Event Management - Recovery After Disaster

Goals

To provide case studies on event marketing / management companies / event organizers that have recovered from a major disaster in order to convince event marketers and organizers to continue to communicate their events and spend money on ad campaigns.

Early Findings

Case Study: Hosts New Orleans & Hurricane Katrina

  • After Katrina hit New Orleans, Hosts New Orleans, a Louisiana special events company, took three months to get operations back in business and a full year to get their entire team back in place. Kellie Mathas, now CEO of Crystal Clear Creative, shared four tips on how the company reacted during and got back on its feet after the disaster. No further information could be found on how the company mitigated their losses after this disaster.
  • Mathas’ first tip is “don’t wait to reach out to clients” in asking for their support of the city during this crisis, and to ensure they want to keep their events scheduled (or if not, when/how they’d like to reschedule). She recommends being “an advocate for your city.”
  • Her second tip is to understand that “some customers want to come in and see the devastation” so they can determine if they’d like to keep the event scheduled in the same place. She notes the importance of sharing this burden among executives (or the senior employee group that remained in the area) as this can cause people to “feel overwhelmed and depressed” about the current area conditions.
  • Mathas also recommends encouraging clients that plan to keep scheduled commitments to “opt for nontraditional ways to incorporate givebacks to your city.” This could be through something as simple as a “cans of food built creatively instead of floral centerpieces” or team-building projects helping to rebuild a devastated area, like a playground. She notes that “there are always ways that corporations can and will help,” and tapping into this will keep them interested while helping the community at the same time.
  • Lastly, she notes that business owners and managers will need to be as flexible as possible since “what used to be” and “what your reality is today” are now very different. She states this might mean changing market directions or opening up corporate strategies to stay afloat, and that companies should consider the best ways for them to move with these changes rather than struggling to regain what once was.

Case Study: BBC Destination Management & Hurricane Katrina

  • Bonnie Boyd, the CEO of BBC Destination Management, evacuated her team members before Hurricane Katrina hit, though most were able to keep working remotely. Within several months, operations re-opened in Baton Rouge (instead of New Orleans) with most team members working from the new office. The company was able to pull off a planned event – just months after the storm hit – for a major pharmaceutical company; she shares her tips for other companies to follow in doing the same.
  • Before the storm hits (when the warnings come), Boyd recommends preparing the company for the possibility of decimation by making sure all insurance policies are up-to-date (including those of major vendors), and that the company disaster prep manual is in place (and includes evacuation plans and “relevant emergency training” for personnel).
  • She states how vital it is to “remember the importance of partnerships” during this time. After Katrina, BBC worked together with clients to “successfully relocate a number of contracted and proposed programs to one of the destinations represented by our extraordinary partners.” Their clients appreciated the care the company took in making the changes and believed they’d acted in their best interests. Boyd noted that this helped her company employees feel like they weren’t alone in fighting for survival after the disaster, as well.
  • Boyd also stated that the disaster presented new opportunities for her company to partner with new vendors – specifically “because of our longstanding vendor relationships that BBC could respond early and quickly.” Since they were able to maintain operations and re-open so quickly, they secured contracts for new events and they “were able to support the efforts of early construction, giveback workers, and non-governmental organizations.”
  • Lastly, Boyd states that all companies should “remember your resilience,” and believe that they will make it through this disaster. She notes that one of the most important pieces of this (for clients, especially) is the use of “persistent, positive, and correct marketing” strategies. Beginning as early as they could and doing so throughout repairs to New Orleans, BBC team members continued to attend trade shows, organize travel promotions, and cooperate with local efforts toward recovery. She states, “With solid preparation and strong partnerships, we acted quickly and efficiently on behalf of our clients,” and that is what sustained them throughout the recovery.

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