Advance planning and the ability to react nimbly are the keys to managing a meeting in a crisis.
It’s highly unlikely that the first concern of anyone who watched the scenes of civil unrest unfold in Baltimore last spring—even the most committed association executive—was the riots’ impact on conferences in the city. There were so many other priorities: public safety, protection of property, and, of course, the disturbing questions of law enforcement and race that ignited the protests.
But the fact remained that meeting planners at the American College of Occupational and Environmental Medicine had a tough, on-the-spot decision to make about whether to go ahead with their annual meeting in Baltimore that week. And they needed to communicate that decision clearly and quickly to members who planned to attend.
ACOEM’s dilemma represents only one among many recent examples of the critical need for crisis planning around major conferences and other association events—a topic we thought was particularly timely for this year’s Associations Now Meetings Issue. As Rob Stott reports, ACOEM and other associations that have found themselves in similar situations (from the Boston Marathon bombing to Hurricane Katrina) have responded most successfully when they planned for the unexpected and leveraged relationships with local CVBs to stay connected with authorities during emergencies. For more on their experiences and the lessons they learned, check out Rob’s story here.
Meanwhile, changes in demographics and technology that are challenging associations in nearly every area—from membership to marketing to governance—are making waves in the meetings business too, as associations strive to create more inclusive conference experiences and adopt tools like digital signage to better manage their events. You’ll find more on those trends in this issue as well.
Do you have an association meetings story to share? Email us at [email protected].