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Event Crisis Management Strategies

Event Profs know that surprises often lie in wait at events, ready to challenge even the most meticulously planned ones. Crises can strike anytime, from last-minute cancellations to unforeseen emergencies, putting event planners and venue managers to the test.

Having a well-crafted crisis management plan in place becomes practical and vital for ensuring the smooth execution and safety of any event.

What counts as a crisis?

What is defined as a crisis is different for every organisation. Here are some common types of crises in the event industry:

- Epidemics and pandemics (one we are all familiar with!)

- Fire or flood in the venue

- Power cut

- Public transport strikes

- Attendees unable to locate venue or obstacles e.g. traffic preventing them from getting there

- Medical emergencies

We have all been affected by a crisis at some point. When planning your crisis management, think back to these scenarios to remind yourself of how the situation was managed and if there is anything you can learn from it.

Crisis in Cornwall

A fitting example of an event affected by a crisis was Boardmasters. In 2019, the planner cancelled the music festival for surfing fanatics due to high winds.

The three-day festival, based in Cornwall, had to be called off just hours before it started because of the severe weather forecasts. The organisers did not have a crisis management strategy, so they had to cancel to keep everyone safe.

Preparation is vital

The basis of effective crisis management lies in initiative-taking preparation. Before any event, conducting a comprehensive risk assessment is crucial. The HSE says, “The level of detail in your planning should be proportionate to the scale of the event and the degree of risk.”

This process involves identifying potential hazards and liabilities, allowing event planners to devise contingency plans to mitigate risks and minimise the impact of unexpected crises.

The HSE suggests an event organiser should identify the scale, type and scope of the event, type and size of audience, location, duration of the event, and time of day and year the event will be held. These factors will help you to determine what resources and facilities will be required. Then, translate this information into an appropriate safety plan.

Clear communication can be your lifeline

When crisis strikes, transparent and timely communication becomes vital. Establishing effective communication channels with all stakeholders – clients, suppliers, attendees, and emergency services – ensures you distribute critical information swiftly and accurately.

Transparency and honesty are fundamental, promoting trust and confidence in uncertainty.

Mind Tools recommends focusing on the needs and concerns of the audience. Do not make the message focused on you or on damage control. Where appropriate, acknowledge the concerns of the people and deal with them directly. They also suggest focusing on clarity. where possible, leave no room for improper assumptions or best guesses. The clearer your message is, the more people will believe you are disclosing everything they need to know.

Empowerment through training

Investing in your team and providing them with the knowledge and skills to navigate crises is fundamental. Thorough training on emergency procedures—incorporating evacuation protocols, first aid, and crisis communication strategies—is essential.

By arming staff with the tools and training to respond effectively, you can minimise chaos and maximise safety during critical incidents.

Adaptability to navigate the unknown

Flexibility is critical in times of crisis. Events may demand rearrangement, relocation, or even cancellation at a moment's notice, insisting on rapid decision-making and adaptability.

Event planners can navigate crises flexibly and resourcefully by maintaining a flexible mindset and remaining agile in response to changing circumstances.

Post-crisis evaluation

Conducting a thorough post-mortem analysis following any crisis event is essential. This process allows for the recognition of lessons learned and areas for improvement.

Evaluating the effectiveness of the crisis management plan, identifying weaknesses or gaps, and implementing corrective actions are crucial steps toward strengthening resilience and preparedness for future events.

Experienced Event Profs are well aware that crises are an inevitable reality. However, with the right strategies and mindset, every crisis presents an opportunity for growth, learning, and greater resilience.

At Trinity Event Solutions, we are committed to ensuring the safety, success, and resilience of every event we manage. We manage crises confidently and professionally to deliver exceptional experiences for our clients and attendees.

Contact us today to find out how we can support in your next event.

Event Crisis Management Strategies

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