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by Loren G. Edelstein | January 01, 2012

The new year will pose unprecedented challenges to corporations and employee safety, cautions a recent report by iJET, provider of business intelligence services. In particular, economic unrest will continue, said Bruce McIndoe, president of Annapolis, Md.-based iJET. "What that means to a meeting planner is infrastructure, transportation and service worker disruptions."

Incidents like political riots, terrorist attacks and natural disasters deeply disturbed global business operations in 2011, noted McIndoe. "In 2012, these threats will continue and, over time, increase in frequency and severity." In choosing meeting destinations for 2012 and 2013, planners should consider the level of instability in the area and how it could impact their programs, McIndoe said. Where threats are identified, "the question is, are you willing to take on that risk? And, if so, how are you going to mitigate that through insurance, contract language and other measures?"

Among threats to anticipate:

• Public uprisings borne of economic instability (like the Occupy Wall Street movement);

• Civil unrest in Chile and Greece;

• Intensified anti-Muslim and anti-immigrant fervor in parts of Europe;

• Political tensions and social discontent following elections or leadership changes in North Korea, Iran, Egypt, China and Mexico;

• Disruptions in Thailand, Cambodia and Viet­nam stemming from 2011's floods; and

• New strains of flu and the possible resurgence of endemic diseases such as polio.

"Planners now have to add this geopolitical and social component to their selection process, beyond 'These are my three bids,' " said McIndoe. If a deal seems too good, question why -- beyond traditional reasons like off-season rates. He added, "The upside to being smart about this is, I can do an analysis of Mexico and give you 20 or 30 very low-risk opportunities for a meeting, and they're going to give you a great price."

For related advice, view the free M&C web­cast, "Crisis Manage­ment for Meeting Plan­ners," at mcmag.com/webcasts.aspx