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How DMCs Can Help You Manage the Unexpected

13 December 2023

You’re probably already familiar with this popular phrase in the hospitality industry: expect the unexpected. Even the most meticulously planned events can fall prey to natural disasters, a pandemic, vendor cancellations, and keynote speaker travel delays. Each of these circumstances, along with countless other unforeseen wrinkles, can lead to a lot of stress if you don’t have a backup plan in place.  

What is Risk Management? 

Risks are inevitable — but with careful planning and expertise, changes don’t have to sink your entire event. Incorporating risk management is essential for every event professional. ADMEI's Emergency Preparedness Certificate Course (EPCP) defines Risk Management as “the identification, analysis, assessment, control and avoidance, minimization, or elimination of unacceptable risks.”  Identifying and understanding risks is crucial for the success of any program, and risk management should be a part of the overall program guidelines, along with research, planning, budgeting, and evaluation, according to the Best Practices in Destination Management.

Risk management helps you pivot well even when things are seemingly falling apart around you. A robust risk management plan gives you clarity on who is responsible for what in the case of an unexpected situation. It also helps you smoothly navigate crises like:

  • Knowing where attendees should go in case of an emergency like a tornado or lockdown 
  • Handling travel delays or last-minute cancellations from a venue or vendor
  • Treating medical emergencies if they arise
  • Limiting your financial losses if an event needs to be changed, postponed, or canceled 

Being Proactive, Not Reactive

If you want to manage risks well, you must anticipate them and create a plan, instead of waiting for something to happen and reacting in the moment.  The EPCP teaches that preparedness is "a continuous cycle of planning, organizing, training, equipping, exercising, evaluating, and taking corrective action to ensure effective coordination during incident response." Consider the following categories of potential risks in your event planning: 

  • Regulations: Are there local or federal regulations that may impact an aspect of your event? 
  • Safety: Are you prepared for a crisis, from natural disasters to accidents to other emergencies? 
  • Civil Disturbances: Is your event taking place on the anniversary of a protest? Is another expected? Will travel routes be affected?   
  • Contracts: Are your contracts with venues and vendors solid? Are you protected if things change?  Do your vendors and venues have emergency plans?  Have all plans been coordinated before the event?

How A DMC Can Help You Manage Risks

Managing an event’s potential risks can feel overwhelming, especially when you already have a plate full of other planning details. For expert help in risk management, consider hiring a Destination Management Company (DMC). Teaming up with a DMC could be the best decision you make in planning your event. They can provide local expertise, quality assurance, discounted vendor rates, and logistical support — but they also become an invaluable resource when things don’t go as planned. 

Our book, Best Practices in Destination Management, covers three important aspects of risk management that all event planners and DMCs should incorporate into their event strategy. 

Recognizing Risks

You cannot mitigate risks unless you’re aware of their potential. A DMC partner can help you compile a risk assessment that covers every aspect of your event, from contracts to catastrophes. Once you’ve gathered a list of potential problems, you can begin to craft contingency plans. 

Protecting Against Risks

Remember to secure your DMC partner at the beginning of your planning cycle to ensure that your bases are covered from the beginning. They will likely have local knowledge that helps you book the best venues and vendors, along with negotiating contracts that can help you minimize risks. 

Minimizing Risks

Sometimes, it can’t be avoided: an event needs to be changed, postponed, or canceled. When you change an event from one location to another — there are lots of moving parts to consider. Your DMC partner can help you handle all of those details to keep things running smoothly. If your event date needs to be pushed back, or your event needs to be canceled entirely, there are even more factors at play, from minimizing financial losses to communicating with attendees. 

Communicating Changes Well

No matter what kind of event change you make in response to an unexpected situation, it’s important to communicate that change quickly and clearly. Here’s a quick communication checklist to help you and your DMC partner check all the boxes that apply to you: 

  • Update your event website and apps. 
  • Send a push notification to attendees. 
  • Post on your social media channels if appropriate. 
  • Get in touch with anyone the change affects, from venues to vendors to speakers.
  • Make sure attendees can easily contact you with any questions or concerns. 
  • Look over your refund policies so you can make sure to honor them.

If you need a trusted event partner to help you assess risks, act with expedience when the unexpected happens, and adapt to evolving situations, consider hiring a Destination Management Company. Just search our list of excellent DMCs all over the globe to find the perfect fit!

ADMEI’s Emergency Preparedness Certificate Program focuses on global strategies and includes sessions on Emergency Planning, Risk Assessment, Medical Duty of Care, and Risk Mitigation.  Courses are held throughout the year.  Anyone involved in the planning and/or execution of meetings and events will benefit from earning this certificate.

Best Practices in Destination Management was designed to be your comprehensive guide to DMC services and practices. Buy yours in print or ebook format today! 

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