In other words, does your event have a crisis plan in place? The first step for any person planning an event should be to conduct a crisis assessment. Without a clear understanding of the potential issues that could arise, it is impossible to devise any plan or response. There are a plethora of issues that could become problems. I will address some of the likely problem areas and a possible solution that could resolve them. This is by no means a complete list, there is literally no limit to what types of a crisis could occur during your event.
The first and what I have experienced as the most likely problem is a problem with the premises of the event itself. Broken AC to leaking roofs or even a plumbing backup can create a serious crisis during any event. Large populations of attendees and vendors can exacerbate even a small problem. It is important for the planner to consider these issues and ensure the facility management has a response plan and staff in place to address building issues. Ask questions about the venue: Will there be maintenance staff available? What process are in place to request help with a mechanical problem? What is the procedure that should something become damaged? Some thought should be given to possible loss of space due to unforeseen problems. Ask management if there other, unused spaces or equipment that can be employed if there is a problem.
The next likely problem area tends to be IT. Included under that technologies umbrella can be telephones, web access, the point of sale terminals and a variety of other audio and visual issues. A planner must ensure that there are plans in place to respond to a loss of web access and telephone systems. In today’s business environment these two issues are likely to be the most important to your guests and vendors. The days of handwritten orders are over and without web access, your vendors may very well be wasting their time at your event. Planning for a second way of communicating with your own staff and that of the facility are keys that need to be addressed well before the event starts. Procurement of two-way radios or personal phones to serve as a backup and can save the day.
Staffing is often a second-tier concern. That is until folks quit or call out sick the day of your event. It is one thing to have bodies available, quite another to have trained staff on scene. Transportation, weather and labor availability can all have negative impacts on your staffing model. Be sure to have back up staff arranged. Developing a relationship with a temporary labor agency is one way to give yourself some cushion. It might even be worth your while to “pre-train” a handful of temporary workers, just in case. It is also important to have a plan in place to cover for critical skills that only your staff may possess. Is there someone who can fill in? Does that person need some refresher training BEFORE your event?
Any and all backup plans you may devise are all one thing: Insurance. Taking steps to minimize risk and loss is what this whole endeavor is about. Limiting financial risks, reputational risks and personal risk to your staff, vendors, and attendees is a critical component to any crisis response plan. Check your business coverages to ensure you are covered in the event of a major incident. The time to make sure your event is safe, organized and protected is the final key in your crisis plan.
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