Associations and Event Risk Management

Associations and Event Risk Management

Your association staff have spent countless hours, weeks and even months planning every detail of your upcoming convention, trade show, seminar or networking event, from selecting the perfect expert speakers to building a robust social media plan. Along with the production schedules and planning meetings, don’t forget to carefully consider your event’s risk management plan.

There are as many kinds of event risks as there are stars in the sky. A proactive, thorough risk management plan can help you build strategies for things like injury; equipment failure; cancellations; compliance; traffic; waste; noise; poor weather; alcohol licensing; and local, state and federal regulations, to name just a few. Lack of a contingency plan for any and all of the above can have severe consequences, including financial and reputational loss.

Here are a few items to consider when preparing an event risk management plan:

  • A great place to start is with a risk-factor analysis. Look carefully at the type of event your team is planning and consider any specific concerns or needs. Make a list and prioritize it according to risk severity. From there, develop concrete strategies for each item. This might help you determine what risks are worth taking.
  • Consider your collaborators and partners and involve them early (or avoid them, as the case may be). Do you need legal expertise or help from loss control? Should you avoid a particular vendor? Engage with colleagues early and often so that everyone is familiar with expectations. Be sure to delegate appropriately during these discussions. Who is able to make decisions during the course of an event? Is that person empowered to do so?
  • Think about positive Not all risks are created equally, and sometimes pushing the envelope leads to innovation and other breakthroughs. Possible positive risks might be things like having too many attendees and not enough convention space or having too many people use your app at the same time, causing it to crash. How can you exploit these positive risks?


Your event risk management plan shouldn’t be a mere afterthought. It’s important to not only devote time well in advance of your event to assessing risk but to make risk management an integrated part of your organization’s overall business plan. It should be reviewed periodically and updated as rules, regulations, or circumstances change.

What steps does your organization take prior to planning an event and are they sufficient? What risks are of particular concern to you?