Don’t Let Murphy Ruin Your EventMar 06, 2016
Let's say you are an event planner, who work hard on an event organization nowadays and you planned everything in detail, coordinated every action item with all attendees, rehearsed flow of your event with your staff maybe a million times. Eventually, you assured your participants that, everything will be alright, the event will be a complete success and there is no need to worry about anything, because you really worked hard on it.
OOPS! don't' be so sure about it, since the worst has yet to come… Because you have a very special participant, whose name is not written in the participant list, called; MURPHY !.. And he's not shown up yet..
Anybody who works in event management business knows that, worries of almost all event organizers are usually the same and most of them are prepared for bad weather scenarios with a backup plan. But do you think yours is good enough? Are you sure that, flights will not be delayed because of the heavy snow storm, your famous speaker will be able to attend your event even he got flu and there will be electrical power in the event scene after the hurricane or roads are still safe after the terrorist attack somewhere in downtown?
That's why, I decided to review Murphy Rules for event planners and talk about some useful precautions which must be written in every event planners Bible this time.
Here are some of those and our anti-Murphy suggestions;
Your favorite speaker sends you a message saying he got sick and unfortunately he will not be able to participate your event and he's so sorry.
Participants can always come up with problems. Their flights might have been cancelled; they might catch a flu or they might be lost in airport. You can improve the list. Majority of participants do not create a big effect on your plan when they had a problem but if some of them will play an important role within your event, like being a spokesman or a chairperson, you must pay additional attention to their safe and timely arrival. You better task someone smart enough to track and escort them.
On the other hand it's always good to have a backup plan, in case, they can't make it. Having alternative spokesmen or a vice chairman at hand may save the day. But if your favorite speaker is going to be delayed for only an hour or so, it's better to proceed with the next agenda item or have a coffee break for all participants and inform everyone about the change.
Just before the conference starts, all the lights go off and all the computers turns down.
You know, it happens. But don't worry; solution is so simple. First of all, you should keep in mind that, you must organize your events where you can employ power backup systems, or if they don't have it you must bring your own power backup system before the event starts. This is almost a must for all events since we use many electrical devices in every occasion. Another option can be hiring a power backup system just for the event you are about to organize.
But let's say, despite all those measures you took, you got a power outage, then all you need to do is prevent the panic and give a short coffee break for the audience or continue with the lunch while you are asking technicians to fix the problem.
A heavy snow storm blocked highways and all the flight.
Normally we start to plan our events long time ago and it's usually not possible to forecast weather that early. But still you can check annual weather statistics and pick a fair weather period for planning an event. By the time your event approaches, you must follow weather reports on a daily basis. If it is reported that, a snow storm or hurricane approaches then you better assess the effects. If you have a flexibility to shift the date to another day or another week just change it and spread the news as fast as you can. If not, you may either continue with the arriving participants or cancel your event. You make the decision. But if you consider losing your money, then you should always buy an insurance coverage for your event against all odds.
One of your vendors failed to provide its service at the last minute.
Since you are not able to provide all types of services in an event, you must procure them from relevant vendors. It's both good and bad sides. It's good, because you handover some of your heavy burden to someone else, it's bad, because you lose control over that event service and your success becomes dependent upon your vendor's success. If one of your vendors fails or cancels, you may suddenly fall into a deep trouble so, you should have a list of back-up vendors (caterers, entertainers, etc) on file that you can call if a hired vendor fails to fulfil their contract. Maybe you cannot serve the best meal but you can save the day.
Suddenly you have an emergency situation.
People brings your event their personal problems as well and those problems are never written in registry forms, until they suddenly come up in the middle of your event. Especially senior people are potential candidates for emergency health problems. On the other hand, you must always have an evacuation plan against fire or other similar emergency situations. Developing an effective crisis management plan is essential to ensure everyone from delegates and speakers to venue support staff who know exactly what to do in case of an emergency situation and are fully briefed on alternative arrangements or evacuation procedures. All information about emergency plans should be posted clearly on visible places and shared via info packages distributed to participants.
Your volunteer staff got the message wrong, so you lost one of the participants somewhere in airport.
Keep your communication lines open and use online systems as much as possible so that, you don't allow time sensitive issues fail. Don't forget the world is round and time zones differ in each country. So be reachable all the time. If necessary, task your staff as shifts. Communication doesn't mean only the communication lines but most of the time it's the language you speak. So, work with professionals who can speak and understand even heavy accents of participants if your event is an international one. A healthy communication system can solve many problems before they started.
Your event got really bad critics on media because your staff behaved badly against journalists.
Sharing your plan with the media and keeping them updated is also a critical issue. If you have invited journalists or photographers to the event, keep them informed. Do not treat them impolite. Always try to be helpful. If necessary, send a press release to media organizations about your event. This will help in deflecting any negative focus away from the event.
In conclusion, you can list a lot of Murphy Rules for event management business. While most of them are the ones you might expect and familiar with, the others are still unexpected, unimagined misfortunate and surprisingly new type of mishaps of event organizing business. The basic rules for crisis management of an event are to backup each and every step, to provide clean and effective lines of communication with all parties and to follow your event with close attention until it ends safely. Since there are many issues needed to be dealt with carefully in event management, my suggestion would be using a well designed professional event management software which can organize your efforts and gives you a huge amount of flexibility and communication choices.
About the Author
Posted by Erkan OGULGANMIS
Erkan OGULGANMIS Graduated from Army War College, completed MA degree in Ankara University on Global & Regional Studies, studies law in Istanbul University. Works in MEETINGHAND Online Solutions Co. as Business Development & Sales Manager.