Crisis Management for Meetings: What to do When the Unexpected Hits

April 13, 2018 Cassie Grenemeier

Not to be an alarmist, but these days, we can’t wonder “if” an emergency will happen. We need to plan for “when”. Proactive planning for the unexpected can minimize stress, prepare you for the unthinkable and help you react quickly and diligently to unforeseen circumstances.

Unsure of how to plan for the unexpected? Here are three quick tips to get you started. Beyond these tips, third-party security vendors are a resource for further risk management solutions.

Always consider safety: Safety and security should be considered in all the choices you make—from the destination to the venue, to the travel it will take to get there (i.e. connections). To mitigate risk and liability, choose companies and venues with proper insurance, and check in on your company’s coverage as well. A seasoned meeting professional plans for the unexpected and is prepared when/if their crisis plan needs to be implemented.

Develop a crisis management plan: You can’t account for every possible scenario that could unfold at your event; assess viable risks, determine potential consequences and start developing a crisis management plan. This plan should include basic emergency response procedures for situations such as evacuations and sheltering in place, venue and city maps, location information including where hospitals are located, police and fire department contact information, etc., and contact details for key on-site staff and vendors. You should also include a communication plan. 

Centralize communication: Give your attendees and your vendors one point of contact for emergency situations. This way, you can streamline any updates that need to be sent out and make sure they are consistent. It is also helpful to designate roles and responsibilities to your on-site team, so everyone understands their duties.

Practice near/far: One last tip—train meeting planners and attendees to respond to the “near” first and then the “far.” When faced with a crisis, respond to the nearest danger or threat first and then reassess to determine what threats or dangers lie further ahead that require preparation.

Benjamin Franklin is attributed to saying, “when you fail to plan, you plan to fail.” Hopefully you will never have to enact your crisis management plan, but having these basic tips covered prepares you and your team for the worst.

 

Sources:

http://www.themeetingmagazines.com/cit/risk-management/

http://www.smartmeetings.com/meeting-planning/9753/legal-briefs-6-ways-to-protect-your-meetings

http://www.successfulmeetings.com/Strategy/Meeting-Strategies/Five-emergency-planning-tips-for-meetings-or-conferences/

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