If you live in the Northeast, you’re surely no stranger to the phenomenon of the late-March blizzard. In March of 2017 Winter Storm Stella dropped 3 feet of snow on NYC and in March of 2018 Winter Storm Toby dropped nearly a foot of snow.
Coincidentally, both these storms hit on the same day as the Annual Global Fund Finance Symposium. So, our client decided to do what any reasonable person would — they booked the 2019 event in sunny Miami!
Our team breathed a sigh of relief knowing that snow contingency planning was behind us. Little did we know that we weren’t off the hook just yet! Planning an event in South Florida weather presents a different challenge; guest want to spend time outside in the gorgeous sun, but the climate is conducive to spontaneous thunderstorms - we had to have a perfectly buttoned up rain plan in place. Good thing that’s our specialty!
#TeamSEQ laid out our top 5 tips and tricks for assuring that sporadic storms won’t rain on your parade:
1. Always have an indoor back-up space
If you are booking an outdoor venue, it is essential to ask about indoor alternatives during the initial venue search. The indoor space must fulfill all of the same requirements as the outdoor space, as well as be quickly accessible in the case of an unexpected storm. You must consider every element from guest capacity and guest flow, to whether or not all activations will fit through the venue doors.
2. Know your timeline
Every venue has a time frame during which you must decide whether or not you want to move your event inside due to weather complications. Some venues will require you to make the call 24 hours in advance, while others can be more flexible and work with a 5-6 hour window. Always be clear on your timing and keep your eyes on your weather app in the hours before you have to make the call.
Creating a rain plan is essential, but proper communication of the plan is equally as important. You need to have open communication with all vendors and the venue to understand any additional fees you may incur, the need for additional staff on site, if any electrical issues could arise etc. Often times it’s on us to bring these things up, so questions and open communications are key.
Once the plan is in place, be sure that it is reflected in all of your final documents. Your documents should include the details for the outdoor event plan, along with clear notes of steps, timelines and locations that will change should the event need to move inside. We like to make a specific pre-event cheat sheet for each vendor, the venue and any other relevant parties to be sure everyone has exactly what they need, rain or shine!
4. Every Detail Counts
If you get moved inside, you want your attendees to have as flawless an experience as they would have had outdoors. Don’t forget about the details like signage placement and verbiage, restroom access and maybe even towels in case you need to dry anything off. Pro-tip: make sure to print extras of anything that could get destroyed by a last minute storm (nobody likes a soggy menu card).
Inclement weather might cause a delay for your hired staff, so make sure to have more hands on-site than you think you need. Extra staff will also come in handy if you have to pull all of the event decor from outside into the indoor space, or to redirect guests to the new room. This will add an additional cost, but trust us, it’s better to have too many people than not enough!
The 2019 conference is behind us. Even with the Miami relocation the event had an amazing turnout of over 600 attendees! As for our rain plan, we lucked out with gorgeous weather the entire 3 days. The client has already rebooked in Miami for 2020 and while we’ll definitely have a rain plan again, we’re already hoping we don’t need to use it [fingers crossed]!