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Expect the unexpected


Jul 23, 2007 | Editors

I must admit to feeling pretty sorry for all those people who had organised some kind of event last weekend. Actually, it’s not just last weekend, it’s just about every weekend this summer.

Driving home from shopping on Saturday afternoon I passed by a church where I knew a friend of a friend was getting married. The cars were all there and the ushers were outside handing out the racecard to arriving guests. Unfortunately this was taking place during a monsoon-like downpour and the ushers were also having to operate a convoy system with golf umbrellas in an effort to get people into the church in as dry a state as possible. It didn’t look like they were being too successful. I learned later that the bride had to drive round the block a couple of times waiting for a break in the rain in which to dart unceremoniously up the pathway and into the service.

I guess this scenario was repeated outside churches and registry offices up and down the country last Saturday and to all these can be added numerous fêtes, garden parties, sporting fixtures and a whole raft of other events that were supposed to take place that day.

Now, I don’t think it’s making too much of a sweeping statement to suggest that the reason these events were taking place on 21 July was to a large extent the expectation of fine, or at least, reasonable weather. The start of the third week of July is high summer and it’s a pretty safe bet that the weather will be kind.

I, however, would never put my house on that bet.

Force Majeur, Act of God, whatever you want to call it, the fact remains that you can do all that you possibly can to make your event a success but, unfortunately, there will always be far greater forces at work to confound you.

Look at what happened a few years ago on the opening day of the very first Exhibiting Show at Excel. The organisers had done everything to ensure an excellent couple of days, the show looked great and everything seemed set fair. But, at the eleventh hour there was a tube strike which rendered travel to the venue rather difficult.

What was interesting about this was that a healthy number of visitors battled through heavy traffic to make it along. Indeed, the exhibitors reported a very good day because those visitors that had got there were there because they really wanted to go. The Jonny-come-latelys stayed away.

The point of this is that the content of the event drove the visitors’ efforts to get to the venue, they felt that it would be worth some extra hardship.

This is probably a lesson for organisers of most events. Going back to that wedding of a couple of days ago, one can only presume that the guests put up with getting wetter than they had hoped because it was an important event and they wanted to be there to share it.

And the moral of the story? Of course you can be unlucky with some totally unforeseen occurrence but if you’ve done the groundwork during the organising process you should have gone a long way towards ensuring that such damage as may be done to your event will be greatly limited.

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