As 2020 illustrated to all of us, being prepared for anything is crucial when dealing with event management, including sourcing corporate event venues. We know natural disasters, political unrest, health scares, or any unimaginable events can happen at any time, anywhere in the world. Therefore, organizations and their planning teams must be prepared to pivot and act quickly. You’ve likely dealt with one-off event disruptions for years and hopefully have a crisis management plan in place to address those situations. But when massive, widespread disruption strikes, the stakes are even higher.
This is the second blog in a series based on the newly released eBook Sourcing in the New World. In this series, we will guide you, step-by-step, through the evaluation process of your organization’s venue sourcing program to help you optimize your program and ensure your policies and standards are sufficiently up to date. Read the first post, which outlines the first two steps in the venue sourcing process, here.
Step 3: Understanding Corporate Event Venue Policies to Mitigate Risk
Risk mitigation begins with corporate awareness, and this applies to planning and running an event. Risk-based decisions in an organization are often made by considering the consequences of inaction or taking a particular action. However, only when your risk management program is a strategic and formalized process will it enable you to imagine the unimaginable and prepare for what’s to come. For many organizations, though, beginning a contingency plan is one of the biggest hurdles to overcome.
Types of Risks to Consider When Developing Your Strategy
- Regulatory/Governmental Risks: These are requirements enforced by the industry or state/federal government regulators, such as in-person attendee limits during the pandemic.
- Contractual Risks: Before you sign anything, make sure you review your venue contract thoroughly and have someone from your company’s legal department review it thoroughly. For example, you should be aware of event limitations or be aware of penalties for cancellation or rescheduling.
- Payment: What can you afford? Are there any hidden fees (maybe for cancellations or changes)? Learning how to create a budget and stick to that budget will ensure your event is successful.
- Safety and security: From natural disasters to political uprisings, conditions can arise that demand a crisis preparedness plan that ensures the safety of everyone at an event. Safety and security contingencies should also be outlined in your venue contract, as external factors may change the safety requirements for your event.
Ensuring Safety and Security
Of all the risks inherent to meetings and events, safety and security continue to be high-profile considerations, especially in the wake of the pandemic. Here are just a few ways to ensure you’re sourcing safe corporate event venues:
- Develop a Crisis Management Plan: As we have all learned, things change at the drop of a hat, so being able to quickly notify event attendees as well as designating someone to make final calls about event changes can be crucial when managing last-minute, unforeseen circumstances.
- Partner with Suppliers: All meetings are subject to safety measures of transportation companies, hotels, and even third-party tour operators. Therefore, corporations and event organizers must partner with suppliers they trust to ensure attendee safety, and they must review crisis management plans with their partners regularly.
- Consider Preventative Measures: While having a crisis plan is a good policy, a best practice, especially in our post-pandemic world, is to consider policies that minimize risks to groups, attendees, and employees and communicate these preventative measures.
Step 4: Creating and Using New RFP Templates
Make sure when building your RFP templates (which may have changed to account for new venue safety measures) that you include relevant questions that will allow you to source safe venues at which you and your attendees feel safe and secure. Depending on the format, type, and size of your events, your needs will vary.
In-person and hybrid event RFPs will continue to require unique specifications, so being prepared with customized questions addressing your organizational needs, along with more standard questions, can help streamline your sourcing process and help you gather all the health and safety information you need.
Start by sourcing from a database of venues that includes health and safety guidelines. It should include key information such as cleanliness standards and other guidelines from convention and visitors’ bureaus, hotel management companies, independent venues, and hotel chains, and should be updated regularly as new information comes in from suppliers.
When building out RFPs for your hybrid and in-person events, leverage a set of standardized questions related to hotel health and safety protocols. These questions should include everything you need to know about a venue’s safety, such as: “Are all employees trained on COVID-19 safety and facility sanitation protocols?” and “Are hand sanitizing stations installed and easily accessible by employees and guests at hotel entrances as well as the reception area?”
Safely Sourcing in the New World
This post is the second in a series of three blogs that will assist you in venue sourcing in the new world as you navigate the changes to the events industry brought on by the COVID-19 pandemic. The third and final post in this series will focus on refining event reporting, setting up a communication strategy, and administering ongoing measurement of your event ROI.