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Meeting Planning Safety: Good vs. Bad?

Often times I’m called a pessimistic planner. That’s not true. I’m just a realist. I wish it was sexy and fun being a planner who’s always looking at what bad stuff can happen. When I write about event safety, like I’m about to do here, I try not to be a complete “Debbie Downer.”

So here’s some good news. The US has inoculated 95 million people against C19. Get your shot, too. Check with your local health department to learn when and where. Do it. Please.

Because if you don’t (Debbie Downer time), COVID could flare up and take a giant bite in our collective butts again. A fourth wave already has the CDC concerned, among other health professionals, and if their predication comes true it’ll be our industry that gets hit the hardest (have you noticed how few hotel workers are getting rehired?).

Another bit of good news. The year 2020 was so full of health and political news, we didn’t hear about any active shooters. The bad news? Last year the country experienced over 600 mass shootings, with more than 500 deaths, up from 463 the previous year. Buried by other pressing stories, most of these acts didn’t get any air time, until the beginning of 2021, with the shootings in Atlanta and Boulder.

There are many possible reasons for the increase, but for meeting professionals it means we need to revisit active threat protocols. The FBI feels these acts will increase, so let’s be prepared.

When it comes to weather and sunny days, the year 2020 saw more of us getting out because of C19. Taking a walk or a bike ride was an easy way to put distance between us and get some fresh air. The down side? In 2020, there were 22 weather and climate disaster events, according to NOAA, with losses exceeding $1 billion each across the country, smashing the previous annual record of 16 events in 2011 and 2017. For planners, this means we need to dust off our emergency action plans and be attuned to weather notices.

More good news. I am not going to get into other safety trends right now, like technology security, business continuity and outdoor event safety. The bad news? Meeting planners still need to prepare for them. However, there are lots of resources out there, even some that are complimentary. And with that, I'll end on a positive note.

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