Pre-Event: Resolving the Risk Management Problem

Part 2 of 2
In Part One of this article, Chris White founder, chairman, and CEO of the Washington DC-headquartered Global Event Partners detailed the company's new risk management standards and explored why they are important to meeting planners. Now, in Part Two, we'll go inside the process and see how working with DMCs that have such a policy will impact their planning.

Anyone who has been involved in planning a meeting can envision a "nightmare scenario" in which a terrible accident occurs: You hire a bus to transport event attendees from one function to another; a snowstorm creates havoc on the roadways and the bus spins out of control. Whose job is it to handle the fallout?

Unfortunately, such incidents do happen from time to time, and the critical question is always the same: Where is the liability?

At the most fundamental level, settling the question of liability in advance under our new standards amounts to alleviating stress in one area of the meeting planner's job—everyone now knows the "rules of engagement" up front, including who is liable for what and up to what limit, should an accident occur and liability accrue.

In settling the question of potential liability in advance, the planner also saves time and money in planning every meeting. The reasons are simple.

1. The search for suppliers is streamlined. If you have ever spent time searching the Internet to pre-qualify a vendor, you can say with some confidence that a transportation company that is willing to provide full and transparent insurance information and accept reasonable risk, is likely to be a vendor worth doing business with. The standard is, in effect, a "pre-qualifier" for suppliers—a reasonable indication that this vendor is reputable and high quality in many aspects of its delivery.

That's not to say that risk management qualification is the only criterion for evaluating a supplier; there are many. But the less time planners and DMCs need to spend vetting vendors, the more time they can dedicate to what really counts—producing a great meeting.

2. There is true transparency from day one. In shifting the onus of liability to the supplier, the process of vendor selection—always challenging for planners and DMCs—is also made much simpler and more streamlined. Knowing that a transportation company, for example, puts its "money where its mouth is," we no longer need to do multiple layers of research into the company's performance history and ask questions like, "How long has that driver been driving, and does he have an accident record?" All that information must be provided up front; and liability, again, stays where it belongs.

3. There is a trail to follow. In the event of an actual accident, the chain of responsibility afterwards is easy to trace. The last thing a planner wants after an incident is to confront a CEO's question as to who is liable without having the facts at hand to provide clear answers. Under GEP's risk management standards, the answers are clear from the outset.

The key to excellence is being proactive rather than reactive—anticipating a client's needs, problems, or challenges, and going above and beyond to alleviate them. In a nutshell, that is what working with a DMC that has risk management standards does. It clarifies, simplifies, and expedites; but most important, it puts the DMC and planner on the same team in selecting suppliers and producing an event that is as straightforward, cost-effective, and stress-free as possible.

Jennifer Patino is chair of GEP-Americas Advisory Board, and president of Baskow & Associates, a DMC based in Las Vegas, NV.

Originally published May 01, 2008

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