“Weather” to Cancel or Not

With the gorgeous weather the east coast has been enjoying this summer, it's hard to think about inclement weather beyond a sharknado. But if extended forecasts (predictions) are right, much of the country is in for a cold and snowy winter. With event planners working on winter events now, we thought we'd pass along some helpful tips and resources for making weather contingency plans.

  • Insurance - many insurance providers offer a policy for inclement weather. If you are planning an event in an area that may be impacted by weather at the time of your event, looking into such a policy may be a solid investment. Premium costs for a one-day event can be as low as $100-200.
  • Contracts - take a close look at the cancellation/reschedule clauses with all vendors. If any of them don't feel right, work to negotiate them or chose another vendor.
  • Travel - encourage speakers (especially those coming from snowy climates) to think about booking their travel a day before their presentation. This will give them a chance to work around cancelled flights or bad weather. In your attendee guidance you may also want to encourage people to think about "padding" their travel time to your event.
  • Plan - work with all key event stakeholders (planners, sponsors, venue) to determine a go/no go strategy. Set some parameters early (forecast for 12 or more inches of snow means cancel, 80% or higher chance of rain means move events indoors) so when the time comes you already have a decision made and you're not battling with the emotions of being in the moment. Develop a number of contingency plans - cutting the event short by one day, moving to a different day, etc....
  • Attendee Communication - set plans and expectations early with attendees as to how you will communicate any changes. Social media updates, emails, notice on event website? Decide on your method(s) and make that clear when attendees register.
  • Rescheduling vs. Canceling - Determine if rescheduling is possible and work out some alternate dates with your venue. If attendees have purchased tickets and/or vendors have paid for booth space refunds will need to be given in the event of a cancellation or perhaps even with a reschedule, depending on timing. Make sure you have the mechanisms in place to do this easily.

What are your tips for weather contingency planning? What's worked in the past, where have you made mistakes? Let us know in the comments.


Image: woodtv.com 

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