Keeping Things Moving: Meetings Go On Despite Sandy

While Hurricane Sandy cancelled or rescheduled many events, some association meetings starting right before or after went on as planned. What does that mean for staff and attendees?

Sandy is a name that many will never forget, especially meeting planners, many of whom had their meetings and conventions on the East Coast either cancelled or rescheduled as a result of the devastating storm. But what happens when your event that is already taking place or about to take place in another part of the country is affected?

It’s important to also recognize association meetings teams for going above and beyond to deliver first-rate service to their members and speakers in the wake of a weather disaster.

Take the American Health Lawyers Association, for example. Earlier this week it was holding its Fundamentals of Health Law program in Chicago. According to a post on AHLA’s Facebook page, one of the program’s speakers, Todd Bartos, who was scheduled to present on liability, was grounded in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, because of the storm. But AHLA still wanted to hold the session. So what did staff come up with? They decided to use the video-chat and instant-messaging app ooVoo—a first for the organization. Bartos could be seen on the screen, while he spoke through a cell phone, which was then picked up by a microphone onsite.

And AHLA wasn’t the only association team Sandy kept on their toes. Staff at the International Facility Management Association knew that the storm would have an impact on its World Workplace 2012 Conference, which began two days ago in San Antonio, Texas. Recognizing that the weather would likely leave some attendees unable to attend—since many would be dealing with the cleanup at facilities they manage up and down the East Coast—IFMA offered them the option for either a full refund or transfer credit for the 2013 meeting as soon as the weather forecast turned bleak.

And while these weather-related twists and turns could have financial implications for associations involved, it’s important to also recognize these association meetings teams (and the many others out there not mentioned in this post) for going above and beyond to deliver first-rate service to their members and speakers in the wake of a weather disaster. Doing so likely meant extra hours in the office and possibly extra time in airports and extra nights in hotels as bad weather left staff affected as well.

I’m curious to hear from other associations about how they’re dealing with Sandy’s impact on their meeting attendees and speakers. Or how has your organization responded when your members have been significantly affected by a past weather event?

(photo by chb1848/Flickr)

Samantha Whitehorne

By Samantha Whitehorne

Samantha Whitehorne is editor-in-chief of Associations Now. MORE

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