<< In the News | April 30, 2020
Crisis management used to be the last tab in every event planning binder— the one most seldom reviewed. Unfortunately, the recent surge in complex, unpredictable incidents — from natural disasters to acts of terrorism and now, a global pandemic — has obliged event executives to spend more time and resources to ensure an effective response to even the most unimaginable crisis scenarios.
Until recently, we could assume that any major crises we’d be handling would occur at an event. The COVID-19 pandemic changed the game and we now have to redefine “crisis” to include incidents that occur before events and may not be directly related to them. We also have to radically re-think how we anticipate, prepare for and respond to highly disruptive incidents. Many in our industry are leading the way, evangelizing the idea of “revent” — to re-invent, re-imagine and re-engineer our events in order to meet the next disruptive challenge.
Revent certainly seems the right idea for our industry today. Event pros are great at focusing innovation and creativity on creating fabulous event experiences. We must now also apply that same creativity in imagining things that can derail our events and how we will pivot when a disruption occurs so we can continue to deliver both the participant experience and the business benefit to the companies we serve.
While revent as a process is fueled by creativity and innovation, it should also be grounded in pragmatism. Below are four insights that can help event execs keep the business end of their revent efforts on the rails:
- Events are arguably the most high-touch, people-intensive and multi-disciplinary activities a company undertakes. As such, re-thinking and re-engineering is a shared responsibility and event executives must work across internal and external functions to harness innovative thinking and convert it into comprehensive, integrated plans.
- Every risk scenario should go through a risk/impact vs. probability assessment. Those with the highest risk/impact and probability of happening should get the most attention and resources. Risk/impact gets more weight in the assessment because as we are experiencing, highly improbable bad things happen.
- Revent efforts will be much easier to implement if you have rock solid contingency plans in place if an event must be cancelled, postponed or re-engineered into a new format. These plans should address the full gamut of change issues such as insurance riders, exhibitor and supplier contracts and participant refunds, as well as how transitioning from live to virtual events creates new experiential and sponsorship opportunities.
- Lastly, we have to accept that there is no fail-safe method of anticipating crises. We should always be willing to look back critically on our performance during a revent effort to learn and improve. One thing we can anticipate with high confidence: even the worst crises end. The silver lining in revent is that as we come through our current challenge, our contracts will be stronger, our virtual events will reflect new and forward-thinking ideas and our industry will emerge grateful and reenergized.