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Mission Possible: Why Volcanos, Floods and Snowstorms Can’t Stop Us From Meeting

While natural disasters throw an “unplanned” monkey wrench into the normal rhythm of our events, they don’t have to stop us from meeting.

I have been impressed with the role that event technology and social media have played in events during natural disasters like snowstorms, volcanos and floods this year. Some inspiring and innovative people, like Lindy Dryer from Social Fish, proved that we could create opportunities out of the madness.

Last week at EIBTM in Barcelona, Ruud Janssen and I highlighted a few of these examples and shared some advice with the audience on what they could learn from these events and take back to their own events.

Take a look at the slide deck:

Social Media In Natural Disasters

While our presentation concentrated on the events angle, we discovered an amazing open source crowdsourcing platform called Ushahidi in our research. The developers designed a full portfolio of technology to help crisis teams collect, filter and process real time communications from text and Twitter. Then, turn those messages into actionable information that could be used for rescue missions, etc.

In addition, the Ushahidi platform allows people thousands of miles of way to volunteer their time to help in the rescue and recovery efforts. Pretty cool – if you ask me! (Read More)

Bottom Line

We don’t have to let a crisis stop us from meeting. There is a way to create opportunities despite the madness.

What is the most interesting use of event technology or social media use that you have seen to help an event during a natural disaster in the past two years?

Shameless Plug: The slides above were picked by Slideshare editors to be one of 14 featured presentations of the day on Friday, December 4, 2010. Yes, Ruud and I did feel cool!

Disclosure: My Trip to Barcelona was Sponsored by EIBTM.

4 Comments Post a comment
  1. This is of course excellent news adding to the body of knowledge and to the efforts it takes to help others. Bravo!

    What it does not do is take away the necessity – dire necessity – of assessing and preparing for any possible emergency or crisis that may occur at meetings. Our industry is far from prepared.

    Planners don’t write emergency/crisis plans; suppliers don’t even know what their internal ops plans are in the event of even what I’d call a ‘paper cut’ (power outage in one room). For a potential or actual disaster: ask them where their AEDs are and you may get a blank stare or what they will do if there is an prolonged power outage.

    Nice stuff, Sam, and I’m glad. I’d like to see emphasis on the anticipation when it comes to destination and site selection and the preparation on the part of all of our industry.

    December 6, 2010
    • Thanks Joan,

      I agree with you that this should not replace good emergency planning. Ruud and I heard several times that the best executed responses were based on well thought out plans – that had clear roles and responsibilities and well defined actions.

      As we bring more tech and tech vendors into our meetings, having these plans (with roles and responsibility) is going to be equally important. When things go wrong with the tech onsite, you don’t need vendors blaming each other – you need them working together for a solution first – then going back to assign blame later.

      Thanks again Joan! I hope that you had a great day!

      December 6, 2010
  2. Great work guys! Mike McCurry and I were selected as a featured “How To” for our How to Hold a Hybrid Meeting presentation so I can totally relate to that beaming pride you must feel – and deservedly so. Your preso’s are always great eye candy 🙂

    Anyways, as a recent strandee at EIBTM, I was asking myself the question of what, if any, responsibility the organizers would have in helping me find my way out of the country. I didn’t have any resources at my disposal except for a Twitter hashtag and a long list of Facebook friends.
    Interestingly enough, while I felt utterly alone and lost, I never felt that those who organized the event truly had a responsibility for my well-being once the event ended. It seemed that as an adult who chose to come to this event (although I was a sponsored VIP), it was up to me to find my way out of the situation. Of course, in a corporate situation this would be entirely different.

    Now, with this being said, if organizing an event where I am trying to sell attendance, wouldn’t it behoove me to strengthen the loyalty of existing clientele by stepping in and enforcing the customer support during the “after” portion of the event – particularly in this type of crisis situation? Perhaps this is a missed opportunity for many organizations/associations…
    With the old marketing funnel becoming obsolete in place of the Consumer Decision Journey, the “Bond” segment of the journey is where event marketers need to capitalize on the opportunities presented post-event.

    Great to see you Sam, as always you wow me 🙂

    December 6, 2010
    • Hi Midori,

      You make a great point about strengthening the “After” portion of events. It is definitely a weak area. In my opinion, we need to highlight the “missed opportunity” to our clients and recommend a few simple solutions that help clients capitalize.

      In my work, we are often generating content during the event – ideas, videos, plans, etc. A good post event strategy helps the organization repurpose and leverage all of that energy. Sometimes the plans (and execution) are better than others on the client side.

      I followed your Barcelona return trip while I was taking my own trip home. You had quite an ordeal. It does highlight the fact that EIBTM arrivals are welcoming and effortless – while returns are usually do-it-yourself (DIY). Like you, I usually don’t mind the DIY element…And how cool would it have been to have EIBTM checkin kiosks with competent staff and no lines? It would have given you back a few days of your life and been a nice way to booked a great event for everyone else.

      Thanks for your comments! Glad you made it home safely!

      December 6, 2010

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