While there are many perks to having an outdoor event — fresh air, less maintenance, and reduced costs — there is also a fair share of risks. The weather may be unpredictable, your equipment could malfunction, and your event may be inaccessible to some of the guests. Any business should acknowledge the risks and create a plan B if a sudden change is necessary.
A good risk management strategy is essential because you can plan in the case of an emergency to make the proper adjustments on the fly. This way, the event can go on without a hitch. Here are some common risks to consider and tips for how to work around those issues if they arise.
The first step to creating an effective risk management plan is to recognize the issues that could occur at your event so you can develop a plan of action if they become a reality.
You need to account for the weather on the day of the event, as any climate can pose a threat. For instance, warm days may seem perfect, but there is the chance that it can get too hot and cause your guests to experience sunburn, heat cramps, and exhaustion. The same goes for winter storms. The weather report may predict a mild winter day, but there’s always the chance that a sudden storm or wind chill could flow in and cause issues for your guests. You should always take steps to adequately prepare for extreme weather events.
It’s also essential to plan for any potential medical emergencies. Even if you have some medical staff on the premises, are you prepared for anything? Do you have hospital transportation set up if the need arises? If not, think about what you have to do.
There may also be risks specific to your particular event for which you must prepare. Potential questions to ask include:
- Are there any specific fire hazards that you can identify?
- If you are serving food, do you know what is coming in and out?
- What will you do if someone has an unexpected food allergy?
- Could guests become aggressive or belligerent?
Sit down with your team, consider every potential issue, and put it in your risk management plan.
You should start researching and developing your risk management plan during the weeks leading up to your event. Look at every aspect of the event and start identifying the risks. Look at the location, the weather, the guests, and the vendors, and then try to predict what could go wrong. Evaluate each threat by likeliness. Could a threat derail your event or prevent it from happening in the first place? If so, then the ultimate solution may be to reschedule.
Next, you need to create a plan of action that corresponds to each potential risk. So, if there is the possibility of a heat wave, you need a plan for keeping the guests safe. Possible steps could include securing an air-conditioned indoor facility where folks can go if they are feeling overheated. Another part of the plan may be ensuring that there is plenty of water to drink to avoid dehydration.
You should also have a plan to address the needs of guests and have ADA accessibility measures in place at all times. Even though your event is outdoors, accessible parking spaces and ADA-compliant restrooms must be provided. Consider if you will need to modify pathways, such as by adding ramps or platforms, to meet these considerations. All warning signs and informational placards should also meet these standards.
Think of everything, so you are ready for anything.
Once you write your risk management strategy, share it with your team. You need to look at your organization and ensure that employees on every team understand your company’s overarching goals. Since your goal is to have every event go off without a hitch, everyone in your company needs to be aware of what that means and the actions that should be taken if an outdoor event hits an unexpected snag.
The biggest way to manage risk management at your outdoor event on the staff side is to make sure that everyone knows their assigned role — whether it be in guest relations, entertainment management, or logistics. Having specific roles for your staff to take on during the planning and implementation process will not only make things go smoother on the day of, but is a way to build camaraderie among your staff and make everyone feel included at your event.
Proper communication is essential both during training and at the event itself. Brief the team beforehand. If an employee sees a threat, they must know to report it immediately. If they take action to eliminate the danger, they should also communicate that. All modifications to the policy must be shared with everyone in your organization so everyone is on the same page. Since immediate communication may be necessary, prepare by equipping everyone on staff with walkie-talkies or hands-free microphones.
Thoughtful preparation and risk management are essential during outdoor events. By creating a contingency plan ahead of time, you can ensure that the party goes well and that your company’s reputation will stay strong.