August 6, 2018

Event Strategies

The Importance of an Event Contingency Plan


Corrine Stratton

Field marketers should expect the unexpected when planning a field marketing event. A contingency plan is a necessary step in the event planning process.


Field marketing events are a growing marketing and sales tool that bring customers and prospects together in a creative way at reasonable costs. Bizzabo found that 80% of event organizers believe that live events are crucial to their organization’s success. At Banzai we have seen this trend firsthand by supporting our customers with more than 50 events a week. The increase in the value of field marketing events shows the importance of each event’s success. Now when something goes wrong, there are more people watching and more at stake for the business.

Link to the workbook, How to Run an Event That Isn't Terrible.

What could possibly go wrong?

In one word, everything. From weather issues to power outages and technology failures, it is important to expect and plan for the unexpected. Most of what might go wrong is beyond your control, but by having a well-organized event, a thoughtful and easily executed plan B, and strong communication with your team, speakers, and attendees, most problems can be fixed with little impact to your event experience and your company’s bottom line.

Putting together a plan

Scott Givens, President of Five Currents, begins production for each event by completing a full risk assessment with his team. Together they look at possible problems and develop the necessary solutions. Here are a few risks and potential solutions to consider when putting together your contingency plan for your next event:

Speaker cancellation or no show

Life happens, which can take a toll on your event’s agenda. Best case scenario is that your speaker gives you a few days notice when they cancel. This situation highlights the need to have your own backup speaker list. Is there a customer in the region that has a story to tell? Is there a speaker from a past event available to cover? Knowing your options can turn a major headache like a speaker cancelation, into a situation with an easy resolution.

Unfortunately, not all speakers are able to give 24+ hours notice when they have to cancel. Delayed planes, sick family members, and last-minute business meetings happen. In this situation, it might be necessary to rethink the format of your event. Instead of your planned speaker, can you host a small panel with a few of your attendees as participants? Is there a member of your team that can lead the discussion or speaks to a business problem your product solves? The goal is to provide your attendees with relevant content they can put into action. By having an agreed-upon backup speaker plan, you can immediately implement your solution and continue to provide your guests with outstanding customer experience.

Venue cancellation

A venue cancellation can really throw a wrench into your field marketing event. It affects your food and beverage, the type of meeting space needed for an effective event, your attendee's availability to make it, and more. This problem is never easy, but one way to ease the stress (even just a bit), is to keep a list of similar venues in the area. You can save yourselves time and stress by having information on 3-5 venue options including meeting space overview, costs, and contact information. Additionally, you can ensure that your chosen venue has its own contingency plan. Ask this upfront when booking your venue and utilize your contact to make sure they are prepared to support you if any issue comes up.

Mother nature

One of the most unpredictable event stressors is the one thing that is the most out of our control, the weather. Be proactive when planning your upcoming event and avoid areas and times of the year where severe weather is likely to happen. As part of your contingency plan, think through what you will do if your event’s forecast takes an unexpected turn. Can you move your event inside? Can your event go virtual? How will you keep your attendees informed? How often will you reach out?  Most importantly, when will you and your team determine if the event should continue as planned. Your safety and the safety of your team and guests should always be the top priority.

There will always be things that are out of your control and that you cannot anticipate. When something does not go according to plan, remember to remain as calm as possible. This is why you have a backup plan. Your preparedness will ensure that you and your field marketing event are set up for success.

Link to the workbook, How to Run an Event That Isn't Terrible.
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