5 Ways to Plan for Weather Delays and Unexpected Travel Issues at Your Next Event

Tornado 2This Tuesday South Florida was hit with unexpected storms which included 3 tornado touchdowns causing massive travel delays during the morning rush-hour.  At that same time American Meetings was helping to organize a large, first-time conference that was impacted just as hundreds of attendee’s, presenters and vendors were working their way to the Ft. Lauderdale Convention Center.  Fortunately, our planning team has a few best practices that helped mitigate the damage the unexpected storm caused.

In addition to unexpected weather, frequent bad weather can be anticipated in many areas of the country such as the north east in the winter.  These planning tips can help any planner prepare for event changes that come with last minute delays.  Staying within budget is critical to our clients but these are some low-cost ways of making sure your event goes off without a hitch.  And when there is a hitch, you become the savior for being prepared.

1-      Book a Back-Up – Presenters and speakers sometimes arrive with tight travel schedules.  Therefore, it’s a good idea to speak with high-level attendee’s that are qualified to step as a backup.  This gives you peace of mind that the show will go on regardless.  An unexpected benefit is that you build good will with these individuals who will feel honored and who knows, you just might find your next keynote!

2-      Travel Early – If your main speaker or presenter is the events main draw you may consider bringing them in a day early.  This might cost an extra hotel night but will ensure they arrive with plenty of time to navigate potential delays.  The added benefit is that they may be willing to attend some sessions, meet attendee’s and build excitement for their speech.

3-      Monitor Travel – There are many travel resources that a planner can use to check flights in real-time.  Catching a potential delay ASAP will allow you more alternate options.  These websites allow you to set up alerts for you and your team.

4-      Be Flexible – From the beginning of the planning process the agenda should allow for flexibility.  Speakers, presenters and vendors should know that the agenda can change at any time.  With this expectation all involved will roll with the punches much easier when schedule interruptions take place.

5-      Over-Communicate – Everyone understands that meetings and events are living, breathing animals that require many adjustments.  Communication will ease everyone’s mind and will allow attendee’s and planners the ability to adjust as changes become necessary.  Meeting apps, text messages and website updates allow everyone ample time to adjust their schedule.

Change management is an art form for meeting and event planners.  Unexpected delays happen all the time so preparations are critical to make sure your event moves forward successfully.  Severe weather in South Florida impacted our first-time event this week, but didn’t stop the show.  Use these tips to make sure you’re not caught flat-footed when Mother Nature hits you with rain, sleet, snow or like us this week, tornado’s.

Happy (pre)Planning!

For more information, or help with a meeting or event, contact bd@americanmeetings.com or call American Meetings, Inc. @ 866-337-7799

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