Imagine the day of your big event. Months of preparation and coordination has gone into the event. You’ve paid all of your vendors, submitted a final headcount, checked staff and equipment. Everything appears to be ready to go. Except, at the last minute your keynote speaker calls and says he has to cancel. The person that everyone wants to hear speak won’t be there! What do you do? There was a whole hour that they were supposed to fill – can you get someone else last minute? Do you leave attendees with nothing to do for an hour? This is why you need a contingency plan for events.
Why make a contingency plan for events?
Have you ever heard of Murphy’s Law? It’s an old adage that states “if something can go wrong, it will go wrong”.
If you’re hosting an event, chances are you’ve put a lot of time and energy into planning it. If you charge your attendees for the event they are expecting to receive value from it. Could you imagine spending $300 on a ticket to an event just to find out that the speaker you wanted to hear wouldn’t be there? You’d probably be a little upset. You would be even more upset if there were no contingency plan to replace the speaker.
How to make a contingency plan for an event
Think about all of the things that will happen at the event. If you already have a schedule of speakers for your event, you can use that as a starting point.
You will also want to incorporate technical resources. Resources like audio/video equipment, Wi-Fi, and electricity, can go out during an event. Add food, drinks, giveaways, weather, and other administrative resources like things needed for registration.
Take all of these resources you just came up with and add them to a list.
Next to each item, write down things that can go wrong. For example, the Wi-Fi goes out. Also, make an indication as to the severity of the problem. Can the event still go on, or is this just a minor inconvenience?
Make another column next to each thing that can go wrong, and write down your contingency plan. For example, have a backup hot-spot for Wi-Fi that can be used if the main Wi-Fi goes out.
Here is an example contingency plan for events:
Have a plan for everything that can go wrong. That way you aren’t frantically trying to fix a problem at the last minute while still trying to do all the other things you need to do.
Get everyone on board
Make sure everyone involved in running the event knows about your plan. Distribute copies of relevant sections to each person, or team of people, involved with the event.
For example, the people running the registration desk won’t need to worry about your catering contingency. They would need to know what to do if someone shows up who didn’t pre-register though.
Distributing your contingency plan to your team will allow them to act fast when there is a problem. It saves you the interruption that would come from them asking what to do. When everyone is on the same page, the event will run much smoother.
It isn’t bad to plan ahead
It might seem like having a contingency plan for even the minor things is overkill. But you don’t want to end up with a dozen “minor” things going wrong all at once with no plan. You’ll quickly become overwhelmed, and lose sight of other areas that need your attention.
In the months before your event, your head is much more clear and can come up with a better plan that you could at the last minute.