Preparing for the Worst – Advice for Planners facing a Natural Disaster

Corporate Event Planning Company specializing in Event Management & Destination Management Services for Meeting Planners in Denver, Florida & Las Vegas. Imprint Group

The everyday life of an event operations manager is never uneventful or boring. At Imprint Group, our job is to prepare for every scenario that could affect a client’s meeting or event. A motorcoach full of passengers breaks down, 50 extra people show up to a formal dinner gala, the fire eater performer sets the sprinklers off, and so on, those are just some of the things we think of in advance of our events. We can normally predict and plan for the worst, and try to control the situation at hand, but the one thing event production managers cannot control is MOTHER NATURE!

We can, however, predict various outcomes and create a series of backup plans to mitigate the issues we see coming.This is what Imprint Group does best – prepare!

Recently, Hurricane Irma made an unwelcome visit to Orlando. While the devastation could have been much worse, our city still had to deal with a fair share of problems including flooding, tree damage, and a widespread loss of power that lasted 7 days for some. Most of the businesses in the heart of the tourist and convention area of Orlando were back up and operating business as usual within 2 days of Irma’s visit. However, some of our hospitality partners outside this central tourist area and our nearby coastal partners in Port Canaveral weren’t so lucky and went much longer without power.

A few days after the Hurricane hit land, we had a series of group activities planned for a client whose group was visiting Orlando.  Imprint Group’s events included group activities outdoors at venues that had lost power. Both venues tried to assure us that they would have power back on by event day, but when we got two days out and the power still hadn’t returned, we went to Plan B that included moving venues and offering an alternative activity.  Ultimately the group had a great time at the alternate venue and the client was beyond thankful for a little planning ahead on our part.

Basically, at Imprint Group and within the event planning industry, have learned in my years of event operations, that while you always strive for a flawless and uneventful event, be sure to always plan for the “what-ifs.” In the instance of planning for an event that can be affected by a natural disaster like “Irmageddon,” as we called it here in Orlando, be sure to ask yourself and/or do the following:

  1. For outdoor activities, at what point do they make the decision to cancel and what conditions would cause the activity to be canceled (i.e. wind, rain, thunder, lighting, etc.)?
  2. For outdoor venues, do they have a rain location?
  3. Have you mapped out alternate routes to your event destination in case of closed roads due to damage or flooding?
  4. Is there a Force Majeure clause in your contract with the venue or vendor?
  5. Be sure to contact several back up venue/activity locations as soon as there is a threat of extreme weather and put those locations on hold in case you need to make the change. In addition, find out how much notice you must give them to contract the event.
  6. Contact all your vendors to make them aware of your back up venue and talk through any logistical concerns or issues.
  7. Keep calm, stay positive, and be confident, your client will know otherwise!

By Stacey Engelmann

Filed under: Destination Management, Florida, Meetings, Nevada