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Brenda Rivers, Founder, Andavo Meetings and Incentives, and President, SAFE LLC

An Insider’s View of 2021: Risk Management

Planners need to create a “resilience toolbox” to meet new safety standards, says risk-management expert Brenda Rivers.

MeetingsNet asked 21 events-industry thought leaders to weigh in with their predictions and perspectives for 2021. Find all the commentary here.

Brenda Rivers

Founder, Andavo Meetings and Incentives

President, SAFE LLC

To thrive in the next normal, the meetings and events industry needs a mindset shift. Event organizers must build events with participant safety at the forefront, while the entire events-industry supply chain should work together to make attendees feel safe and be safe.

To minimize risk to a host organization, planners have a legal duty of care to research, to inform, to recommend, and to plan. They must examine, discuss, and prepare for all possible vulnerabilities during the planning of each event. They should seek out best-practices examples, such as those venues with the GBAC Star and AHLA Safe Stay certifications, which will mitigate liability from any transmission of illness. 

At every step of the process—food and beverage, transportation, venue cleaning, venue security, and others—those involved must demonstrate to planners the risk-management strategies they have in place for pandemics as well as other unforeseen potential crises.

Still, the central question remains: Will face-to-face events return at some point in 2021? A prediction would be irresponsible, but here are some suggested initiatives to create a Resilience Toolbox:Do a vulnerability study for every meeting. Develop key risk metrics for location, event size, purpose, and demographics. Use those metrics to determine if your event can or should be face to face, small or large, virtual, hybrid, or rescheduled

Work with leaders who champion a sense of urgency, momentum, and resilience. Strong leadership will work jointly with the event’s supply chain to achieve a unified risk-management strategy

Look back to look forward. Create your risk management strategy by analyzing your 2020 events and any other ones that you can. Adapt your processes to integrate the four duty-of-care standards (research, inform, recommend, and plan) into the process. Include all of the partners in your supply chain

Design policies and procedures rooted in safety, wellness, and sustainability to show potential participants why they will feel safe and how it will happen. With authentic caring and concern before, during, and after an event, attendee confidence will rebound, easing a return to face-to-face events, bringing decreased liability to the organization, and a resilient future for the industry.

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