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Jill Stone

Your Meeting Matchmaker Fairy Godmother

When Meeting Meets Disaster

in: Meeting Planning Experience Meeting Planning Services Site Selection Travel and Hospitality

Disasters are rare, but they can be so big and devastating. having a bit of upfront knowledge can go a long way when you are called to act quickly. Here are some things for you to keep in mind should disaster befall your meeting.

  • Keep the Lines of Communication Open: Your attendees are privy to the same information you are when a disaster is about to hit, but they still need to know that you are aware of the situation. Make sure to send out updates via email, on your website, and on all your social media channels. Let them know that if the meeting will need to be cancelled or re-scheduled that you will let them know immediately, or even if you are in a holding pattern until additional information comes in.  In any case, let them know.
  • Put Yourself in Their Shoes: There is great comfort in knowing that your organization is on it and watching. They will look to you for information. Recognize that some people have a very difficult time with last minute change; your meeting was in their plans and now those plans are changing. Though they realize you did not actively seek to plan a meeting at the same time as impending disaster is about to hit – how you handle your communications can help to put many a mind as ease. You will also gain their trust.
  • Be in Constant Contact with your Host Property: Make sure you are working with them on a “Just in Case” Plan.  What is their flexibility on dates? Can they help you to find another property for the meeting? Explore your many options. If you were lucky enough to have a site selection manager help you find the property, their expertise will definitely come in handy at this time!
  • Learn about Insurance Now: Depending upon the size and scope of your meeting, it would behoove you to take some time to look into insurance before booking your event. This can save a lot of money down the road and help you avoid a disaster of the financial kind.
  • But We’re Already Here! If the disaster strikes while you are there, be prepared ahead of time. Make sure you have all important contacts easily accessible in both digital and written form; this will be contact information for speakers, your webmaster, your social media manager, senior people within your organization and more. Just like a good Boy Scout, make sure you carry a flashlight, bottled water, battery operated radio, charged back up batteries for electronics, etc. The most basic of items can make all the difference. Also, have copies of your insurance policies and contracts on hand.

You do not have control over disaster, but you do have control over your being ready, to the best of your abilities, if you end up in disaster’s wake. Let Hurricane Sandy serve as a reminder to all of us the importance of being prepared.

*Thank you to PetHub for the image!

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