Every year Meetings Today polls our audience for the Meetings Today Trends Survey, and every year we’re also surprised that the number of planners who respond that they have a risk management plan in place or in the works is so low.

As the coronavirus pandemic roiled the industry, we decided to reach back out to see how that issue is impacting the planners who took the original survey, and to see if risk management is now an increased priority.

BudgetFollowing are key responses, collected during the week of March 16, 2020, from the following Meetings Today readers:

  • Ken Dunham // Executive Director // West Coast Lumber & Building Material Association // Folsom, California
  • Jan Aument // President // Good Plan Jan // Minneapolis-St. Paul
  • Emily Milliot // Senior Partner // AG Communications // Raleigh, North Carolina
  • Lin Guba // Sr. Director Meetings // International Economic // Development Council // Washington, D.C.
  • Lindsay P. // Sr. Professional Development Coordinator // professional state association // serving members in Illinois
  • Sharon Danitschek // CEO // The Military Reunion Network // Snohomish, Washington
  • Rhonda Ostwald // Executive Assistant // Pharmacists Mutual Insurance Company // Algona, Iowa

How has the coronavirus crisis affected your organization?

Jan Aument: Every event between March and May has been canceled. Additionally, all other clients with events booked in June or July are distraught, wanting answers immediately and considering canceling.

Lindsay P.: Several small events have been canceled and committee work has moved to online meetings. Our large annual conference has been canceled for next month based on the Illinois governor’s proclamation and the CDC. We are still working through if the event will be postponed.

[Want to view the full 2020 Survey results? Download your copy now.]

Are you reviewing risk management plans?

Disaster PlanJan Aument: Yes. I am advising all my clients to take out event cancellation insurance (if they didn’t have it already) and including policies on communicable disease. Additionally, we will be including clauses of “impossibility” on any new contracts. We are updating all emergency and contingency plans for each event.

Emily Milliot: Yes, we are and also seeing what others are doing to update theirs. Lots of colleagues are sharing nightmare stories and best practices that we all can learn from.

Lin Guba: Not really at this time. We are just trying to use [our current] plan to get through this. We will be reviewing the plan in light of how it worked.

Has your organization considered event cancellation insurance policies that could cover events such as a virus outbreak?

Lin Guba: Our insurance policy did cover this, but only with certain stipulations. We will be looking into revisiting wording for the next policy.

Sharon Danitschek: An event insurance rep is a speaker at our education summit each year. We talked on the phone this week about policies. She shared 99% of the new policies written will NOT cover pandemics like this.

Are you simply canceling meetings/events, or postponing them?

Sustainable ElementsKen Dunham: Who knows? With information changing so rapidly and the medical situation beginning to show some actions, I am thinking that by mid-June hopefully we are back to the new normal at least.

Rhonda Ostwald: Incentive trip is postponed five months. If our sales meeting is canceled it will not be rescheduled.

Sharon Danitschek: Most events are moving from spring to fall.  However, a hotelier mentioned yesterday that she was not sure she would have a job.

Jan Aument: Two canceled, one is hoping to rebook without penalty for the same time next year, and one is hoping to cancel and rebook within two years due to other contracts already in place for next year. This remains to be seen as we are currently in negotiations.

[Related: Coronavirus Risk Management Tips for Meetings and Events]

What are you hearing from suppliers?

Lin Guba: Initial early reactions were “force majeure” or “impossibility” does not apply as we are open and ready to serve you.  As the severity has increased and more jurisdictions are closing restaurants and large venues, the “impossibility” conversation is changing. We are taking things one day at a time.

Here is a sample from the 2020 Survey:


Download the full 2020 Meetings Today Trends Survey today.

Also, check out the 2019 survey results: Do You Have a Risk Management Plan?