A Meeting Planner’s Guide: Four Tips on Disaster Preparedness

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Four tips meeting planners can use to prepare for any type of crisis.

I know that no one likes to talk about disaster preparedness, but if the worst happens, you'll be glad you kept in mind these four tips from today's guest blogger Meg Proskey, vice president of air, registration, and technology for Maritz Travel. Here's her post.

Mother Nature has a habit of creating unexpected challenges. Unfortunately, disaster can strike when least expected, so it is vital to have a plan in place to help prepare for any circumstance. As meeting planners think about events to incent or motivate their employees or channel partners, the first thing they consider is destination. While emergency response or disaster preparedness is probably pretty far back in their minds, but it should be an important consideration.

When an event such as a tsunami, wildfire or volcanic eruption occurs, it can leave planners scurrying to rebook at the last minute. Just a few weeks ago, Colorado was devastated by a rage of wildfires – including Colorado Springs. Maritz Travel was scheduled to hold an incentive program at the Broadmoor Hotel and was able to effectively troubleshoot any issues. The key to any successful program is planning for just about anything.

Think back to the Iceland volcanic eruptions of April 2010. Air travel was stalled but hotels were open for business. What can a planner do in a situation like that to protect their program? Here are four tips.

1. Be aware of weather patterns. Planners should be aware of the seasonality of natural events. While you can get great deals on hotels during this season, you must remember the overall risk you face and have appropriate back up plans.

2. Review contracts and insurance packages. Whether you’re a do it yourselfer or hire a company to plan your trip, all contracts with hotels should have language in them to protect the company from issues of force majeure.

3. Monitor the situation. Sometimes situations arise suddenly that can affect your event. Simply monitoring the situation could help make small or large decisions easier. It takes a lot of planning and resources to research and execute a large-scale plan, and if you're lucky you may have anywhere from 48 hours to a week to implement the program change. The best ally a company can have is a partner who has strong industry and supplier relationships in place to work or rework a contract.

4. Communication is key. A final thing to consider and maybe most important, is the need to keep your attendees informed about their trip. Most incentive programs have approximately 30 to 80 percent of their winners extend their trip. With an already tight time frame, you need a team to communicate with your winners and keep them abreast of what is going on.

In some cases, attendees may want to keep their own plans intact. It is important to make sure the company is protected, but also that the award winners feel valued and respected. Emergency response or disaster preparedness may not be at the forefront of planners minds. However, if meeting planners follow a few simple tips, even if the worst occurs, they can be prepared to act quickly, keep everyone safe, and ensure the best possible experience.

More about Meg: Meg Proskey helps Maritz Travel generate new sales and secure its renewal business through qualifying and customizing programs for a variety of Maritz clients. With more than 14 years of operations experience, Proskey’s responsibilities have included managing airline contracts and air reporting, client technology solutions, participant registration and airline bookings. She has supported all of Maritz Travel’s operation sectors as well as the sales teams.

Discuss this Blog Entry 3

on Aug 7, 2012

Kathy Griffin Says:

August 6th, 2012 at 4:35 am | Edit

I sincerely agree that nobody likes to even think about any mishaps taking place with their carefully planned events. However, if such incidents do take place, then the points mentioned in this blog will surely help to a great extent. There are numerous event planning apps which can assist with such precautionary measures.

on Aug 7, 2012

Joan Eisenstodt Says:

July 26th, 2012 at 5:28 pm | Edit

While we’re talking about this .. those with upcoming meetings in Anaheim should be closely following this story:

http://tinyurl.com/cot6ery

And across the US, the issues of weather are causing infrastructure issues: http://tinyurl.com/cw4llat

We are just not aware and alert and I don’t get it!

on Aug 7, 2012

Brandon Dudley Says:

August 6th, 2012 at 12:27 pm | Edit

I think these are great tips and this weekend Lollapalooza in Chicago actually did a fairly good job dealing with extreme weather. http://lat.ms/Tbi3ip

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