As we move into the fall conference season, the weather can become increasingly unpredictable. This is especially the case along the Gulf Coast, but even if you’re not hosting there you should still keep an eye on weather reports to better prepare your conference for weather-related disturbances.
The Coterie Spark team always recommends the following when planning fall conferences:
Have a backup plan
For obvious reasons, conference hosts love to take advantage of cooling fall temperatures and provide outside events. Depending on the region you’re hosting in, however, that could quickly become a headache. In short, you’re going to want a fully fleshed-out backup plan.
One way to do this is to talk with venues about indoor spaces they can provide if the weather turns. Alternatively, your planner can arrange for covering such as a tent that could keep your party going rain or shine. Vendors are critical resources too, especially if you’re hosting outside your hometown. They will have a better eye for shifting weather patterns and can help you decide when to move inside.
Embrace the highs and lows
With weather extremes come added responsibilities and costs. In cold weather, consider budgeting for heaters and things to keep guests warm and comfortable such as branded scarves, hats, or blankets. Of course in warm weather, you’re going to want to brand sunglasses or fans instead. These items serve two purposes: a practical one that shields your attendees from the elements, as well as a memorable keepsake that keeps your conference top of mind long after it wraps. Always be marketing.
Mother Nature is worried you’re not eating properly!
Take the weather into consideration when it comes to your catering too. In cold weather, offer fun warm beverages and comfort foods. Lighter, more vibrant food and beverage options are always a hit when temps start to rise. If you’re hosting a conference in the middle of a late heatwave, be sure to also provide your guests with plenty of shaded areas to sit and eat, as well as easy access to hydration stations.
Those gusts will call your bluff
The weather report might show a shining sun and blue skies but are you keeping an eye on the wind? Wind is typically the most overlooked weather event in conference planning, but it’s also among the most treacherous. Wind can cause power outages, blow away table linens and registration materials, and even knock down signage that hasn’t been properly wind-proofed.
Will you stay or will you go?
We’ve seen floods, hurricanes, and even dust storms. These disasters present a severe risk to your guests’ safety, so you need to know when it’s time to call it a day and send everyone home. Remaining calm in these situations is critical, as is working closely with your venue and communicating often with vendors and guests. The best attendee experiences are built on thoughtful planning and transparency, so don’t hold back and then cause panic when it’s time to shut down.
Budget, budget, budget!
If there’s one thing to spend big on, it should be guest comfort. Nobody is going to care how renowned your speaker is if they’re standing ankle-deep in mud, are soaking wet, or shivering throughout the keynote. Tents. Branding. Wind-proofing. All of this costs extra, but you’ll be glad you did it in the calm after the storm. In fact, you’ll probably be basking in rays of compliments and accolades.
There are so many ways to prepare your conference for inclement weather. Reach out today to see how we can help you stormproof your big day.