Winter Storm in San Francisco leaves Lean Startup Conference without power

Residents of the San Francisco Bay Area are a little spoiled with our nearly 300 days of sunshine and 65 degree winters, so when the weather forecasts a severe storm with heavy rains and high winds, the city starts planning for the worst. As an event planner, contingency planning is essential to the event planning process to limit the risk of disaster and while we hope nothing major goes wrong we must prepare for it just in case.

The Lean Startup Conference experience a small set back when the venue, The Fairmont Hotel San Francisco, lost power due to “Stormageddon” on December 11, 2014. Fortunately, do due the contingency plans and fast acting event management team, the conference only lost about 45 minutes of the program. The event planning team along with the hotel managers gathered early that morning to implement the plan, which included smaller breakout rooms in exterior meeting rooms with lots of windows and natural light, flipcharts and non-perishable foods for breakfast.

Lean Startup Conference

Once the power came back on, the program pick up right on schedule. The event team received kudos throughout the remainder of the conference for their quick thinking and awesome planning.

Here is a list of 5 common problems in events and the contingency plans to manage them. This is a partial list taken from Leoissac.

1. Failure of sound systems

May be caused by people tripping over wires, faulty equipment, faulty electrical connections, missing components.

Contingency plans:

  • Have a back up sound system
  • Include people with skills to fix such equipment in event management team

2. Failure of VIP’s to arrive on time 

Visiting dignitaries often have multiple responsibilities most of which are far more important than their appearance at an event to make a speech or presentation. They may cancel at the last moment.

Contingency plans:

  • Make plans and instruct staff to continue the event program rather than delay it
  • Identify and use other people in the event management team or other guests who can step into to make a presentation if necessary

3. Inclement weather
Particularly affects outdoor events.

Contingency plans:

  • In the event of a sudden downpour ensure there is adequate shelter for all otherwise people will start going home and won’t come back even if the skies clear
  • Make plans to relocate activities to sheltered areas or to alter the event programme to salvage the day if possible
  • Have contingency insurance for your event if there is much at stake financially


4.Breakages and other losses

Breakages and losses could include competition equipment, electrical equipment and lighting, trophies, event paperwork, canteen equipment and supplies, keys, money and many other items.

Contingency plans:

  • Keep spares and back-up systems
  • Roster on a “troubleshooter” who detect these problems as early as possible
  • Roster on other surplus staff whose job it is to contact supplies, run out to stores and/or move about the venue to find items

5. Injuries and accidents
Injuries may occur to participants, spectators and/or event staff. It is a legal duty for the event organizers to plan for such eventualities.

Contingency plans:

  • Organize first aid and/or other qualified medical personnel to be in attendance throughout the event
  • Roster on more staff than the minimum required so that if one person requires treatment it will not impact on the running of the event
  • Ensure driveways and entrances are not blocked to emergency personnel
  • Train all event staff what to do in an emergency and when unexpected events occur


To ensure your event runs smoothly, hire an event planner that is skilled in solving problems before they occur. Contact Aurice Guyton Events