Weather events are the one thing that even the most competent and organized meeting planner cannot control – and are the only "events" that a planner wants no part of. When faced with the harsh reality of what mother nature can dish out, it pays to have a disaster preparedness plan in place! It is important to know what to do in case of an emergency:
1. Work closely with the location's CVB. Have their number on speed dial! They will be able to provide timely and accurate information, as well as serve as a resource for individuals, business travelers and meeting attendees. More than likely the CVB will be able to provide information on their website, as it becomes available to them, including flight cancellations, evacuations and power outages.
2. Keep an open communication, at all times, with all participants. Do not try to hide the fact that it may be time to take an emergency plan into action.
3. In areas most often hardest hit by natural disasters venues offer Cover Your Event supplemental insurance plans which are specifically designed for groups that meet during a named hurricane and during the months of August-October.
4. Long before the storm hits – make sure your contacts are correct. Be sure to have at least one backup contact. Keep in mind that cell phones do not always work in a storm, so verify public address systems and consider using two-way radios with staff.
5. Have an emergency protocol in place. Periodically review and train staff on procedures, review prior to each event. Streamline these protocols so that they are not overly complex, easy to follow and execute. Talk to your vendors, offer them the emergency protocol to follow before the event, making sure to include instruction to follow if you are evacuated.
Whether the weather gets to your event as a tornado, a hurricane, a blizzard or a wildfire it is vital, as an event planner, to remain in control of the situation, to communicate openly with participants and know ahead of the storm what to do, how to evacuate, whom to contact and how to reach them.