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How meeting planners can prepare for global incidents

By: Tracey Bockhop, CMP

With all the conflict going on around us, it is hard to imagine how we would react if it hit closer to home. It seems that since 9/11 the U.S. has taken great lengths to be prepared for an act of terrorism and tragedy, but can we ever be fully prepared? No one can predict what is going to happen. However, the better prepared we are as planners, the more equipped we will be to assist our attendees, guests and partners when global incidents put us to the test.

There are a lot of moving parts in the meeting and events industry and we have been able to accommodate a lot of unexpected circumstances. We’ve booked last-minute overnight flights for a speaker who was delayed, moved attendees to a new hotel due to renovations and streamed a presenter half way around the globe because they were unable to make their connecting flight. All of us have overcome the unexpected and recovered.

But what do we do when the Federal Aviation Administration (FAA) bans flights in and out of a city where we are conducting business or hosting a meeting in? This is the question some planners and travel agencies had to face last week when the FAA prohibited U.S. flights to Israel’s Tel Aviv airport for two days. Some may say it is unnecessary, others are in support, but regardless of opinion; it is still something we have to deal with. As we scramble to make different arrangements and plans to overcome these issues, having a comprehensive risk management and crisis management plan already in place is crucial.

When developing a risk management or crisis plan, it is important to think of worst case scenario and go from there. It may seem that these events will never happen, and we hope that they don’t, but when you have a plan in place stress can be minimized and meetings can be saved. Creating a plan takes time, but there are many resources out there to assist in writing your own plan specific to your needs, including:

Once you develop a plan outline, you can revisit and revise for each meeting location. Start by working with your vendors who are hired to help make your event a success. Know the policies for your air travel, hotel, ground transportation and off site event locations. Work with them to understand their crisis management plans and who would help you from their teams.

Though no one could have predicted the FAA ban on flights, there are many things you can predict. Being prepared and proactive as a team will help you recover faster and with a greater piece of mind.

I am interested in learning if you have a plan in place. If so, have you have ever had to use it? I'd love to hear from you.

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