How to Make a Solid Event Crisis Management Plan

A thunderstorm appears out of nowhere. The assets don’t arrive on event day. Your best brand ambassador trips and sprains an ankle. Depending on your type of event, these are only a few potential crises you may face. It’s impossible to know the sheer number of unknowns that may threaten your hard work. Event marketers put immense amounts of effort into managing the things they do know, and it’s nearly impossible to consider all that they don’t. We need contingencies to avoid being unprepared when disaster strikes. No activation should go on without a strong event crisis management plan in place.

Why an Event Crisis Management Plan is a Necessity

It’s not hard to imagine the event industry as one of the most unpredictable. As an event marketer, you deal with complex logistics, moving parts, and, of course, people. In some situations, you’re at the mercy of the weather and factors beyond your control. It’s why those in the industry are often left to “fight fires,” which can result in anxiety and frantic decision making. The irony is that real firefighters behave in the opposite way. They’re trained to respond to emergencies. They keep their cool, work as a team, and solve problems. Having an event crisis management plan allows marketers to channel their inner firefighter and tackle a crisis to the best of their abilities.

Things can and will happen beyond any level of preparation or control. But, a strong event crisis management plan helps us to remain calm and level-headed. Then, we can make smart decisions and mitigate issues. We only need to ensure it has steps to prepare, respond, and recover.


Event crisis management plan

Prepare, Respond, and Recover with 7 Event Crisis Management Plan Tips

Be one step ahead when you take these tips into consideration for your event crisis management plan:

Designate a point person.

For every event or activation, designate one person to serve as lead should a crisis occur. When executing large-scale events, this may be the on-site coordinator or manager. For smaller activations or street teams, choose your most capable promo staff member or brand ambassador. Ensure all event staff know who this team member is so that they know to report to him or her in an emergency. This person will set your event crisis management plan in action.

Put health and safety first.

As you consider the many crises that could impact your event and experiential marketing campaign, it’s clear that the health and safety of all individuals on-premise is paramount. This means, for every event, know the locations of exits, as well as the closest hospital and/or first aid station. Depending on the size of the venue, you may need to clearly mark routes to these destinations. Compile this information into a document and make it available to your point person. You can better ensure everyone’s response and recovery when you make these critical details, as well as an emergency contact list, available to everyone using technology, such as a staff app.

Know the venue’s emergency procedures.

When using a hotel or other event venue, or activating at a large festival, for example, it’s safe to assume the facility will have its own crisis management plans. Getting access to it or finding out its details will make your contingency planning for that particular event much easier. It may also change overall plans you’ve established, such as when to contact 9-1-1. An article shares that “some venues prohibit calling 911 because they have an internal emergency response team.” Having this instruction would impact your event crisis management plan.


Train event staff on basics.

Be sure to share the information you compiled above to event staff as part of your event or activation training. Having a basic understanding of what’s expected of them – where to report, how to get assistance, etc. – will allow them to act faster and with confidence if necessary. Empower them to help attendees first, but only when keeping themselves out of harm’s way. When partnering with an event staffing agency, their team can facilitate this training and ensure you have competent individuals on the front lines. 

Be insured.

Being fortunate to host several events with no issues may cause some to let their guards down. But, as discussed, anything can happen at anytime, making it a smart strategy to insure your events. Insurance policies are available and help to cover various expenses. These may include coverage for property damage or bodily injury should you be liable. In the event of cancellation, such policies may cover expenses or deposits, helping to mitigate the financial impact.

Look to others for guidance.

You may not have to reinvent the wheel when you ask your peers for a look at their event crisis management plans. Or, check with industry associations that may offer templates. For example, the Institute of Electrical and Electronics Engineers realizes the number of events that take place within its industry and has made available an emergency action plan for reference. Further, it’s a smart practice to speak with the person responsible for your company’s overall contingency plans. You may need to follow certain guidelines for consistency. 

Regularly review your plan.

Getting an event crisis management plan in place doesn’t mean your work is done. The hard part may be over. But, as the saying goes, there’s always room for improvement. Schedule a periodic review of your plan to ensure no edits are necessary, such as changes in personnel or company policies. And should a crisis strike, be sure to evaluate the response and recovery efforts that unfolded as a result. Having to put the plan into action may uncover holes, allowing you to revise and ensure all your bases are covered next time.


While we work hard at Elevate Staffing to ensure your events go off without a hitch, we know issues can and will occur. That’s why we employ the best team members and event staff, trained to remain cool under any circumstances. Contact us to learn how our teams will bolster your event crisis management plan.

Author: Zara HickeyZara is the Managing Director and Head of EMEA at Elevate Staffing. Based out of Elevate's Shoreditch office since 2013, Zara is a true born and bred Londoner, who can usually be found cooling down from agency life in a yoga studio, or out in the countryside with her Labrador.


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