Summer is definitely upon us - invoking images of beaches, pools, picnics, ice cream, lemonade, and movies under the stars. Kids are out of school, families are on vacation, and calendars are sagging under the weight of outdoor events and festivals. It’s the perfect time to be in the experiential marketing business… until that perfect balmy summer day you planned on turns out to have a heat index of 105 with 95% chance of thunderstorms. While no one can control the weather, there are some ways to beat the heat (or cold) while planning your next outdoor event.
1. Manage Expectations Early and Often
This is true for clients and guests. During the planning process, make sure your client takes into account potential weather woes based on your location, and keep the conversation real. Source an alternate indoor venues to offer as contingency plan and give suggestions on ground (e.g. tarps, turf) and aerial (e.g. umbrellas, tents) coverage to keep guests comfortable. Make sure the discussion covers marketing strategies and how information will be disseminated to guests (i.e. social media, text alerts) as the event date approaches. Designate a team member to continually monitor weather conditions weeks and days prior to the event and update client and event staff frankly and calmly so there are no surprises. Most importantly, make sure that the client understands the parameters of your weather action plan and that there are measurable guidelines that dictate the move, postponement or cancellation of the event.
2. Have a Plan. Actually, Have Several
Create a weather action plan tailored to your outdoor event. Does your event rely on electrical equipment? Are you activating an inflatable obstacle course? How will volatile temperatures/wind/rain affect these event elements? Create a document and appoint a team leader to inform both client and event staff of the parameters of this plan. Employ local weather services and anemometers to track wind speeds prior to and during the event. Keep paramedics and EMTs on site or on call. Lastly, make sure you have an evacuation plan ready and agreed upon for all staff to implement should negative conditions arise.
3. Make Safety the 1st Priority
This one is pretty simple. Be smart. Be safe. Don’t take risks. Severe weather happens and guest and staff safety will always outweigh any other consideration.
4. Don’t Overlook the Obvious
Plan according to your location. If you’re outdoors in the summer, schedule event hours in the morning or late afternoon. Provide potable water access (i.e. bottled water, water stations, water fountains, food trucks), shade, misting fans, seating, and restrooms for guests. Also, plan on being the guests’ emergency kit. If your outdoor field day event is scheduled for August in Atlanta, don’t assume that guests will come prepared with sunscreen, shade, bug spray, snacks, or hydration. Have essentials on hand to keep everyone happy, and you won’t be sweating from stress, you’ll only be sweating from the humidity!