Weather Data Offers More Than A Forecast For Outdoor Event Planners

Recently, I spoke at the Event Safety Summit, an event that brought together entertainment, sports, and corporate event professionals to discuss all aspects of safety, security, and health at live events. The event is hosted by the Event Safety Alliance, which was founded in the wake of the tragic, weather-related events of the 2011 Indiana State Fair. This organization sets the standard for weather-related safety processes which have now become the foundational strategy for most event organizers. Two points I consistently heard while speaking to the attendees were that event planners are eager to learn and use more sophisticated solutions to be more weather aware. Event organizers are also seeing the potential for those insights to influence other decisions outside of safety and improve overall event operations and profits with that data.

Events are big business and millions of people participate in a variety of events every year with global event revenue reaching nearly $890 billion. In the U.S. alone, there are more than 32 million people attending one of the more than 800 outdoor music festivals held each year, and, millions more visiting the more than 2,000county and state fairs across the country.

While public safety is an important component of using weather insights, weather insights offer a lot in terms of operational benefits. As both the event industry and the extreme weather threats grow, event planners need to advance not only safety strategies, but operational strategies as well to continue to efficiently run profitable events. Attendees at the Event Safety Summit have made tremendous strides in recent years incorporating weather insights into their operational plans, but all recognized a deeper desire to improve operational outcomes in weather safety and leveraging weather insights to improve business results in additional areas.

As a risk communicator, I refer to an organization’s use of weather data as their weather maturity. That maturity level sits on a curve that starts at the bottom with the use of weather forecasts for public safety and then grows along the curve. An important part of moving up the weather maturity curve is understanding the broader implications of weather on an organization. It is no longer sufficient to just look at the weather forecast, as the science has evolved to a point that when combined with subject matter expertise, weather insights can communicate potential risks and opportunities for a business on an operational level. The weather affects consumers’ behavior in terms of what events they choose to attend, what they’ll buy there, how long they will stay and other decisions.

Even if an event organizer knows how typical weather conditions may impact attendance, concessions and other sales, unexpected extreme weather can present business challenges. To efficiently manage those risks, those potential risks must first be identified. Public safety is the foundational risk when we are talking about weather, but what else is there? Other operations at risk to weather may include ticket sales, parking costs, event staff size, concessions, energy costs, security, sports-field maintenance, stages, A/V equipment, and the list could go on and on.

Once these operational risks are identified, the related weather conditions and thresholds also need to be considered. That might include any or all the following weather events: extreme temperatures, wind speed and direction, rain, snow, lightning, flash flooding and others.

Having this information in place helps to leverage weather insights in making more and more decisions across the scope of an entire event. It is the beginning step to self-assessment and understanding where the organization is at on the weather maturity curve.

How an event organizer reacts to and manage extreme weather events impacts not only the safety of the event, but also impacts public perception and may have legal consequences. Leveraging weather data in a meaningful way and having reliable resources in place ensures a safe and successful event. Understanding where an organization sits on the weather maturity curve is a useful guide to develop a weather roadmap tailored to the organization’s needs and priorities. It also identifies the growth opportunities that may contribute to even further event success. As the propensity for more frequent and extreme weather continues, coupled with the public’s increased desire to resume social events, every event organizer across the country needs to establish a plan for managing the related risks for optimal operational efficiencies and public safety.

Reference-www.forbes.com

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