Mother Nature has a way of reminding us that she is in charge. Chances are if you have worked in the meeting and events industry for a number of years that you have encountered some kind of extreme act of nature that rocked the pre-planning boat.
American Meetings CEO, Andy McNeill, has experienced that first-hand. In a recent article inMidwest Meetings he shared how an unexpected snow storm in Chicago closed the airport and changed the course of an advisory board. Click here to read more about McNeill’s on the spot recovery plan.
As meeting planners, what should we take away from that?
- Always be prepared.
- Expect the unexpected.
- Have a contingency plan for everything
- Be calm when facing the unexpected and set the standard for your team
- Be resourceful and helpful for all those who are there under your coordination
- Consider the needs of the attendees and be accommodating. They are often out of their element and depending on you to manage things
- Determine an emergency communication strategy in advance. Texting is an effective way to communicate to the masses in the face of emergency or upset plans
- Establish communication early, circulating updates and critical information quickly and efficiently
- Divide and conquer tasks for your back-up plan between your staff
- Utilize the expertise of the hotel or venue staff. They are familiar with the area and with local-practices and will work with you to determine next steps.
In general, one should take the time to learn about the areas where you’ll be holding your meeting. West coast and earthquakes; the east coast during hurricane season. Learn what is recommended by the experts. A good meeting planner should always be prepared; and seasoned planners have learned to stay calm in the face of adversity. Enter into your next meeting anticipating what could go wrong, because with so many working pieces, most likely, something will go wrong.
What experiences have you had with contingency plans and what were the core practices you took away from it?