Meeting Mentor Magazine

December 2018

Work on Readiness

Ramp up Risk Management
As More Natural Disasters Hit

Hurricane Sandy. Thunderstorms from the Midwest to mid-Atlantic. Flooding in the Southeast. Three-week-long heat wave. Wildfires. This abbreviated list of 2012 natural disasters in the U.S. doesn’t even cover global flooding, earthquakes and fires last year.

Don’t put risk management for your meetings on the back burner, when natural disasters are increasing in both size and number. According to a study by MunichRe: “The North American continent…is exposed to every type of hazardous weather peril — tropical cyclone, thunderstorm, winter storm, tornado, wildfire, drought and flood. In reviewing the last 30 years of activity, it is clear that the intensity and frequency of most event types are on an upward trend…”

“Planning for natural disasters is absolutely different from other types of disasters from accidents or human frailty,” said Brad Goldberg, CMP, owner/CEO, TriGold Consulting. “But outside of earthquakes, the majority of natural disasters are predictable.” So how should you prepare?

Identify the potential issues. Look at local historical data on temperature, ocean currents, and weather. “That data is out there for meeting professionals to research,” Goldberg noted.

Be more deliberate in mitigation planning. “Knowing what your meeting property intends to do helps you develop a plan,” he said. “Properties in Colorado know how they will deal with white-out conditions, while Florida properties have some type of hurricane plan. Don’t reinvent the wheel, just add to their coattails.”

Delineate how you will communicate. This is essential, whether the meeting is for 10 or 10,000. Here’s where “social media can aid you in great ways,” he said. “Now people who are part of the situation can report what’s going on. You need to know how you will reach out and talk to them.”

Practice your plan. The good ideas you write out are just words unless you practice. And that can be a simple tabletop exercise, where your team diagrams and talks through “what we used to refer to as the flow chart,” Goldberg said. If you are spread out over 10 breakout rooms, what happens if you lose the cell towers? If texting doesn’t work, what’s the back-up plan to that? How long will it take a body to navigate from one end of the meeting space to the other? See how it works on site. “It’s a failure if you don’t at least try out the plan in a small way.”

Don’t be myopic. Remember that the immediate natural disaster can lead to other things, such as power outages and medical issues. “Most people tend to see five degrees right and left,” he noted. “Step back to see the big picture.” — Maxine Golding


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