by Matt Alderton | July 24, 2017
Meetings and incentives are risky business. And they're only getting riskier, according to the Incentive Research Foundation (IRF), which published a new white paper on July 21 on the topic of risk management.

Based on personal interviews and an electronic survey, the white paper -- titled "Mitigating Risk in Modern Meetings and Incentives" -- found that meeting and incentive planners currently spend up to 25 percent of their time planning for potential disruptions such as weather, war, terrorism, business partners' mistakes, and uncooperative clients. Furthermore, nearly 40 percent of planners expect that the time and effort they invest in planning for potential disruptions will increase in the next two years.

"Disruptions are a very real part of doing business in the meeting and incentives industry," said the IRF President Melissa Van Dyke. "We've highlighted the research and actionable insights that meeting planners and their partners can use to plan for and respond to disruptions."

Contingency planning is so important, the IRF found, that over 90 percent of planners said their companies require it; over half (54 percent) said their company requires contingency plans for all events, and over a third (37 percent) that their company requires them for some events.

Planners -- whose confidence level about planning for disruptions is 79 percent, according to the IRF -- said they have plenty of support, with nearly 70 percent indicating that their companies provide guidelines or assistance for planning for disruptions. Furthermore, 57 percent of planners said their partners have demonstrated the readiness or capacity to handle disruptions when they occur.

And to be sure: They do occur, according to planners, 49 percent of who said they have switched at least one business partner due to the partner's poor handling of disruptions, and 68 percent of who said they have changed a destination at least once because of perceived risks or disruptions. In the face of such changes, communication is critical; yet, only half (49 percent) of planning companies or planners actively communicate to attendees about potential disruptions and suggested action.

Clearly, the act of managing risks can cause just as much stress as the risks themselves. It's worth the trouble, however: Another study from the IRF -- which it will publish in August, Incentive reported last week -- discovered a connection between incentives and success; top-performing companies, it found, leverage rewards and recognition more often than other companies and are more likely to view them as a strategic advantage.

"No one wants to be average," Van Dyke told Incentive. "That's not a goal. Everyone wants their company to be a top performer."