In the modern world, emergencies are no longer rare. Instead, they're routine. From extreme weather to terrorist events, virtually anything can happen to virtually any event. Unfortunately, meeting planners can't prevent that; they can, however, prepare for it, according to Marty MacKay, president of Global Alliance at Hosts Global, an international alliance of destination management companies.
MacKay says one of the best ways to prepare a meeting staff for a potential emergency is to train for one.
"You never really know how you're going to act in certain situations, but if you talk about them, train on them, and think about them in advance, you're more likely to act in the desired way should something happen," MacKay says. "Think about something as simple as an attendee having to go to the hospital for some reason. As a DMC, is my expectation that we send somebody with them? You don't necessarily have the time to make several phone calls to ask someone, 'Should I go? Should I stay? What should I do?' You need to know ahead of time, and that takes training."
Although you can never replicate an emergency in your office as it will happen in the field, rehearsing likely scenarios can help.
"Drills are tough because there's only so much you can physically do to create a [realistic] drill," MacKay continues. "One idea, though, is 'scenario drills,' which can help ensure your team is confident in the decisions they're making. We've got a couple of DMCs, for example, that put out a scenario every Monday at their staff meeting. Someone has to say what they would do if they were in that situation, and then it's discussed a little bit to determine whether their reaction was spot-on or whether there are some other things that should be considered. That kind of training will help you when you're in an actual situation."