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The Industry’s Future: Risk Factors

Posted on October 19, 2006

From Joan Eisenstodt

Everything we do is risky.  After 9.11.01, many in our industry sat up and paid attention to risk factors we faced for meetings and facilities.  Time passed and we waited for the next crisis before we again paid attention.

The tsunami should have been a wake up call – it devastated an international center of tourism.  Hurricanes Katrina and Rita should have alerted our industry to things to come.  The wars and strife in too many countries should have made us more aware.  Watching tourism struggle in




should heighten our awareness.

In yesterday’s post, I wrote about the water shortages in


and in a post on the MiForum List, I wrote about the impending water shortages in

Las Vegas

.   Currently in


there are water restrictions for hotels.  Is it likely that many planners ask about water supplies or read newspapers local to the destinations to which they take meetings to become aware of situations?  Could your meeting survive without water or on water restrictions?

We have seen a blackout on the East Coast of the

United States



and yet I imagine few planners ask facilities about back up generators. 

We continue to do things the same way we’ve always done them without enough thought to ‘what next’ could hit and disrupt meetings, tourism, and travel. 

In a study done by the American Highway Users Alliance and widely reported in the press, we saw the number of cities that have inadequate methods to evacuate in the event of a catastrophe.  Are you planning your meetings with an eye to the cities that are reported to be safer?  (Report available at http://www.highways.org/pdfs/evacuation_report_card2006.pdf )  I bet not.  It’s still about almost everything except safety.

What will we face in the coming years?  Who is preparing and how for possible contingencies?  Did the ‘spinach scare’ frighten you or did you just figure your meeting would not serve spinach and not question what else might be contaminated?  Have you considered how, if a terrorist attack, hurricane, tornado, major snow or ice storm occurs, how you will ensure the safety of those in attendance at a meeting or en route to a destination? If there is an outbreak of food poisoning or other medical emergency for more than a few people – residents or those at a meeting – what facilities will be available to protect and heal those in attendance? 

What future crises will we have to anticipate and manage?  If we were not prepared before how can we expect to be prepared in the future?

This takes us full circle to the first posts this week in looking at the ability to anticipate, think and be curious about what is around us and what is to come. 

Actions you can take:

1)      Read more.  Start with “A Whole New Mind” by Dan Pink.  Then join The World Future Society (www.wfs.org) and keep up with bigger trends.  Read “Hospitality 2010” and begin to comprehend the larger world in which we live and how it impacts what we do.

2)      Take nothing for granted.  Question everything including the properties with whom you’ve worked in the past.  Suppliers – ask the planners what they are doing to protect the meeting participants and how your facility can integrate its contingency/emergency plans in with those of the group.

3)      Demand better education.  Our industry can do more to provide education that will expand our thinking and prepare us for the future.  We can make that happen. 


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