American Meetings, Inc. An AMI Global Company

When Disaster Strikes: Leveraging Virtual Meetings

One thing that is sure in business is that change will happen. Neither good times nor bad times last forever. In the case of one of our clients in 2003, AMI had to pivot alongside them to make sure their 3-day Advisory Board meeting could continue. For the client, cancelling would have meant a delay in bringing an FDA backed product to market. Delaying would be a huge problem for the Fortune 100 pharmaceutical company.

Sixty high level executives were making their way, or had already checked into their New York City hotel when a major Northeastern US blackout occurred, with anticipated restoration several days out.

An immediate plan needed to be created to avoid losing the $250,000 event investment, plus the unknown yet significant costs associated with a delayed product launch.

AMI had been hired for full-service meeting management including travel coordination and had accounted for and anticipated the chance of an uncontrollable factor coming into play – after all, weather conditions could create a negative impact at any time.

Rather than been going into a downward spiral, AMI contacted venues, airlines, clients and attendees to manage re-arrangement details. The Four Seasons in Philadelphia was able to accommodate the last-minute change and arranged for ground transportation for the attendees who had already checked in. Luggage was removed from the hotel rooms, even though they were primarily located on or above the 30th floor, without power, and sent with attendees to the new location.

Flights for inbound participants were changed to allow for their arrival in Philadelphia rather than their original NYC airports. Because all the contracts were created with ‘force majeure’ clauses, our clients were protected from financial penalties on the changes.

The event, while it started bumpy, ended with little further disruption, in an appropriate and comfortable space, allowing the clients to achieve their meeting objectives and meet their launch deadline.

Virtual Meeting Options for Emergencies

The above example demonstrates the ability to be agile in the face of an emergency and keeping an event in-person. In 2003, the technology doesn’t exist as it does today for large scale virtual events and conferencing. However, moving to a virtual conference in the midst of a power outage also wouldn’t be a viable solution.

That’s why working with professionals who know the industry is so critical.

The bottom line is that in the face of an emergency, meeting planners must have the experience to anticipate and accommodate changes quickly and easily. Most of this happens in the planning stages and is backed by expertise- an invaluable resource in knowing what to do and how.

If you need help with planning an event, whether in-person or virtual, with the backing of contingency plans to prevent the loss of time, money and resources, contact AMI for more information and to get started.

For more information about Virtual Meetings, contact AMI

By e-mail: virtual@americanmeetings.com Or Call:  866-337-7799 ext. 8877


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