Planning an event is an immense responsibility where event professionals have a pretty exhausting to-do list to work with. From managing the speakers to the event venue, the attendees and their engagement to the technological requirements, everything that you can think of has to be holistically managed by the event planners.
However, the list does not end at the predictable or the regular tasks. There are a lot of probable and sometimes even unthinkable contingencies that might be on your way.
Any experienced event prof would know that no matter how many efforts you put in the planning, there are always some incidents ready to wreck the big day for you. They could be as small as the dysfunction of one microphone and can be as major as a natural calamity. And trust me! Better preparations or planning are not your way out.
The only possible thing you can do is to come up with an elaborate event contingency plan — a plan that will direct your activities in the case of any major or minor trouble. This plan not only works as a predictor of emergencies but will also help you to be equipped enough to cope with them.
Your first task is without a doubt to decide the team members that are responsible for the planning as well as the implementation during emergencies.
Now depending on the size of your event, this team can be adjusted. If you are working for a small event, the departmental heads could, in general, be made responsible for contingencies. For example, you can ask the tech team to be prepared for any technical glitches or failures.
However, if you have a large-scale event, you need to prepare a specialized team that will look after nothing by event contingencies and emergencies.
Whatever is the case, once you are finished with the planning part, make sure to have some basics clear with the contingency team members regarding the implementation including:
- The division of labour and the roles and responsibilities of every single member on the team;
- The hierarchical chain of command to be followed during any type of decision-making;
- Proper and secure means and modes of communication for the team.
The list of the probable troubles that you might face during an event is virtually endless. However, there are some common areas that might cause troubles and can be taken care of to secure the majority of the event happenings. These include:
In the tech-savvy world of the 21st century, even the most basic events rely on some form of event technology. If nothing else, you would at least need a microphone. With grander events, these technological requirements also progress substantially. However, despite their efficiency, a tech equipment is just as vulnerable to malfunction as anything else.
Thus, facing a technological problem is an extremely common yet troublesome issue for events. The best way out is:
- Check every single tech device before the event starts;
- Have backups for as many equipment as possible;
- If there are any videos, audios, images, etc. to be displayed during the event, play them completely before the event starts in order to prevent glitches;
- Have an efficient team ready for handling all sorts of tech problems.
When it comes to train the team about virtual event contingency, it invilves problems like dealing with network issues, attendees from across the globe and managing the time zone, integration platform update issues (You never know when zoom would push the next update, it may be while your event is live)But on the top of it, digital platform like virtual conference platform and the client success team must be avaiable round the clock to help speakers, sponsors, exhibitors, combat any situation they may face!
In order to prevent trespassers from entering your event venue, you need to make appropriate event security arrangements. Some venues also provide security arrangements. If not, you can arrange a team on your own. Either ways, ensure that:
- There are enough capable members on the event security team;
- The venue is well equipped with CCTVs, metal detectors, etc. according to the requirement;
- A special event security team is arranged for any VIP guest that you are expecting;
- There are ample resources to control any nuisance or trouble created.
Medical emergencies can take place anywhere, anytime. As an event planner, you need to ensure that there are ample arrangements for providing medical services for all your guests and attendees.
You need to arrange:
- At least 2–3 team members who can provide first-aid care and CPR;
- A complete first-aid kit (including some basic medicines);
- Quick access to an ambulance for extreme cases.
Fire outbreaks, earthquakes and other accidents and disasters come totally uninvited. However, they are not so common, you need to be ready to tackle the situation if the need arises. To prepare for such situations:
- Acquaint all your team members with the emergency exit routes;
- Keep equipment like fire extinguishers handy.
All your team members are susceptible to health issues, family emergencies or anything else that might prevent them from reporting on time and carrying out their work. Such situations are usually nobody’s fault but can cause problematic situations if not dealt with properly.
Thus, your team members should be trained and prepared enough to replace each other if one of them is not able to work due to any reason. A good idea for a large-scale event is to always have a few more members than required.
Guests/ Speakers/ Performers
Just like your team members, your guests or speakers might also need to cancel their attendance at the last moment. In order to prevent chaos or problems in such situations, you can take the following measures:
- Try and make arrangements in a way that your guests or speakers report to the venue a few hours before they need to be present publicly;
- If the guests might run a little late, prepare some alterations that can be made to the event schedule accordingly;
- Keep in mind some other special guests or speakers who could fill in at the last moment in case or emergencies.
Some care must be taken for the performers or presenters that are a part of your event as well. For them, make sure that:
- All the tools, equipment, etc. required by them are functional. Have some backups as well wherever feasible;
- Plan for a situation where they are unable to be present due to any emergency.
While not totally common, unexpected political riots or disturbances can trouble your event. Thus, your comprehensive event contingency plan should have appropriate measures ready for such situations as well. To prepare for such a scenario, you can:
- Ensure that the security staff is capable enough to deal with any type of outbreaks;
- Make proper arrangements for quickest and safest closure of the event and evacuation of the guests and attendees.
All the mentioned scenarios and their corresponding action-plans have some monetary requirements. Thus, it is essential for you to have a proper budget for all types of event contingencies.
While planning the overall budget for your event, save some appropriate amount for dealing with contingencies as well. The point here is not to go paranoid with every single thing related to your event and overspend on prevention and cure. You only need to take care of the bare minimum and you will be good to go.
Emergencies and unexpected troubles take place in every single event and there is no way to prevent them. All you need to do is be mentally as well as physically ready to cope with any situation that may arise.
This also forms an important part of your teams’ training. While preparing them for the event, you need to prepare them for all types of emergencies as well. You don’t need to go over the top with your event planning.
All you need to do is to be prepared enough to deal with anything and everything that comes your way without causing panic in the attendees or the team.