will allow you to keep that line flowing much more quickly, to forecast the number of attendees before the event, and to potentially charge a higher price for tickets that get through the line more quickly.

Timed Ticketing can be useful in all types of scenarios: offer guests a window where they can shop in a socially distanced format or take their family photo with Santa – no waiting required.

Social Distance Seat Selection

When guests are seated, how can you make sure that each party has at least six feet of space between them? Rope off every other row? Or tape signs onto every fifth, sixth, and seventh seat? But what if a family of six wants to buy tickets and your seats are only in groups of four? It can give you a headache just thinking about the different scenarios you’ll have to calculate.

Families come in different sizes, and you want to make sure households can sit together, while sitting apart from unfamiliar groups. Social Distance Seat Selection allows you to do this dynamically and flexibly. When a guest selects their seat(s), the system will automatically block off a portion of the seating chart around them. It’s easy on guests and easy on you. 

Want to get started with Social Distance Seat Selection for your event? Schedule an onboarding call and we’ll set everything up for you!

Feet wearing Christmas socks cozied up to laptop playing a holiday show surrounded by festive decorations and a mug of coffee

Virtual Events

For the foreseeable future, most businesses will need to limit attendance at their venues and allow guests to stay at least six feet away from others who are not in their immediate household. While important for public health, these restrictions hamstring your potential revenue. 

Adding a ticketed virtual livestream of your event can boost your revenue and allow guests

  • Who are immunocompromised to attend without health risks;
  • Who don’t yet feel comfortable attending an in-person event to participate;
  • Who live far away to attend from their home state.

With Passage, virtual access is secured, so only fans who have purchased a virtual ticket will be able to view your game’s livestream from their device. You can use any streaming service to create your live feed, including Vimeo, Twitch, YouTube, or the Passage livestream platform. 

Here are some benefits you’ll enjoy when you create virtual access for your event. 

Instant Donations

If you’re using Passage as your virtual event partner, your supporters can donate to your organization live during your event. It’s simple, and requires only two clicks to make a donation of any size. All donations are transferred to your bank account within two business days, just like normal ticket sales.

Many events use the Instant Donate feature like a virtual tip jar. Even if guests have already paid for access to your livestream, they may still want to support the band, for example.

Live Chat

When guests login to your virtual event, they can chat in real time with other guests and with you! This is a great way to build community among fans, and to answer questions, troubleshoot, or just engage your customers during the event. You can use the live chat option to encourage donation support, check in with guests to see how they’re enjoying the show, take requests, or just about anything else you can think of. 

Hybrid Events

Hybrid events have the best of both worlds: you can achieve the energy and festive atmosphere of an in-person event and unlock unlimited attendance, allowing guests to tune-in from anywhere in the world. 

Multiple Access Types

No matter how safe you try to make your event, some guests just won’t feel comfortable attending yet. They may be in a high risk group, or they may live far away and be unable to travel to get to your venue. But a virtual option is accessible for everyone!

With Passage you have the option to sell virtual and in-person access to the same holiday event, at different ticket prices if you choose. We suggest offering a slightly lower price for virtual access because you can sell an unlimited number of tickets for this experience without increasing your costs. 

You can offer separate in-person and virtual tickets, or a bundled package which allows guests to relive the experience all over again through a livestream rebroadcast when they get home.

Add-Ons and Upsells

Use Add-Ons and Upsells to increase revenue for your event. These upgrades can include everything from extra drink tickets or concessions during your live event, to merchandise, front-of-the-line-passes, or even a virtual meet and greet with your headlining entertainment.

Ready to set up your holiday event or attraction? Schedule an onboarding call with our support team. We’ll set everything up for you!