Some of the very best events are simple affairs that provide a unique experience delivered with total professionalism. Serene event staff help to create a sense of calm and underpin the perception that everything is as it should be.

Of course that is not always the case. The swan, as it glides smoothly across the lake, is working those legs hard. If things do start to go wrong the serene event manager already knows what actions to take – there are layers of contingency plans in place, which generate confidence and lower the stress level.

The basis for contingency planning is a simple approach – think through everything that can happen at an event and ask what can be done to counter any problems. Research the answers and determine a contingency for each eventuality. Outcomes need to be documented on the event Run Sheet so everyone will be on the same page and then discussed with event staff just prior to the event to ensure everyone, including caterers, security and other on-site staff, is aware of the process.

The development of a solid contingency plan is as creative an exercise as developing the event concept. When working in advance, and with a clear and unfettered mind, contingency planning is a natural and positive aspect of the event plan which allows you to examine any operational weaknesses and to make changes in the plan to avoid or deal with problems.

Contingency planning is not an expensive exercise. It is not about over resourcing or over planning. It is a mental process of thinking through every eventuality and giving consideration to the solution while there is still time to make changes to the event plan itself, and putting in place strategies to deal with problems. It may, in fact, save a great deal of money as a crisis at event time will often end up costing a great deal of money – money that can be saved through forethought.

At each event it is important that a chain of command is established. One can’t have a dispute about who calls the shots during a crisis. The decision making process is delegated with everyone sure at what point a decision has to be elevated to the next level of decision making.

Communication is key – with an agreed method of communicating issues to those who need to know so that as an incident occurs those closest to the incident know who needs to be informed, and how to go about informing them.

Mishaps are a bad thing, wherever and whenever they take place, but the investment in contingency planning pays dividends in dealing with issues quickly, and providing event staff with the comfort of knowing that they have contingencies to fall back on, if needed.