April 12, 2023 by Dave Lutz
Contingency plan, A, B & C: iStock Credit: Andrii Dodonov
Last fall, two of our consulting clients were scheduled to have their annual conferences in Orlando. In late September, Hurricane Ian pummeled central Florida, triggering a significant number of flight cancellations. Group No. 1 had no choice but to cancel its in-person event.
Fortunately, this association had already planned a digital version of the conference to be held four weeks after the in-person event. This virtual extension quickly became the back-up plan for the in-person conference. The opening keynoter was rescheduled to kick off the now enhanced digital conference, still set for a month after the canceled in-person event.
In November, it was Hurricane Nicole’s turn to put a damper on client No. 2’s plans. This time, a good percentage of the attendees were able to travel and got to experience a hurricane from the comfort of their hotel room. This association had already planned a hybrid offering that included livestreaming general sessions and select concurrents. Attendees who were unable to travel were able to switch their registration to the digital cohort.
Due to flight cancellations, the opening general session speakers were not able to arrive in time. The association acted fast and was able to pull off a very effective virtual fireside chat with the two speakers, conducted live with an on-site interviewer. It served as a very successful plan B.
These two associations had solid contingency plans in place that enabled them to react quickly and effectively. Their success depended on the flexibility of their speakers.
Five Asks for Professional Speakers
Reflecting on the uncertainties of the past few years, it’s wise for organizers to ask professional speakers and speaker bureaus to proactively help with main-stage contingency planning. Here are some suggestions.
What kind of contingency plans do you have in place for your main-stage speakers? If and when speakers push back, what are some solutions?
Adapted from Dave’s Forward Thinking column in PCMA’s Convene. Reprinted with permission of Convene, the magazine of the Professional Convention Management Association. ©2023.
Filed Under: Experience Design
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