Swine flu. The H1N1 virus. Whatever you call it, it’s a real thing. Honest. It’s not some government conspiracy created to ruin the meetings industry. Darn. I was kinda hoping it was a conspiracy. Since it’s not, I need to create a plan to deal with it at our annual meeting in October.
What am I going to do? Good question. I’m not sure. I’ll let you know what we end up doing. In the meantime, I’ve done a bunch of research, and have found a ton of suggestions.
Here are several suggestions for what YOU can do at your meetings!
- Provide hand sanitizer at key points throughout the meeting (each registration desk, exhibitor booths, offices, information counters, and lecterns)
- Include a handful of sanitizing wipes in each registration bag (at least one per day of the meeting).
- Prepare information on the symptoms of H1N1, and what attendees should do if they believe they’ve contracted it (i.e. DO NOT go to the meeting!). Distribute the info via email, web, reg bags, and onsite program guides.
- Develop a policy that allows attendees to cancel their registration and receive at least a partial refund if they do contract the virus.
- Develop a plan to handle a widespread outbreak at your meeting. It could happen.
- Offer one-time-use serving pieces (cups, plates, forks, knives) to avoid the spread of germs on possibly-not-well-cleaned glasses, etc.
Here are links to some great information sources.
- The CDC has a lengthy and detailed H1N1 Guide for Businesses (they also offer a shorter version)
- Mitchell Beer wrote a great article about this topic for MeetingsNet just this week (and here’s the second part of the article).
- The blog, Meet Prepared, has some good advice, too.
- Meetings Collaborative has a few good tips (like bringing disinfectants on the plane with you to wipe down handrests).
- Plan Your Meetings talks specifically about crafting a crisis management plan.
- The TIA has a great set of talking points regarding the flu.
- MPI published this press release from the U.S. Travel Association dated June 11, 2009.
- And, finally, the World Health Organization (WHO) has published this update on the second wave of the H1N1 pandemic.
What suggestions do you have? Have you had to deal with this at your meeting? What did you do?