Event planners learned something very important over the last two years, and that is the unexpected can and will happen. But, while the Covid pandemic was perhaps the biggest challenge many planners had yet faced in their careers, it forced them to become agile; adapt and pivot on a dime. And this is an invaluable skill that will only help planners move forward.
The good news is the event industry has relaxed over the past 6 months and in-person events have doubled. But reality tells us it would be foolish for planners to forget everything they just learned and pretend the world is once again amenable. It is anything but. New Covid variants have been discovered, inflation is skyrocketing, a recession is looming, and supply chain issues continue to thwart even the best-laid plans. All of this is to say, we are living in interesting times, and event planners need to take what they learned from two years of lockdowns and apply it to whatever the future throws at us next.
And this is where risk management comes in. Risk management is about preparing for the unexpected, identifying potential issues, and having contingency plans and the agility to quickly change tracks.
How Can Planners Use Risk Management When Developing Their Events?
You most likely learned how to leverage risk management concepts somewhere in the past two years. But let’s take a refresher course.
The following are the steps involved in developing a successful risk management plan:
Step 1: Assess Risk
Every event is unique. But what they tend to all have in common is the potential for trouble. Once your initial event plan has been developed, you and your team will need to do a deep dive to find any possible issues. The following are some of the most common components of your event to consider:
- Challenges with sponsors or speakers
- Issues with vendors and other event partners
- Supply chain issues
- Weather events and natural disasters
- Technical issues
- Health crises
The more components your event has, the more thinking and assessing you’ll have to do. For instance, events with food and drink, outdoor gatherings, animals, rides or mechanical devices, etc. carry more risks.
If you need help analyzing your risk level, here is a handy risk analysis tool from Siena College.
Step 2: Review Your Refund Policies
Thanks to Covid, most agreements with vendors, venues and sponsors typically have built-in clauses that accommodate the unexpected. You will want to review these agreements with a fine-tooth comb to fully understand who is responsible for what should SHTF.
It’s important to assess any and all financial consequences when analyzing your event risk. For instance, be crystal clear with your attendees about cancelation policies and consider buying event insurance for peace of mind.
Step 3: Reschedule VS Format Change
It goes without saying that a big part of your event risk management plan is having a “plan B” if the event cannot go as originally planned. For many planners that means deciding on whether they should reschedule the event altogether or pivot to a virtual event.
There is no set approach to making this decision. It really boils down to the costs involved with making the necessary adjustments. For many in the industry, planning a hybrid event right out of the gate protects them from having to make this specific decision down the road because there is a built-in virtual contingency plan.
Step 4: Have a Communication Plan
When plans change, communication is key. How will you get the word out to vendors, attendees, sponsors, and speakers? What channels will you use? Social media? Your webpage? Email? Push notifications?
Having a communication plan in place means you can stay cool should disaster strike and keep everyone in the loop.
Step 5. Develop Policies and Procedures
Once you’ve assessed potential risk you’ll need to develop a set of policies and procedures to protect your future events from said risks. Procedures you may want to consider are:
- Developing training and education programs for team members
- Creating a checklist of Dos and Don’ts
- Gathering informed consent forms and waivers
- Double- and triple-checking local rules and regulations
- Reviewing relevant permits
Step 6: Leverage Event Tech
Every preparedness plan can be elevated by using robust event technology that can help you track attendee information and registrations, automate communication, and automate refunds if necessary.
In addition, the best event platforms offer flexibility between in-person, hybrid, and virtual events. Should you have to pivot quickly and change formats, having great tech on your side can help you seamlessly meet the challenges head-on.
Step 7: Evaluate
As with any plan, a risk management plan needs evaluation to determine what worked and what didn’t. Review some of the following:
- How well did your communication plan work?
- Did your technology platform perform the way you needed?
- Did your policies and procedures keep you out of trouble?
- How did your team perform overall?
In our current global climate, event planners are faced with overwhelming risk and uncertainty. Having a risk management plan in place can help planners mitigate risk so they can adapt and evolve in real-time.
Over the last 2 years, JShay Events has become proficient in helping our clients assess risk and create the best contingency plans that meet attendee needs. If having a reliable partner in your corner will give you peace of mind, please reach out to us.
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