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Flexibility will be the keyword for events in 2021.

Andy Robertson

Many event organisers are deep into their planning for events in 2021, most opting for dates in the latter part of the year. Such is the uncertainty over the future effect of the coronavirus pandemic that event organisers are taking on the role of risk manager, what are the typical steps required for this change in focus? 

Traditional contingency planning are plans that lessen the damage of the risk when it occurs, however, the effect of the pandemic is to some extent already known. Widespread infection rates lead to restrictions on movement and crowd gatherings. In theory this should make the event contingency plan easier to put together. It is safe to assume that the infection rates or ‘waves’ cannot be predicted despite intense modelling by government bodies. This has implications for event contingency plans and event organisers should incorporate much flexibility in their contingency plans. The typical contingency planning process may include the following steps:

For event organisers this will include venues, vendors and contractors for example. The effect on these supplier businesses in 2020 has already been severe so for event organisers it makes sense to have a reliable source of alternative suppliers. When booking performance artists for example introduce flexible contracts in anticipation of event cancellation or an artist falling ill or being unable to travel and build a list of tentative artists that can step in just in case.

The events team will likely have been impacted by the pandemic either being forced to work remotely or falling ill themselves. Set up clear policies and procedure to limit the effect of remote teams and losing staff to sickness. Ensure all work is securely documented and stored online for easy access by other team members.

Clearly communicate to ticket buyers the flexibility being built into dates and artist line ups for example. Of course, customers are mostly aware of the pandemic effects so make it clear what happens if an event is cancelled, particularly with regards to refunds or rescheduling. 

Keep up to date with government advice.
Continuously be aware of restrictions on movement and events and ensure there is a clear understanding of the difference between advice and mandatory restrictions.

Most events in 2020 were cancelled and postponed to 2021, however this does not guarantee that the revised dates will still go ahead. Event organisers can get creative and perhaps duplicate their entire event for alternative dates and venues. Planning now for the duplicating of an event will make the contingency planning easier and save time and effort should the alternative plan need to be implemented. 

For any event organisers planning their 2021 events using a software management platform like
Festival Pro gives them all the functionality they need to plan every aspect of their event. The guys who are responsible for this software have been in the front line of event management for many years and the features are built from that experience and are performance artists themselves. The Festival Pro platform is easy to use and has comprehensive features with specific modules for managing artists, contractors, vendors, volunteers, sponsors guestlists and ticketing. The built in project management and dynamic calendar scheduling make it easier to switch key aspects to revised dates and venues.  

Image by Anete Lusina via Pexels

Andy Robertson
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