Special Edition: Risk Deja Vu

Yesterday's massacre at the Boston Marathon will not leave our minds. The images and stories, the instilled fear, are all reminders of what we went through on 9/11/01 and at other times.

And yet, as I've written here and elsewhere for more years than I can count, we are not learning - from Oklahoma City, from the first New York World Trade Center bombing, from the train bombs in London and Spain, from 9/11/01, from Katrina or Rita or Sandy. From an event like Newtown happening in a hotel. Nada. Bupkis. Zip. We are oblivious until again the "unthinkable" happens.

Each time a tragedy strikes, we say we will do more to protect people. This story, where it is said we are in a 'new normal', has been written before. Our industry puts in place some plans for evacuation, for sheltering in place, for protecting people and property. Meeting planners and their employing or contracted organizations plan for "paper cuts" and believe they don't have the money or time to prepare for catastrophes.

If you read back in the blogs I've written here and look at the webinars I've done, you'll see repeated attempts to provide wake-up calls and to give guidance. My colleagues Tyra Hilliard, Julia Rutherford Silvers, and Brad Goldberg, and I teach and write and give individuals and groups much of what they need to assess risk and write a good risk management plan. And we know when we ask planners what they've done or put in place, we know nothing or very little has been done. Hotels and other facilities continue to tell us that if they provide their emergency or evacuation plan to us, the terrorists might get it.

Here's my offer - again: email me at eisenstodt@aol.com with "TOC" on the subject line (and be patient if I don't respond quickly) and I'll send you the table of contents I've developed and refined for a risk plan for meetings. It is a beginning of what you need to do. You still will need to assess the risk of a venue, destination, and of vendors.

Then meet with those in your organizations who assess risk - usually for your offices and companies - and talk seriously and at length about off-site meetings and events. Ask the facilities and vendors what they have in place and how you can coordinate with them. Meet with local officials in the destinations of your meetings and prepare for all possible contingencies.

If you're attending the CMP Conclave or the Michigan SGMP Annual Conference, join me in the sessions I'm facilitating. Let's talk about what we can do to protect people and property.

Or will it be deja vu all over again and again and again?

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