CIT Forum delegates urged to put crisis plans in place

It’s only a matter of time before a major disaster occurs in the C&I industry and the chances are the organiser will not be prepared. This was the stark message delivered by management crisis consultants Docleaf. Speaking at the CIT Forum 2004 at the Westin Turnberry Resort in Scotland from 22-24 September, Docleaf chief executive David Perl said: "The industry is hopelessly unprepared for a disaster, which will occur." He said most organisers are unaware of their legal obligations to pay due diligence to all aspects of health and safety when it comes to running an event. "Many have not fully responded to the Travel Package Directive that was introduced in 1992 stating that the liability, should anything go wrong with any part of the trip, lies with the company that sold or put together the package," he said. "In the event of an emergency most organisers would not know what to do." He said it was about time the conference industry followed the example of leisure tour operators who have clear and defined crisis management and health and safety checks in place. "Tour operators spend millions each year on health and safety and have teams of people dedicated to handling a crisis. That example of best practice should be complied with in the C&I industry too." Docleaf works with just a handful of C&I agencies, including Universal and McGarvey Russell and World Event Management, but the corporate organisers need to wake up to the situation he warned. "If you invest in one thing make it a crisis management plan. You don’t want to be on a learning curve when disaster strikes," he advised Forum delegates. "It’s not just the legal and moral obligation but the knock-on effect on your brand and shareholder value to be considered." BBC Worldwide head of events for international TV Elaine Gordon said: "This whole issue is a real mine field. While it may be difficult to measure the ROI of putting a plan into place, the potential cost could be a lot more if we don’t respond now."

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