First the economy, then bad press and boondoggles, and now swine flu? What's next, locusts?
Anyway, I am hoping that many, if not most, meeting planners took the crisis management hint when SARS put a scare into the meetings business (with a 16k attendee casualty rate for the American Association for Cancer Research annual meeting in the spring of 2003, among others). Or when the possibility of an avian flu pandemic started pecking at our collective consciousness two years later. You all did create your crisis management action plans then, right?
For the one or two who perhaps haven't gotten around to it yet, please get your ducks in a row now. Here's a crisis management action plan to get you started. Freeman has put together a terrific business continuity blueprint that you can download from IAEE's site. There are also lots of resources available on MeetingsNet (do a search for crisis management, pandemic, etc., for a bunch of relevant articles).
While we wait to hear how this develops, keep your fingers crossed that this latest potential disaster will ultimately end up being more of a wake-up call than something we wish we had prepared for but never thought would actually happen. (Here's the best pandemic update site I've found so far: pandemicflu.gov.)
If anyone has an upcoming meeting in an affected area, my thoughts are with you. Stay safe.
Update: U.S. Travel has just set up a Swine Influenza Dashboard that includes feeds from ECDC alerts, CDC Tweets, WHO alerts, and customized news feeds for airlines, airports, hotels, travel agents, employees, preparedness, and treatments. According to a press release, new feeds will be added daily.