Good event planning takes into consideration some of the common things that might go awry. If you have contingency strategies in place your team will more easily be able to navigate through the changes and support each other in the decision making, should the need arise. As with most elements of event planning, a lack of attention to details can turn common hurdles into frustrations and "urgencies" that could have been avoided.
Making Rain Plans
If your team is planning an outdoor event, BEFORE advertising it, be sure you have considered how it will change if rain threatens to ruin your day. When the event can reasonably fit indoors, and you can obtain a reservation for a back-up indoor location, that might be your best solution. The backup reservation should be made the same time that you book your outdoor location.
What if the event (like a big carnival) can’t fit well indoors, or the big venues are already booked?
Consider scheduling a Rain DATE instead of location and advertise it. (Yes. Of course it could still rain on your “plan b” rain date, and in that case you might consider lining up an indoor modified back up plan for the reschedule date, even though your event design will be compromised by bringing it indoors.)
Is it ok to advertise an event that will be “RAIN OR SHINE”?
YES - As long as you modify your plans sufficiently to make sure your event is safe, you can proceed in wet weather. Consult with student programs about the things you will need to consider for safety and success even in the wind and rain.
Is it ok to simply cancel an event if it rains?
YES. Your advanced advertising should say, “This event will be cancelled on account of rain. Call x2045 (MHC Info Desk) to confirm”.
How do we work out a Rain Plan if we are contracting vendors, musicians, carnival items, etc.?
There are many customized answers to this question. It can be done, but it has to be done when you first negotiate your contracts and service orders. Please consult with the professional staff in Student Programs to devise a plan.
If it is raining or threatening to rain, how and when do we implement our Rain Plan?
Making this call can be tricky and sometimes unpopular and takes a person (or small team) with confidence in their decision making abilities. Sometimes skies are blue early in the day, but major storms threaten to hit during your event. You need to decide if it’s safe, fiscally smart, and worth proceeding. Again this plan is custom tailored to your specific event but some elements common to most Rain Plans are:
Who will make “the call” (the decision)?
And if more than one person, when and where will you meet to reach a decision? It is important that the whole group agree to support the decision of these delegates.
What safety concerns if any need to be considered?
High winds, wet dance areas, outdoor electrical sources that are not under safe cover - should all weigh into a smart call.
Know in advance the costs/losses associated with cancelling, moving or postponing your event vs. going forward with potentially smaller attendance. This information will sometimes way into borderline decisions.
When will you make the call? the night before? the morning of? 3 hours before? (some time-lines will depend upon contracts you have signed).
Who needs to be notified?
- All contracted services (vendors, musicians, performers, rental companies)
- The Conference & Events Office, if it is still during business hours so they can cancel campus services (x2153)
- The campus Dispatcher (x2304)
- The Blanchard Info Desk (x2045)
- All members of your event team
- PUT A SIGN WITH RAIN PLAN INFO AT THE PRIMARY LOCATION OF YOUR EVENT
Does the event team need to meet anyway to re-group for Plan B? Where? When?
Snow Storms / Ice Storms /Power Outages
Generally speaking, if the college is closed because of a snow or ice storm, or mechanical disruptions on campus, student events will also be cancelled. Exceptions might be events that are planned predominately for on campus students who don’t need to travel, and those events that don’t require additional campus services from staff or faculty personnel who will not be on campus in the storm. Consult with the Office of Student Programs and follow most of the same advice as listed above for proceeding if an outdoor event is rained out.
Presenter/Performer is sick or delayed in travel
If you have knowledge sufficiently well in advance to publicize the cancellation, it is best to work with Student Programs and your presenter to try to reschedule. Contractual agreements & Ticket sales/refund arrangements will weigh into how you handle this contingency.
If the news comes in last minute and you already have audience in the house, or on the way, you might choose to think creatively about an alternate offering. Do not plan to stall the start of an event for longer than 20 minutes, without communicating the changes to your audience.
If you need to delay and suspect that the event can still take place with a late start time (1-2 hours)
- Check first to make sure the venue is still available
- Decide if the group wants to present the program late
- Set a clear new start time
- Communicate the decision to everyone