I was recently reflecting on the five year anniversary of my business and was reminded very quickly of the world events that helped kick start the company. We started ASC in July of 2001 - and when September rolled around you may remember the turmoil that surrounded annual conferences and travel.
So it is 2006 and I worry more than ever about what associations will do should their annual conference need to be canceled? While prudent organizations have insurance for such things, the insurance doesn't address the bigger set of questions that will most assuredly come up. Here are some questions to ponder:
- How quickly can your association disseminate (push) critical information to your entire industry or profession?
- How quickly could you get a vast number of your members together in a synchronous (real time) way?
- Many of us are located in major metropolitan areas - what would happen if your staff could not get to the office? How quickly could you reach your entire membership?
- If your annual meeting was canceled or indefinitely postponed, what plans have you made to provide members with critical content during the interim?
These were questions that very few organizations pondered prior to September 11th. However, as the fifth anniversary approaches I'm not sure enough organizations have asked and answered these questions. The technologies available to us have drastically changed, and I would argue, did so as a result of our technology needs after 9/11. Many of us use virtual seminar or webinar software of one kind or sort. But we use it for events that typically require a six week lead time.
What is your education department planning to do if you have 24 hours notice? Six hours?
Think about how your organization will handle this if a major crisis occurs. Being prepared and thinking through the options now will provide you with a clear game plan going forward.