Hurricanes, Volcanoes and Illness – Oh My!

No one really likes to think about large natural disasters or crises, but when you are in the meetings business it is never really far from mind.  Bringing together large groups of people involves a lot of planning and one piece of that process includes being prepared to managing crises.

Crisis at a meeting can come in many forms:, attendee injuries or illness, impending natural disasters, or even power outages.  You never know if a blizzard will hit Atlanta or a volcano will erupt in Iceland sending clouds of volcanic ash over most of continental Europe.  After years in event planning and production, teammates at TRG have experienced several crises, from hurricanes, to injuries and wide-spread illness among attendees.

Of course the first step in avoiding a weather related crisis, is to make sure the location and time of year for the event is usually free from major weather events.  Upon selection of a date, the TRG team works closely with clients for the site selection process.  While the key elements of site selection include space evaluation and overall functionality in comparison to the program, TRG is looking at other things, too.  For example, we make sure spaces are easily accessible for all attendees and we make note of emergency exit locations.  For outdoor spaces we make sure that there are contingencies for weather, such as tents, space heaters or if necessary, an indoor alternative if the weather gets too severe for outdoor activities.

When a large group of people travel from different locations and gather together, illness is likely to occur.  While some clients may strongly advise flu shots for employees, it is not foolproof.  Illness can spread quickly within a group, so having a plan for managing illness, such as keeping sick attendees away from group events or having hand sanitizer readily available, can help reduce the impact on an event.

Everyone wants to ensure the safety and welfare of their attendees, but there is more at stake for companies planning to hold an event.  If the company holding the event is aware of a situation that could cause harm to attendees, such as a severe weather event, and the company does not alter their plans, by canceling, postponing or changing locations, the company holding the event could be held liable for any injuries incurred as a result of the situation.

Having protocols in place to handle and manage crises is a good step for being prepared to deal with the issue when it occurs.  Making the decision to cancel, move or postpone an event is a big decision that affects hotel contracts, flight cancelations and travel plans for many attendees and crew.

As your meeting partner, TRG can help put together protocols to cover everything from managing illness at an event, to determining when it makes sense to move your event or cancel due to a natural disaster.

While no one wants to experience crises at their event, having a plan ahead of time can help get the event back on track and running smoothly.