Updated: Apr 1, 2020
It’s often referred to as “Sod’s Law”: whatever can go wrong, will go wrong. There are some things over which you have no control when it comes to event planning - terrorist attacks and natural disasters might seem a long way away, but transport disruption, medical emergencies, and even harsh weather can get in the way despite your best efforts.
The best way to ensure your meeting or conference runs as smoothly as possible in the event of disruption is to have contingencies in place. Obviously you can’t predict and prepare for everything, but when it comes to the most likely challenges, you’ll be glad you thought ahead. Here are a few tips for avoiding or at least mitigating the risks.
To most event planners this will be obvious, but make sure you have enough insurance to cover you for all eventualities. Look at your existing policy, whether as part of your organisation or any individual events policies, and check you’re covered for weather, flight cancellation if you have delegates travelling by air, and so on. If not, you should consider another policy. Event cancellation is obvious, but you might want to look into what could be offered by general commercial liability or travel insurance for your staff.
Vitally, check with your suppliers that they are all sufficiently protected too.
You should have a sense of where your delegates will be travelling from and by what means fairly early in the process - you can even ask these questions via your online event booking system to ensure you have an up-to-date list. Before the event, look into whether there are any suggestions of strikes, maintenance works or reduced services on public transport and look into alternatives you can propose to delegates. They might be very grateful to you for sending this information out in advance.
Cover your back
Check, double check and re-check every plan you make so you know it is set in stone - and make sure you get everything in writing from all the different parties you communicate with. Make copies of contracts and store them in different places to protect against loss or damage, and ask for clarification of any points in this documentation that you either don’t remember agreeing to or don’t understand. Confirm cancellation policies and what should happen if suppliers are unable to deliver. That way if something goes wrong and is not your fault, you should be able to hold the right people accountable.