If only live events came with “rain checks.” Sadly, those only work at grocery stores and car washes. Live events are not so forgiving. The only thing you can count on is that anything can happen, and almost always does: cancelled flights, misdirected shipments, acts of God. And that’s the short list. There will always be things that are beyond your control, but if you’ve got a solid contingency plan, you’ll have a better chance of skating past disaster and sleeping at night. Here is a basic checklist to help you prepare for almost anything.

Even a light shower can ruin an outdoor event. You don’t want your guests (or your equipment) to be drenched by an unexpected downpour, so a weather contingency plan is critical.

  • Check weather forecasts frequently prior to the event and always have a sheltered location reserved just in case.
  • Establish a process for moving the event or sections of it to other times or venues.
  • Have transportation and labor in place to relocate the event, if necessary.
  • Have a pop-up tent or tarp for worst-case scenarios.
  • Make sure your bad-weather contingency plan is clearly and concisely written. Distribute it to your entire team.

It happens. Your key speaker, celebrity guest or DJ cancels at the last minute leaving a big hole in your program. The show must go on! What do you do? Consider your options in advance.

  • If you’ve contracted talent through an agency, they should be your first stop for a solution. Make sure you have a live contact, no matter what time of day or night, and work with them to get a replacement.
  • Can’t locate a replacement? Identify someone from the event team who can step in, just in case.
  • Have a fun, easy-to-implement activity in your back pocket – a trivia challenge, a sing-along, a game of skill – to keep the audience engaged.

Breakages, losses or power failures can ruin your day, but if you’ve got a solid contingency plan, you should be able to manage the worst of them.

  • Have your technicians check and recheck the equipment before the event starts.
  • Always keep spares and backup systems.
  • Know where stores are in the area. You may be able to find a needed tool or part with a quick trip to the local hardware or grocery store.
  • Keep petty cash to cover last minute needs (and keep all receipts!).

Expect the unexpected and be prepared to get creative. Stay calm and address the issue immediately. Identify the best options. Above all: smile – you’ve got a killer contingency plan!

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