The 11 Kinds of Event Disruption Planners Must Watch Out For

By: ITA Group
person stopping wooden blocks from falling over


So you’re putting on an event and followed your plan to a “T.” Everything will go perfectly, right? Well…sometimes.

Murphy’s Law states that if something can go wrong, it will. And for event planners, it’s got a firm grip on events.

An Incentive Research Foundation study went into great detail about the kinds of disruption event planners must watch out for and which ones are most likely to happen. Knowing how you’d manage these 11 kinds of disruption can help you understand what areas of risk need the most mitigation, and what other event planners are doing to navigate the often-choppy waters of event planning.

1. Medical & Diet Disruption

According to the American Heart Association, every year, cardiovascular disease accounts for nearly 801,000 deaths in the U.S. That’s about 1 in every 3 deaths, or an average of one death every 40 seconds.

Diseases, food poisonings and accidents can strike at any time for your attendees, which presents a real threat for your event. Make sure your event is staffed with the proper medical professionals to ensure safety.

2. Supplier/Vendor Concerns

Event planners vet their suppliers and vendors very carefully, and for good reason—they’re placing large chunks of the event in the hands of someone outside of their company and their control.

In the event of a supplier or vendor concern, such as the bankruptcy of a supplier or a missed flight by a keynote speaker, make sure you have contingency plans in place.

3. Unstable Locales

The world is an unstable place. Terrorism attacks in France and Belgium, protests in cities around the U.S. and much more can turn an idyllic location into one people are afraid to visit.

If your event destination is in a city or country that has felt the impact of these kinds of instabilities before your event, make sure you’re prepared to answer participant questions about safety. If concerns reach a fever pitch, have a standby option.

4. Physical Threats

During your event, physical threats can emerge, either to your event or to the area surrounding it. The first priority of any event planner is the safety of your people, and it’s up to you to create a secure environment to ensure a successful event.

While on-site, keep a close watch on any political or civil unrest in your area, and stay in touch with local law enforcement in the event of any threatening developments.

Related: Ask yourself these questions to ensure the security of your event attendees, your data and your business’ financial investment is well-kept.

5. Facility Management

It’s so annoying when the internet breaks at home. When it breaks at your venue, it’s not an annoyance—it can be a massive hindrance to a successful experience.

It’s not just the internet, either. Malfunctioning audiovisual equipment or general technical incompetency can create a subpar experience for participants and enormous headaches for you.

Check and double-check these elements by putting yourself in the shoes of a participant. Walk through the event as if you were an attendee to note what’s working and what isn’t.

6. Weather & Natural Disasters

Weather is the number-one cause of disruptions that event planners deal with, and it can cause small or large concerns. From a loss of power to flight delays to cancellation of outdoor events, Mother Nature can play hardball with your plans, especially in seaside locations.

Be prepared, have contingency plans—and don’t forget to bring an umbrella.

7. Data & Online Problems

Events are swiftly becoming more and more connected, and RFD readers, scannable name badges and biometrics aren’t the stuff of science fiction anymore. That said, the more data you collect, the more tempting that data is to data thieves. Just as you’d invest in the physical security of your event, consider the security of your and your participants’ data as well.

Your participants can unintentionally raise data concerns by sharing sensitive content on social media. Create a social media plan that outlines what people can and cannot share during your event to prevent classified content getting out.

Related: Here are a few best practices to follow to ensure event data security.

8. Hotel Concerns

Ever lived in an apartment where your upstairs neighbors made a habit of stomping around at three in the morning? That’s annoying. Hotels can experience similar disruptions, unintentionally (and unfortunately) turning a quiet, educational conference into an all-night party.

Make sure you know when your hotel is undergoing construction, and be mindful of other events in your event’s proximity. Having music festival attendees crash your corporate meeting can make for a challenging experience.

9. Transportation

If your event takes place in multiple venues, getting people from Point A to Point B is always a challenge. If the transportation isn’t easy, people will begrudgingly take a taxi or an Uber. Or, if the transportation isn’t there at all, your people won’t attend. Foreign locales complicate matters further, with language barriers and often unreliable car and bus services.

Make sure your transportation methods are available, clear and reliable for your people throughout your event.

10. Attrition

Checking out blocks of rooms from a hotel can feel like a leap of faith. In a nutshell, that’s attrition—if all the rooms you reserved for your event weren't used and paid for by attendees, your organization will be expected to make up the difference. When event attendees pull the plug on coming to your event or when they stay at another hotel, you can be stuck with fees.

Double-check that your attendees know the importance of staying at their designated hotel, and enforce the policies among your team.

11. Last-Minute Changes

Clients are particular about the way they want things—as well they should be. But last-minute changes can cause problems for event planners who didn’t double-check all the details and protect themselves with strong contracts.

Verify that any contracts that clients sign are iron-clad and minimize last-minute changes.

Expect the Best, Prepare for Disruption

If risk management isn’t an integral part of your event strategy—from day one—then you’re leaving your company and event open to incredible risk.

According to a Global Business Travel Association survey, nearly 30% of companies reported their organization didn’t have a risk management plan in place or were unsure if there was one.

Bring your event risk management strategy up to speed. Download our travel and event risk management ebook to get valuable risk management insights and actionable takeaways.

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ITA Group

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