By Kawania H. Wooten CMP
I don’t know about you all, but none of our risk management plans for events (especially our weddings) included a game plan for outbreaks or pandemics. As you know, this situation is very fluid and a lot of fear is floating around, so we really have to stay close to the facts.
Here are eight (8) practical steps we recommend for creative professionals to use going forward —
1. Seek wise counsel. Before you give any advice, reach out to your attorney and find out what you can say and should avoid saying to your clients. Contact your insurance agent and ask them to explain what’s happening with coronavirus and your industry. There is a lot of incorrect information floating around on social media, so check out the facts on the credible web sites — Then, bookmark those sites to check back for updates. Here are some web sites we recommend referencing —
2. Find out what’s covered. Talk to your insurance agent regarding your coverage first. — I recommend finding out what your worker’s comp insurance covers if one of your team members is exposed to COVID-19 at one of your client’s events. And, while you are at it, ask your attorney if there is any liability you should be concerned with related to coronavirus. Then, double check with your client’s insurance agent to see if their event has coverage. And, reach out to your attorney if you need assistance with your management contract or your client’s event contract — We quickly found out that the Force Majeure clause in one of our event venue contracts did not cover epidemics or communicable diseases.
3. Review your Event Contracts. Unless your wedding or event is taking place in China or Italy, your force majeure (or impossibility) clause PROBABLY won’t cover your client’s event for COVID-19. – Here’s the exception – The clause explicitly references epidemics, pandemics, communicable or infectious diseases
If your client’s contract doesn’t cover the effects of coronavirus, still try to have a discussion with your venue contact and vendor partners — We are finding that some venues, airlines and vendor partners are trying to be empathetic event partners looking to maintain positive relationships.
4. Try to Determine How Each Aspect of Your Events will be Affected. Proactively reach out to the venue contact and vendor partners for your clients’ events. Will the closures in Asia and Italy delay the delivery of your bride’s wedding gown? If your wedding guest count decreases, will your client have to pay attrition fees to the hotel? How about the food and beverage minimum with your caterer? If the answer is yes to any of these questions, I recommend you have a candid conversation with your client.
5. Initiate the Discussion with Your Clients. I’m an old-fashioned wedding pro, so bear with me here — Pick up the phone and call your clients. Your phone call can be very comforting. Follow up with an e-mail message. Communicate the facts only, and let your clients know what steps you already have in place to monitor the progress. Then, share your recommended game plan for going forward.
6. Help Your Clients Communicate Their Game Plan. We are helping our wedding and conference clients craft their communication to their guests, attendees, sponsors and suppliers. This includes their statement for their web site and their e-mail communication. We have advised them to bullet point the facts and let their guests and attendees know when they should expect to hear an update from them.
7. Be Mindful of the Jokes and Memes You Post About Coronavirus on Social Media. It’s so easy to post (or repost) memes and jokes about coronavirus — We get it. Everyone needs a laugh. But, try to remember that people (including clients) are looking to us for advice and it may not play well if they see us making light of this serious situation.
8. Create a Crisis Management Plan. If you don’t already have one create a crisis management plan for each of your events. Reference it prior to and during the wedding or event. Then, work your plan.
Kawania Wooten is the principal consultant at Howerton+Wooten Events, LLC. Known to her friends and family as Kay, she uses artistic skills, her keen attention to the smallest details and her strong commitment to customer service as the hallmark of her business. As the founder of the company, Kawania strives for professionalism, creativity and impeccable organization within every function planned by Howerton+Wooten Events.