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Jill Stone

Your Meeting Matchmaker Fairy Godmother

In Case of Emergency, Read This . . .

in: Event Planning Advice


Meeting planners deal with all sorts of, what we might call, “everyday emergencies.” The weather can cause plane delays, the printer failed to print up handouts, one of your team member falls ill, and on and on and on. For such things, we always seem to pull through and save the day! But what if a major or unusual disaster were to strike?

Here are some ideas on what to do in an emergency situation:

  • If a speaker or entertainer flakes out on you or has their own personal emergency to deal with, your entire event may suffer. Make sure to clearly spell out how much notice they need give in the case of dropping out. As well, you will want to include wording about refunds in the information you send out to attendees. Smart Meetings shares a great resource for finding another speaker in a pinch.
  • If pending weather looms, you need to go into monitor mode. Stay in direct contact with your venue so they can update you from their end. The last thing you want to do is have people travel to a place where safety is of concern. Stay informed and begin creating an alternate plan. Also consider the possibility of changing the venue and offering attendee discounts to ease their pain.
  • Your venue should have some sort of a contingency plan, be sure to know that plan and be ready to take on your part of the responsibility; informing attendees, changing schedules, etc.
  • Be flexible. You may need to move your schedule around a bit. For example, if most of the attendees will be late due to delays, move the main event to another time.
  • In cases of theft or when dealing with protesters that have the potential to become violent, consider hiring a security team that can work with hotel security.
  • Make sure your team is on the same page. You will need to have a common, clear and concise message to share with attendees. They will need to be aware and informed.
  • Cancellation insurance is a very good idea! It is an investment, but an investment that will pay off in the case of an emergency. Keep in mind that such insurance can be fitted to your particular needs and budget.

In the case of out-of-control, stay in control of what you can as much as you can. May all your meetings be emergency-free, Meeting Planner!

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