Event Planning and Inclement Weather
With Hurricane Matthew churning away off the coast, many event and convention planners in Florida, Georgia and South Carolina had to decide what to do — cancel entirely, move the date or move to a different venue. This dilemma is faced by every fall event planner in some way or another; either you are coping with the height of hurricane season or getting hit with record early snow falls. Both indoor and outdoor events can be impacted by bad weather in the fall. No matter where you are, inclement weather of any type threatens your event in a variety of ways:
Actual Physical Damage
From sporting events to geekery conventions and even Pride week, the Orlando area pretty much closed as Hurricane Matthew approached. Outdoor music, sporting and similar events that operated in storm conditions would be putting exhibitors, participants and visitors at risk; most venues simply were not comfortable with the physical risks associated with running an event during a big storm. For many venues, there was no choice; from South Carolina to Florida, the storm triggered mandatory evacuations, making it impossible for guests to reach or remain in the area at all.
Some cities and states shut down at the first signs of trouble; making it impractical or impossible for your attendees to arrive at all. Hurricanes and ice storms are vastly different weather conditions, but both ground planes, making it impossible for people to travel until the conditions have passed. Inclement weather causes difficulties for anyone attending your event that must fly or drive a long distance to reach you.
Local Bad Weather
Bad weather doesn’t have to make national headlines or be a hurricane or a tropical storm to impact your event. Even a rainy day can cause problems for your event if you are planning to be outdoors. Having a backup location in mind and ready to go can not only give you a second option for your event if the weather causes problems, but it can also give you much needed peace of mind that you’ve done all you can to make your event a success.
Coping with Inclement Weather
If the weather is bad, you only have a few choices:
- Proceed as Planned: Hoping for the best works in many situations, but this approach is risky; if it is raining and you don’t make other provisions, your guests must choose between attending and getting soaked or staying home. Depending on your attendees age group, you may even have some visitors who simply can’t tolerate or navigate in the rain.
- Change the Venue: Choose an indoor backup venue during the planning process to ensure you always have another option in case something goes wrong. Something as simple as moving indoors can help if you had planned for an outdoor event and it rains.
- Change the Date: Mandatory evacuations, dangerous conditions and the grounding of air flights might mean you’ll have to postpone your event. Make sure that the new date is clearly communicated and that it is far enough away that the weather will have moved on before you try again.
Weather systems can impact your event, even if your actual physical location is unharmed. Bad weather that grounds flights can prevent attendees from arriving or make it more difficult to get around. While you can’t change the weather or the mandatory evacuations that accompany it, you can make a firm backup plan and create an easy way to share information with your prospects and guests.