by Lisa A. Grimaldi | June 30, 2017

More than half -- 59 percent -- of the planners polled for the Incentive Research Foundation's 2016 Event Disruption Study said their events held between 2015 and 2016 experienced some type of disruption, including weather, Zika, terrorism and supplier errors.  The study (18 planners participated in a preliminary personal interview study; an additional 266 were surveyed online) was conducted by University of South Carolina professors Dr. Haemoon Oh, Ph.D., and Dr. Miyoung Jeong, Ph.D., for the IRF.

Among the survey's other key findings:

  • The two most frequently occurring disruptions are weather-related events (38 percent) and vendor failures (28 percent). Planners also discussed these two categories of disruptions most frequently when planning events. 
  • In general, of all business partners, airlines present the most frequent cause of disruptions through cancellations, delays and overbooking (61 percent). 
  • Among business partners, hotels were most helpful in handling disruptions, perhaps because more disruptions occurred within the responsibility of the hotels. 
  • Among business partners, hotels were best prepared to handle crises or disruptions, followed by DMCs, then airlines. Nonetheless, there was room to improve significantly in the partners' overall preparedness for handling disruptions.
  • 43 percent of planners or their companies have experienced one or more disruptions causing a financial loss. The amount of the most frequent financial loss fell between $10,000 and $99,999.
  • 19 percent of the planners with one or more disruption experiences in the past 12 months reported that those disruptions damaged the company's reputation or brand.
  • 41 percent of planners have experienced some increase in the time and effort required to plan for disruptions in the past two years; 39 percent of the planners expect that their time and effort to plan for disruptions will increase somewhat in the next two years.
  • 54 percent of planners require inclusion of contingency plans in all contracts they enter
  • 68 percent of planning companies provide guidelines or assistance for planning for disruptions.
  • 49 percent of planning companies or planners actively communicate to their attendees about potential disruption situations and suggested actions.
  • 68 percent of planners have changed the destination at least once because of perceived risks or disruptions.

"Our research showed that disruptions have a significant impact on meetings and incentives -- whether the disruptions make front-page news or occur behind the scenes," said IRF President Melissa Van Dyke. "The 2016 Event Disruption Study examines what caused these disruptions and how they impacted the events, budgets, and partnerships."
The IRF has produced an accompanying white paper, Adjusting Perspectives Regarding Disruptions in Meetings and Incentives; a pdf of the full study also can be downloaded from the link.