7 Considerations for a Drive-In Event

By Hannah Hegman

The Stay-in-Place has been lifted and small group gatherings are cautiously allowed. We are starting to see the glimmer of light at the end of the tunnel back to live events. In the last 2 weeks, there has been increased conversation regarding Drive-In and Drive-Through events. With the warmer weather, slightly lessen restrictions, and a desire to connect – summer may be the perfect time to try this novel form of events. Here are a few considerations to think about as you plan your drive-in event.

Drive-In Event: Envision a drive in movie theater. Guests would drive their cars in and park to engage in an event experience. This type of event is more traditional to a live event with a true start and end time. Guests would most likely pre-register for the experience.

Drive-Through Event: This style is more fluid, cars would not park, but rather drive a designated route with activities and interactions along the way. This event has a larger window of event time and guests attend throughout the experience. Guests may or may not pre-register for the experience.

Considerations for the Drive-In/Through Event

  1. Registration Line: Your venue is now somewhere outside but instead of a registration line of people, you potentially have a back up at your registration of vehicles. While 30 people standing by a registration table is crowded, 30 cars could be a serious issue. When planning the “registration” or starting point of your event, ensure that you have planned plenty of space for cars to safely be out of traffic and have a way to engage while they wait to start. You also may consider staggering your start times to thin the crowd. 
  1. Timing: Timing is everything in a drive-through event, if there is down time and kiddos in the car, things could get stressful quickly – can you provide some kind of engagement in the vehicle in case of down time? Attention spans may be shorter too, so you may want to keep a drive-through experience to 20-30 minutes with a full program lasting no more than 45 for a drive-in experience.
  1. Food & Alcohol: While these kinds of events can lead to some really fun catering opportunities, steer away from anything including alcohol for the safety of your guests and any potential liabilities. Seek out a catering partner who is ready to innovate with door to door service and other fun ideas.
  1. Permits: Make sure you connect with your city to have a clear understanding of permit requirements for your event and be prepared to possibly need to get creative, and adjust your budget, to ensure you can follow any restrictions possible placed by the city. Your city may require street closures, vehicle intrusion plans, or other safety precautions.
  1. Sight Lines & Sound: With a drive in event, you’ll need to think extra critically about how guests can best few any kind of program or presentation from their vehicle and also combat the event larger obstacle of ensuring everyone can hear. Invest with an experienced AV partner to ensure your event space as adequate sound coverage and a team to manage it.
  1. Restrooms & Sanitation: While the goal of a drive-in/drive-through event is to mitigate guest interaction and keep them in their vehicles, you’ll still need to provide some kind accommodations for guests. Ensure that you have proper cleaning procedures in place to secure the safety of your guests.
  1. Safety: The safety of your attendees should be your number one priority. Whenever possible, volunteers & vendors should be wearing masks, particularly if they are interacting with your guests. Reduce contact by using grabber sticks to pass pre-packed items to vehicles and ensure you have an online platform to facilitate checking in and making a donation. 

We are ready to gather, and if it must be in cars, let’s make it really great! If the parking lot is now your venue, your guest’s car is now their attire – encourage them to dress it up! Not only will this add more fun and flair to your event, it’s great publicity for you. There are so many more fun opportunities – why not add a drive by silent auction? Don’t forget to take advantage of the outdoors where literally the sky’s the limit.

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