How to Write a Contingency Plan
Some events are planned months or even years ahead, but situations can change in a matter of minutes and you need to be prepared to react to changing landscapes. A performer might pull out at the last moment, a venue might go bust or you could be subject to awful weather.
Event organisers can limit the impact of unforeseen circumstance by preparing an effective contingency plan in advance.
While it may seem obvious to have a contingency plan in place, often this gets lost in the rush to prepare plan A. The main mistake planners make is waiting until the disaster strikes before considering how to deal with it.
A full risk assessment is required. From a crisis planning standpoint this is as simple as inspecting the room set up so that everything flows smoothly should a quick evacuation be necessary.
First make sure fire exits are not blocked by the stage or props. Use a risk management checklist, and if you are struggling to come up with one then there are plenty on the internet.
Second, it is crucial to make sure you have adequate event insurance. Be aware of exactly what their policies cover and what they or the local suppliers are responsible for contractually. The smallest of factors can completely invalidate your insurance and spell disaster, for instance if your fire alarms had not been tested and were not working properly.
Third, creating a contingency plan should be an easy-to-read document with handy bullet points, not a manual – no one will read it! This should be a few pages that contain essential phone numbers of who is involved and details of their roles. Make it available online as well as having a hard copy and then there is no danger of losing it.
In the unfortunate circumstances that your event is thrown into crisis, communicate with suppliers, attendees and the media to make sure that everyone knows what is going on. People accept that things can go wrong but you will still be judged on how you handle it from there on out. Keep people informed and you’ll give a good impression, even in a crisis.
Finally, change does not have to mean disaster. Be prepared to think outside the box and try to be flexible enough to change dates and travel plans.
If this all sounds like too much for you to handle on your own then enlist the help of event planning experts – there is a whole industry built out of specialist event planning so don’t be afraid to shop around and utilise it.