10 Ways Planners Can Limit Their Risk

Whether you’re planning a meeting domestically or internationally, dangers are imminent. Here are 10 ways to limit your risk. Be wary of the seasons. Aim to avoid hurricane season in the North Atlantic (June through October) and tornado season in the Great Plains (April through June), says Megan Allday, global events manager for American Red Cross. Start with the contract. Agreements with the hotel, vendors, and event and conference venues need to be very clear on disaster operations and force majeure, says Allday. Vet your vendors. “We ask all vendors for a copy of their business continuity plan,” says Stuart Ruff, CMP, director of events and meetings at Risk and Insurance Management Society. “If they don’t have one, we don’t want to work with them.” Have a backup plan. Develop scenarios that include extremes like evacuating attendees, suggests Allday. Pick the right partners. If you don’t have the budget for an overseas site visit prior to an event, Ruff recommends developing a strong partnership with a tourism board or DMC that knows the lay of the land. Do a dry run. During a drill, “try using no cellphones or ones with low battery power,” says Allday, so attendees can get a sense of life without everyday communication tools. “Create a prioritized list of what happens first, then second, etc., and make sure everyone on the team understands their specific role and how to fulfill it.” Know your attendee. Before an event, gather information about emergency contacts, allergies, mobility issues and age, says Allday. Buy insurance. Don’t think about it; just do it, says Ruff. “It’s a viable solution and cost-effective way to protect your event, your brand and your revenue.” Get the message out. “A lot of times it’s not about the actual disaster itself, it’s about managing the media,” says Donna Karl Sakelakos, CMP, vice president of operations at Tradeshow Logic. Planners can limit cancellations and cities can prevent a drop in business if media is handled correctly. Write it all down. Take the time to put all your plans into one document, says Sakelakos. “If you have those basic things in place, whether it’s a little disaster or large disaster, that’s your jumping-off point,” she says.