Imagine this: On the eve of one of the largest events you have orchestrated in recent months, you receive a call from the caterer, who is in tears because their refrigeration system has failed and the food that they have prepared for tomorrow’s event is ruined. What do you do? With the right contingency plan in place, you should be able to quickly move to plan B.
Predicting the outcome of an event is like forecasting the weather. You think you know what’s going to happen — then it doesn’t. Unforeseen circumstances and non-evaluated risks are inherent components of the meetings and events industry. In fact, many of these inherent risks — if left unidentified, unchecked and unexplored — can make or break your ability to effectively handle crises when they occur.
Travel Issues. When people are traveling to the event from all points across the globe, it is essential to create a travel contingency plan. One of the biggest problems that planners don’t always anticipate is “travel curtailment” — namely, when the transportation system, such as airlines, go down due to weather, technology, equipment disaster or other reasons.
Depending on how wide the system is affected, arrivals will be delayed by hours or days, and in some instances attendees cannot get out of a destination to return home. It impacts meeting agendas and budgets in a big way.
Medical Emergencies. Having a medical emergency while on site is another issue for which meeting and event planners need to plan. A plan should be in place with the host property or facility, so that the closest hospital, on-call doctors or medics and ambulance providers should be reviewed prior to group arrival and understood by all members of the planning team. For both small and large events, more and more event planners are hiring onsite event medics — personnel who are hired for the duration of the event and are readily accessible in case of a medical emergency.
Weather-Related Events. Weather as it relates to outdoor events should always have an automatic back-up plan. Not only should indoor space be reserved where possible, but also event insurance should be considered in those instances where an alternative location is not an option.