Convention and Meeting Planning Tips for "What If..."

Working day in and day out with meeting professionals, a lot of issues come up that have to be dealt with...are there enough hotel rooms for my group; can the meeting rooms at Sacramento Convention Center fit 100 classroom style; is there an offsite venue that can host a reception but also is fun?

But we rarely discuss the unpleasant "what if?" Consider just the past month of "what ifs":

Legislation was signed in Arizona that caused visitors and groups to pull back from following through on plans for meetings and travel to the state...

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There's an oil spill (more like a volcano-like expulsion) that could impact the beaches and beauty of some of the Gulf Shores' most loved scenery and communities...

The well has been spewing at least 210,000 gallons per day since an April 20 explosion at a rig 50 miles off Louisiana - 11 people were killed.

Flooding of Nashville shut down one of the country's largest hotels for months and many of that great city's attractions for days.

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Just as our economy seems, ever so slightly, to maybe turning a slow corner, these hits to the travel and tourism industries in these communities were not what the doctor ordered.  Colleagues and friends are working double-time now to mitigate the circumstances and provide great service to their meetings and conventions customers and tourists. Soon, those cities will overcome these challenges and shine in the end.

As they pick up the pieces, it caused me to wonder how many of the meetings professionals bringing meetings to those areas were prepared for unforeseen incidents and the impacts made upon the plans they had in place for months and years in advance?  How well had the hotels, attractions, and CVBs in those destinations put into place emergency and back-up plans for what is now on their doorsteps? 

All of us in the travel and meetings industry need to "be prepared" and know what to do when "what if..." happens to our organizations, to our cities, to our hotels, to the vendors and destinations we plan on using in the near future. 

A client, friend, industry expert and fellow Packer Backer - Vicky Betzig, CMP - wrote a two-part article for PCMA's Convene magazine that offers some great food-for-thought: 

A few takeaways from Part 2 of Betzig's article:

- identify and rank the liklihood of potential risks
- rank the severity and damage those risks could have upon the success of your event
- identify the players on your team and their respective roles
- communicate and update the plan based on changes in the environment
- communicate the plan with the facilities in which you are meeting
- have some awareness and understanding of their plan
- "got insurance?"

(Read Part 2 of full article)

(Read Part 1 of full article)

I allow my selfish thoughts to turn to me, the Sacramento CVB, and the the Sacramento hotel and hospitality community.  There's an ostrich-like temptation to keep my head buried in the "nothing like that would ever happen in Sacramento" sand.  So very tempting to turn away from the possibility of "what if....?".  But that would be foolish.


This opportunity to ask those questions will not be wasted here.