For most of us, planning an event is an exercise in detail, ensuring that the best plans are in place to make sure everything goes well. But sometimes unforeseen events, even Acts of God, can raise their troublesome heads and bring your up-to-that-moment-flawlessly-managed-event crashing down.

There are numerous war stories that we have heard over the years about events that have gone awry: heavy snow fall knocking out the power, the failure of sound systems and technology in the middle of awards or presentations, the failure of VIPs or guest speakers to arrive on time or at all, flooding after heavy rains that wash out an event, venue staff going missing, kitchen fires, loss of vital equipment, injuries of both staff and guests.
The list can go on and on.

The best laid schemes of mice and men often go awry.

Robert Burns

And in all of these war stories, it was rare that a contingency plan had been developed and put in place. Surprisingly, despite years of experience, many event professionals, while aware of risk management, never really thought it could happen to them. It is always the ‘other guy’ who has had the bad experience!

For every event action there is a possible failed reaction.  Contingency planning is a vital aspect of any event management. When a major problem does occur, event organisers are expected to be able to react quickly and appropriately. The contingency plan should contain responsibilities for any number of scenarios related to your event, a chain of command and procedures to contain or minimise the impact in any number of scenarios.

Ask yourself, have you reviewed external risks? Are you planning an extravaganza event? Fire eaters? Fireworks? Guests on barges? Planes, trains or automobiles? Look at the possible risks involved in of any of these activities (fire, water, high speed, height!) and plan for any possible negative outcomes. Consider first aid, health & safety and access for emergency services.

Your ability to respond and react, to plan for and anticipate emergencies is based on formulating well thought out and robust contingency plans. Should things go awry, having a contingency plan in place will save the day, the event and your reputation.


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