Coronavirus Creates a Pause on Peak Season
Chaos can strike an event at any moment. For the meetings and association management industry, the coronavirus is rapidly becoming a collective reason for programs to postpone and potentially, cancel indefinitely. It is important to protect yourself with an effective crisis management plan.
Household names like Adobe, Google and Microsoft became some of the first to make this challenging, yet important decision to redline their upcoming events. Perhaps most glaring, the Healthcare Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) called off their 2020 Global Health Conference & Exhibition, where President Trump was scheduled to speak. According to HIMSS, the conference holds a 58-year standing, up until this moment.
The reality is that the global presence, media coverage, and spread of the coronavirus (medically known as COVID-19) comes with an endless list of ramifications, ranging from health, to financial, and industry effects.
For Paragon Events, we treat this issue with a strong sense of urgency, responsibility, and understanding of our clients’ concerns. As with any critical situation, we immediately initiate our own crisis management plans and focus on helping our clients set theirs in motion.
Over the last four weeks, we have been closely monitoring the situation and compiling authorized reports that accurately show the spread and status of the coronavirus. This includes real-time heat maps, current number of cases per region, and of course the latest updates from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). Now more than ever, it’s crucial to share credible information, including its impact on the Global Meetings Industry.
Coronavirus Resources & Information
Beyond that, it’s equally important for businesses to establish next steps, address the current state of any upcoming functions, and show sincere interest in the wellbeing of their customers. Here’s a quick list of immediate measures you can take to protect your event and preserve customer loyalty:
- Always secure event insurance. First and foremost, it should be standard to invest in proper protection that offers general liability and cancellation coverage. Insurance is the best way to prevent or at least mitigate, any potential damage due to an unforeseen circumstance.
- Create a clear communication plan. Whether or not the virus directly affects you at this time, it’s important to address it with your network and provide a statement that gives a distinct view of current operations, scheduled programs, and any precautions you have in place.
- Leverage information and data from reliable sources. To help better assess the news surrounding the virus and provide accurate updates, remember to turn to the experts. This includes the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), the World Health Organization (WHO), and other local health authorities.
- Carefully weigh available options, and be intentional with a final decision. Engage in detailed research and include all employees, regardless of their level, as part of the conversation. Define potential scenarios and specific goals for each workstream to track progress and other triggers.
- Postpone, do not cancel (if you can avoid it). Venues, sponsors, speakers, and other vendors are more likely to be flexible with fees or any charges incurred, especially if they are able to recoup their costs at a later time.
In addition, we commend our industry partners for their swift delivery of resources and information in order to help alleviate this disruption. Below are some recent links we find most valuable for everyone:
For General Planning
The Events Industry Council recently published two webinars in which meeting and event professionals can take a short quiz upon completion and earn one Continuing Education (CE) credit each. Click Here
Fellow partner Meeting Professionals International (MPI) created a full webpage devoted to sharing updated, relevant and credible content to ensure our community is well-informed about the Coronavirus. Click Here
The Professional Convention Management Association (PCMA) recently published an informative article on how professionals can issue an appropriate communication strategy and utilize other creative solutions. Click Here
For Events Still Occuring
Paris based UFI, the Global Association of the Exhibition Industry, and Atlanta based SISO, The Society of Independent Show Organizers, launched a new campaign, called “This Show Is Open”. It supports exhibition and event organizers around the world as they put the industry’s full experience to the task of keeping events going wherever possible, in line with the guidance of health authorities and the interests of their customers. Click Here
Events Currently Cancelled or Postponed
USA Today is tracking major gatherings across the world that have been a part of the latest group to cancel, postpone, or transform into an online-only platform due to the Coronavirus. Click Here
Periods like this may justify why our industry is ranked among one of the world’s most stressful jobs. From our perspective though, it’s because we care. We absorb our clients’ challenges and manage them like our own. Every phone call, every email, every conversation, action and request includes their best interests in mind.
Together, we remain committed to supporting our clients with the utmost compassion, professionalism and attention to detail, as we look forward to this April for Global Meetings Industry Day (GMID), where we can honor the true value of our industry — the expertise we provide our clients during times like this and every other opportunity that comes our way.
How We Can Help
As leading event and association professionals, we focus on proactive planning and preparedness with an emphasis on crisis management. Throughout the development process, we help our clients assess viable risks, determine potential response procedures, and deliver valuable insights to make sound decisions. In addition, we partner with a network of trusted hoteliers, vendors, and other suppliers to support us in building a lasting, successful future for our clients. For more information on our services, please contact us.