Leading Meeting Professionals

Professional Convention Management Association

June 03 2013

How Risky Is Your Meeting?

By David McMillin, Staff Writer

It’s the one word that every meeting planner hates but cannot avoid: risk.

While all planners worry about the risks their meetings pose, a new survey from American Express Meetings & Events highlights that many planners are struggling to lessen their liabilities in a few key areas. With responses from 145 meeting planners and 115 responses from organizational leaders, the research highlights that some members of the industry may need to revisit their approaches to managing risks. In fact, 51 percent of meeting planners believe that risk is not properly mitigated in their organizations.

“In an environment of increasing regulatory scrutiny and heightened awareness around security and safety issues, complacency in the meetings and events planning process can have serious financial, legal and reputational consequences,” Milton Rivera, vice president, business development, American Express Meetings & Events, said in a statement.

“This research highlights the disparity between the precautions and procedures meetings leaders and planners feel should be or believe to be in place and actual current activity,” Rivera added. “It demonstrates how crucial it is for companies’ meeting planning processes to be formalized, documented and controlled as a means to minimize risk.”

In Case of Emergency

From forced show cancellations during last year’s hurricane season to the Boston Marathon bombings in April, some meeting professionals have been forced to deal with worst-case scenarios in recent months.

SEE ALSO: Post-Marathon Meetings: A View from Boston

However, the research shows that there’s quite a difference between being forced to deal with them and being ready to deal with them. Sixty-four percent of respondents indicated that they do not currently have a method to track meeting attendees in a time of crisis.

“One of the essential pieces of managing meetings and events is being prepared for the unexpected, which is somewhat of an oxymoron,” Vicky Betzig, Director, Meetings & Events, PCMA, says. “We need to make sure that a very comprehensive Emergency Action Plan is in place for every meeting we do.”

“This is not about challenges such as no-show speakers or shipments arriving late,” Betzig adds. “It is about developing and communicating a plan on how to respond to an emergency that impacts the meeting attendees’ safety and security. It’s not about preventing emergencies. It’s about to respond if one occurs.”

SEE ALSO: Do You Have a Disaster Plan?

Keeping the Bottom Line Top-of-Mind

While planners cannot prevent disaster scenarios, they can take steps to address another key area of the research: their meetings’ expenses. It’s crucial to keep costs low, but the survey reveals that some planners are failing to take advantage of new tools and technologies to manage costs. Eighty-five percent of respondents indicated that they still rely on spreadsheets for budget tracking.

SEE ALSO: Why the Cloud is a Planner’s Best Friend

“Keeping close tabs on the meeting expenses is critical to the meeting’s financial objectives,” Betzig says. “Meeting managers are increasingly responsible for bringing the meeting in at or under budget, and using new technologies to make sure that happen is an effective way to track costs so we don’t lost sight of where we are financially.”

However, the survey highlights that monetary mishaps may be out of the planners’ hands. Fifty-two percent indicated that they don’t even receive budgets when meeting planning begins.

Want to see how your meeting lines up with the rest of the respondents in the survey? Click here to learn more and compare your risks with the rest of the industry.

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