The New Year is upon us and as we look at 2022 for our meetings and group gatherings, we gaze into the future with bright eyes and positive grins and think, what the heck is going on? We’re moving into year three of what will most likely be a continuation of the dreaded ‘P’ word: pivoting.
It’s not just Covid-19 (C19) and it’s much more than F&B, room blocks and hotel contracts. Event safety has become a priority, if not for meeting planners, then for attendees. Here are some things to consider.
Technology: Cybersecurity is a tired subject (like C19), but it’s not going anywhere (like C19). Meeting planners don’t need to be IT gurus. They merely need to make sure it’s something IT is on top of. It’s more than breach of data and risk of your members’ information because hackers can disable entire systems, like gasoline pipelines and energy grids. Ask yourself, does my next meeting venue have plans should the power go out? Can my IT folks prevent a hack or act in case a virus invades your onsite registration system?
Emotional Health: The global community is approaching nearly two years of lockdowns, face masks and separation. For some, that isolation has created anxiety, drama or even trauma. We’ve all been through an extended, intense experience. Some of us have survived it better than others. If you, your staff, or attendees are experiencing depression, anxiety or other strong emotions, professional help is available and worthwhile. Don’t lose sight of this. Mental health is important.
Climate Change: You don’t have to be a scientist, politician, or meteorologist to see the effects of climate change. Whether it’s the hurricanes and flooding on the East Coast, the wildfires and severe drought out west, or the violent tornadoes in the Midwest, the weather now plays a role in how we plan our meetings. It might be a matter of merely reconsidering meeting dates or locations to get around peak climate seasons, but if you’re not including climate in your meeting safety plans, you could very well end up in the middle of a twister. Literally.
Active Threats: These days the bad guys use more than guns. However, the FBI reports active shooter events increased 33 percent in 2020 compared to 2019 and 100 percent compared to 2016. The increase comes most likely from a combination of C19, socio-economics issues and mental health. On the plus side, the number of deaths is down, probably a result of quick action at the scene and by speedy response from police. A potential new tool (and weapon): drones.
The Economy: As we continue to look at in-person conferences and suppliers start to see revenue go up, the market for meeting planners to find venues and suppliers will become more competitive. You’ll need to make quick decisions on location, price, and budget. Don’t let meeting safety and security suffer. That prime hotel you want downtown will only work for your group if it’s well-staffed, well-maintained and provides the experience and environment you need to make your meeting a success.
Illness: A note about C19. It’s not done with us yet. Omicron is fast approaching. It’s believed to be more transmissible, but less severe. In almost all areas where C19 is on the increase, vaccination rates are low. As a matter of fact, I have been advising my groups planning meetings for 2022 not to be complacent. It’s best to have what you need and not need it than the other way around. Include improved ventilation as an essential C19 reducer when considering venues.
Alan Kleinfeld, has more years in meeting management then he wants to admit, combined with nearly two decades of law enforcement experience. He’s a sought-after consultant, speaker, writer and trainer. His safety topics have included site selection, event safety, emergency operations and crisis communications. Contact him at firstname.lastname@example.org.