If you're planning an outdoor meeting, reception or teambuilding event, there's one thing you care about more than anything else: the weather, which also happens to be the one thing you can control the least.
"Many times, event planners don't think about weather when planning their outdoor event. They hope it doesn't rain and may even consider a backup plan. But what about severe weather, strong winds or lightning?" asks Jim Foerster, a contributor to Plan Your Meetings @ Meeting Professionals International. "It is important to be proactive and think ahead about the impact of severe weather on your event rather than leaving it to chance."
Being proactive requires more than just planning for severe weather. It also means reacting to it in real time. Consider, for example, the impact of lighting if you're meeting on a golf course.
"Relying on a free weather app may provide you with the basic forecast, but it leaves out critical information, such as the distance of lightning strikes from your event," Foerster explains. "Each year more than 100,000 thunderstorms occur in the United States, producing 25 million lightning flashes. These can strike as far as 25 miles from the storm that produces them, making it difficult to predict if the event is in danger. Having accurate, real-time lightning information is critical to ensure that you know if and when to evacuate and get people to safety as well as when it's safe to resume activities."
If a free weather app won't cut it, you might wonder, what will? An even meteorologist, according to Foerster. "There are commercial weather services … that offer meteorologists for individual events," he says. "These experts are highly trained (degreed and certified) meteorologists who consult on the different factors that could affect an event. They can work with planners to navigate uncertainty pertaining to constantly evolving weather patterns and can provide 24/7 weather counsel and information when unfavorable weather conditions will impact the event, through the use of sophisticated software and precision weather instruments."
With such a service in their back packet, meeting planners can feel confident knowing that they have not only a contingency plan, but also real-time intelligence that will tell them when to enact it.