If you're an event planner and have a prevailing feeling that the weather gods hate you, I've got some good news: They don't. The more likely scenario is that you just happen to plan a lot of events, and the law of averages catches up with you every once in a while. Nevertheless, dealing with the potential impact of serious weather - especially when you're in event crunch time - can be tricky. So here are five tips to help you navigate through to sunnier skies.Adam Sloyer is CEO of New York City-based Sequence, an award-winning events agency specializing in production, strategic planning and design.
1. KNOW YOUR CONTRACT
Every event contract should have a force majeure clause, which, to refresh our collective memory, is a contract provision that allows either party to suspend or terminate the performance of its obligations when certain circumstances beyond their control arise, making performance inadvisable, commercially impracticable, illegal or impossible. If, for example, a blizzard prevents your attendees from traveling in for your event, force majeure could be in play. The challenge is that force majeure clauses often are worded differently, and even slight variations can lead to gray areas. In New York City, for instance, many event venues consider force majeure to be in effect only if there's been a declared state of emergency. Make sure the parameters of this clause are clear from the onset, and you'll avoid confusion later on.
2. COMMUNICATE CONSTANTLY
If you're dealing with weather affecting your event, your guests are dealing it with, too. Communicate early to let attendees know the latest updates and plans moving forward, and don't limit your outreach to email. Update your event website, use social media and consider making calls as well. There are plenty of companies that offer mass call and/or texting services if time really is of the essence.
3. PUSH UP THE PLANNING TIMELINE
Talk to the venue about loading in early (or the day/night before) and to vendors about the same. Good partners will always want to be flexible, and sometimes an earlier load-in makes their lives easier, too. Being ahead in your planning timeline leading into the event will give you the ability to focus on unexpected issues as they arise.
4. CREATE CONTINGENCIES FOR CONTENT
Have contingency plans in place for anyone who has a speaking role at your event and might unexpectedly have to cancel or incur delays. If you're producing a meeting or conference, pre-establish alternatives for individual presentations. If speakers are participating as panelists, have your production team ready to remove chairs and other equipment from the stage. For galas and award shows, identify backups for presenters and those accepting awards. VIPs who will be part of the program should always know exactly who to contact on event day, and that individual must be readily available to troubleshoot.
5. STAFF UP
Assume that a severe weather condition might also prevent at least some of your staff from showing up on time. Consider hiring more staff than you need, just so you're prepared for attrition. Being overstaffed is a good problem to have, and there are always ways to put additional people to work on-site.