Meetings Pro Tip: Navigate the State of the Supply Chain

Event planners, including associations, are feeling the impacts of supply shortages. A little honesty and a lot of communication could help you get in front of these challenges.

Between the glut of e-commerce orders, the pandemic, and the unstable state of global diplomacy, a lot of factors have created a supply chain shortfall in recent months—something that might mean that your swag could be stuck on a container ship somewhere, with no easy way to get it off.

But even with supply chain challenges, there is room to build great events—especially if you’re willing to focus on strong communication and flexibility.

What’s the Strategy?

Simply put, get a better understanding of the supply chain at the moment so you have a strong idea of what you’re working with.

On the Personify blog, senior content marketing manager Daria Knupp recommended taking steps to understand the shape of the supply chain by conducting an internal audit.

“The audit’s goal is to assist you in detecting weaknesses in your supply chain and resolving pain points and bottlenecks that will increase supply chain flexibility, agility, and overall efficiency,” Knupp wrote.

Other strategies Knupp suggested include strengthening bonds with vendors, deciding on potential contingency plans for venues, diversifying suppliers so you’re not as dependent on one, and building up inventory, where possible.

She also recommended a little bit of honesty.

“Your attendees and exhibitors will not want to be caught off guard, and they will undoubtedly feel for you,” she added. “Keep them updated on what is happening behind the scenes and what lies ahead.”

Why Is It Effective?

Beyond helping prevent potential lost goods, it could prevent your organization from bearing the brunt of unexpected added costs in trying to work around supply chain issues.

Recently, EventMB highlighted the work of the event planner Dahlia El Gazzar, who noted that a client of hers had to have goods shipped to Long Beach, California, rather than Savannah, Georgia—adding significant costs to the shipping process and requiring the delivery to be trucked across the country.

“All this results in suppliers increasing their pricing to customers to recoup their escalating costs,” she stated.

What’s the Potential?

Even with these challenges, it’s still possible to put on a great event. You just have to think creatively.

That’s what the wedding industry is doing to manage the supply chain during a difficult time. In a recent interview with, wedding planner Paula Marrero explained that the industry was working hard to make it clear to couples that they may need to be willing to think of a plan B—and that the industry is stepping up, thinking of solutions to the problems facing the wedding supply chain.

“Nothing is guaranteed,” Marrero told the outlet. “You have to think outside the box.”

That’s advice that association pros could use right now in their efforts to minimize the impact of supply chain challenges.

(shaunl/E+/Getty Images Plus)

Ernie Smith

By Ernie Smith

Ernie Smith is a former senior editor for Associations Now. MORE

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