Whether it’s being ready to be nimble with the ever-changing landscape of health and safety during a pandemic or simply being ready to adapt to weather changes and more, contingency planning should always be something you have on your mind as you plan your event. Here are 5 Tips for Contingency Planning.
1 – Understand Your Options
As you create your contingency plans, understanding what CAN be done is just as important as what will be done. For example, is there an indoor space if the event can’t happen outdoors, and will that incur a fee? Could the event and food service happen outdoors if the indoor event cannot occur? Is an online or virtual event possible and what systems need to be in place to make that happen? It’s important to understand these options while you are planning so you are ready to activate them if needed.
2 – Understand Your Deadlines
Contingency planning requires strong attention to details and being able to sometimes make a fast decisions. Budgets and funds will be a strong driving factor for some of your decisions. Cancellation policies will outline your refunds and costs. We recommend tracking these cancellation policies for not just your venue, but your caterers, hotels, rentals and more. These deadlines will help you make educated and timely decisions.
Another deadline to be aware of is the registration and marketing timelines. Before every marketing element gets released, or a new market is invited to register, take a moment to ensure there are no changes to your event. It’s much easier to push registration back a week, than it is to have to refund a week’s worth of registrations.
3 – Prepare a Contingency Planning Checklist
Should you decide to change the event, what all needs to happen? Create a checklist throughout your planning process that reminds you to do things such as:
- Change the ticket types on your registration platform
- Contact your vendors and adjust contracts
- Cancel unnecessary orders
- Return purchased product as applicable
- Activate communication channels
4 – Plan Your Communications
While you may not have the email drafted yet, it’s important to think about who and how changes will be communicated. If it’s far from your event date, this could be less of a concern and simply include updating a website, confirmed sponsors, and an email blast. But as you get closer consider how to connect with all ticket holders, phone calls to sponsors, and major supporters. Are there guests with travel considerations that prompt communication is needed? A calling tree can be a great way to ensure that all participants receive a change of plans notice.
Note: Consider WHO needs to find out first. What personal calls need to be made prior to the information being public!
5 – Discuss Your Ticket Options
If you do choose to cancel an event or change the format, you may be faced with needing to refund or transfer dollars of paid sponsorship or ticket sales. Understand what your systems are equipped to do, what your organization’s policies are, and what would best steward your relationships. Sometimes transferring tickets to the next event is an option, while in other occurrences this could be a bookkeeping nightmare. It’s good to discuss this early so you are prepared to answer the “what if” questions early on.
Throughout 2020 and 2021, we’ve learned to be nimble and to plan for the unexpected. While we cannot predict what will come our way and impact our next event, we can be planful and ensure that no matter what changes happen – we are ready for them.
Need help considering how your particular event could adapt to changes? Contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org.