Risk is inevitable for any business and in any industry. With the number of moving parts involved in event planning and delivery, it is even more crucial that it be dealt with responsibly. Meet these 10 uncertainties head-on by planning contingencies, mitigations and other strategies, and make sure your event is ready for whatever hits it.
- COVID-19. There's obviously never been a more likely and more impactful uncertainty to threaten the very existence of your event. Respond to it with scenario planning: what happens if your event is not allowed to take place? What happens if it can only take place behind closed doors or virtually, or with minimal attendees, or with 25% capacity? Take mitigating actions like taking out insurance, and make contingency plans such as a back-up date later in the year. If you are delivering virtual events, check out this piece by Carlstrom Productions with four tips on producing great virtual events.
- Weather. If you're an outdoor event, you're certain to be worrying about the uncertainty of the weather. Think about how you could adapt your event in certain ways if there's heavy rain on event day, to still provide an enjoyable and worthwhile day to your visitors. And think about opportunity planning too (the happier side of risk management!) - how could you make a bit of rain work to your benefit?
- Budget. This is the sword of Damocles hanging over every event operator, whether your event is local or international. The risk that you might run out of budget during the event organising stage is obviously something to be managed very carefully, as you never know when something will cost much more than expected. It's a case of using your experience to plan sensibly and understand possible dangers ahead!
- Transport, Traffic and Travel. This is a frustrating uncertainty to plan for, as it is usually completely out of your control. If a major road is closed or a key train line blocked, what can you do? Here you might want to make contingency plans - is there flexibility to slightly delay your event if attendees are delayed in arriving? Could the risk be mitigated by you sharing multiple alternative transport routes with your attendees?
- Spectator Safety. As an event manager you bear a lot of responsibility for the safety of your visitors. A lot of potential issues here will be covered as you deal with other risks, so it is really something to always bear in mind as you plan for uncertainty - what could happen at my event that could harm my attendees?
- Maintenance / Physical Site. This type of issue might be difficult to predict, so focus on contingency planning. Have a maintenance team in place with clear communication channels, so that if something requires urgent repair, you have the team and the knowledge to fix it quickly.
- Drunk and Disorderly Behaviour. This is a common issue at live events, and a lot depends on how well your staff are equipped to deal with bad behaviour arising from drunkenness. Train them on how to spot the signs of someone who has drunk too much and to deal with them in a calm way, acting proactively before the issue results in violence and / or another form of abuse.
- Fire and Evacuation Procedures. An absolute essential - for your whole staff to know what to do if an emergency evacuation is required. Put in place clear signage, train staff on processes, set up evacuation points - these are the vital steps that can be put in place before the event, so that everyone knows what to do if an evacuation is necessary.
- Staff / Volunteers. Not in the right place, not knowing what to do, not having enough staff in the first place. Your staff are tasked with preventing or tackling issues on the ground, and they rely on you to fully prepare them. Involve them fully in contingency planning, considering what they need to deal with every uncertainty that you plan for.
- Finally - remember Murphy's Law. Anything that can go wrong, will go wrong! You need to be ready for when risks become live issues. That should be at the centre of all of your uncertainty planning.
The key to risk management lies in creative thinking. You can't predict exactly what will go wrong, so you need to cover the obvious uncertainties, and build and execute plans that alleviate risks and maximise opportunities. That way, you'll feel somewhat comfortable that you're ready for any issue!
We have also produced a comprehensive white paper aimed at helping events, venues and organisations to deal with uncertainty. Click here to read The Complete Guide to Risk and Issue Management.