June 1st to November 30th – they’re familiar dates for those who have spent time on the East Coast. It’s hurricane season. Often, meetings are scheduled prior to the forecast or development of a hurricane.
What happens if a hurricane is projected to make landfall during your meeting?
First, brainstorm, walk-through the “what-ifs” and plan logically. Develop a contingency plan prior to arrival and share this with your attendees. We don’t advise travel if your participants will be in danger, but in the instance that a hurricane develops prior to your event and expected to make landfall, a contingency plan is key to safety and long-term success. You’ll want to work with your conference planning manager to understand the venue’s plans; earthquake and fire safety are equally important. Intertwine the venue’s emergency plans for weather-related issues into your own meeting’s contingency plan.
Second, inform, inform, inform. share the plan with attendees prior to arrival and during the general session. It’s important to update your group on the hurricane’s forecast and how/if it will affect them based on their origin or the destination. On the day that groups arrival, don’t be timid about discussing the “what if’s?” and informing the group, among other safety precautions such as pointing out emergency exits. Continue to repeat the message and provide updates on the progress of the hurricane, without bringing unnecessary alarm.
Third, reflect, revise and apply. Weather is unpredictable so there’s a chance that a hurricane could change its course. However whether your meeting/conference was affected or unaffected by the weather, immediately take notes and reflect on different scenarios. Contingency plans are most effective when they play a key role as the solution to every scenario. In order for planners to develop effective contingency plans, time must be spent reflecting and revising the plan to apply in the future. It’ll only improve from there!
Remember, safety is first. No meeting is worth the danger or risking a participant’s safety. Safety is an initiative of ARAMARK Conference Centers as well as a large priority of The National Conference Center so it’s important to place the best interest of your attendees first. Read Meetings Safety Follow-Up to Fire Drills, Earthquakes and Hurricane Irene for ideas on how to be proactive about natural disasters.