How to Write a Contingency Plan

Some events are planned months or even years ahead, but as the tsunami in Japan shows, situations can change in a matter of minutes.

Event planners can limit the impact of unforeseen circumstance on events by preparing an effective contingency plan in advance.

While it may seem obvious to have a contingency plan in place, it is often not the case. The main thing planners get wrong is waiting until the disaster strikes.

First
, a full risk assessment is required. As simple as the room set up from a crisis planning standpoint. Make sure fire exits are not blocked by the stage or props. Use a risk management checklist, there are plenty on the internet like this one: http://www.trentu.ca/studentaffairs/documents/GenericPre-eventChecklist.pdf

Second, it is crucial to make sure you have adequate event insurance and be aware of exactly what their policies cover and what they or the local suppliers are responsible for contractually.

Third
, creating a contingency plan document, not a manual – no one will read it! This should be a few pages that contain the essentials – phone numbers, simple chart outlining who is involved and their roles. Make it available online as well as hard copy.

Next
, communication with suppliers, attendees and the media can make or break an event thrown into crisis. Like any customer-service issue, most people accept that things can go wrong, but they judge their experience on how you handle it. Keep people informed and you’ll give a good impression, even in a crisis. Make sure your communication is clear.

Finally
, change does not have to mean disaster. The upcoming royal wedding has created a bank holiday and a no-fly zone across London. The solution is to change the date and offer delegates the chance to stay on and watch the wedding.

Talk to the experienced event planners at Brunel's Old Station for help with your event.

Based on Kate Magee article in the C&IT Association Events publication.

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