One of the current central themes of the Slovenian media is the prohibition of organising events inside one of the festivals that is held across the country these days. I have to admit that I fully agree with organisers and I share the anger over the rigid bureaucrats who are able to destroy everything they touch. This is a serious and irreparable damage, which may be initiated by either stubborn individual bureaucrats or environmentalists. In either case, the incident has revealed a much broader issue that very much concerns all of us in the field of organising events.
It is necessary to begin with a clear difference between public and private interests. As an organiser, you must know where your private profit interest collides with the public interest. This eternal conflict drives the majority of similar crisis stories around the world.
We should therefore be thinking about event crisis management much earlier than just a week beforehand, perhaps before an arbitrary decision by officials to destroy your project. Each private event organiser must clearly define the objectives, from increasing brand awareness and direct sales to a very simple profit. When an event is organised by a private organiser, the likely key objective is probably profit-making, which will bring happy participants and full pockets. The main reason for participants to attend is the basic programme that the organiser has promised to meet. [pullquote]In my experience, the cancellation of a main programme is neither forgiven nor forgotten. [/pullquote]Can you imagine a rock festival, for which you pay an entrance fee, but suddenly the main stars are cancelled? A key commentator has likened the situation of an event as to similar as if rock was left without a guitar.
Pleading public interest of an event won’t help here, much less will moaning that due to the ineptitude the entire economic chain, from accommodation providers, local tourist organisations, caterers and organisers will all be financially harmed.
The story is even more crystal clear to sponsors who in such situations require immediate repayment of funds via lawyers and for even more money as they will claim to have suffered moral damages. Therefore, it is necessary to think about crisis situations well before they occur. Risk management is not an empty phrase; I’m learning from my own mistakes, but the basic message that I learned in Cankajev dom was to always have prepared A, B and sometimes event C scenarios.
Therefore, the current spin in the direction of paging media, problematic conferences and protest gatherings is much different from the real problem. We live in a complex world and what is happening in the field of event management is the specialization of knowledge and experience. In the flood of events that break out every summer it seems then that nothing could be easier than to make money with the organisation of festivals, events and celebrations. However, the reality can be cruel, and sometimes even brutal.
Every time I hear of such a similar situation, I cannot forget the memory of our dear colleague, Rok Klančnik, who tackled crisis management in tourism head on. Lessons are very useful for event organisers and, as Rok would say, teamwork, support and cooperation is necessary to overcome the crisis, whether the carriers are local, regional or national companies.
In other words: the lonely rider will struggle to survive in a crisis!