After two prep days (and two nights of disjointed sleep due to jet lag) arrival day is finally here. Welcome packets are stuffed, room gifts wrapped and we are ready to rock and roll! As a meeting planner we spend months meticulously planning every last detail down to the pattern of china for the gala event or how to word an amenity card. On a larger scale, we have to painstakingly plan how to move 90 people (and their luggage!) from three nights in Prague to two nights in Vienna, which is not an easy feat. But with the right partnership of hotels and suppliers it can go off without a hitch and be a huge success.
Yet there are always elements out of our control such as weather or a migration of refugees through Europe. Currently I am dealing with the latter. While my heart goes out to the refugees, my ultimate concern at the moment has to be for the care and safety of my attendees. Fortunately our program moves south from Prague to Vienna, against the flow of the migration. We are on a privately chartered train that ends at a local train station just outside Vienna and will not be arriving in a large international station flooded with refugees and heightened emotions.
My local partners have assured me that all is calm in the Vienna city center and from what I see on the news; there is nothing to contradict those statements. But I have to be proactive and plan for contingencies, first of which is concerning myself with attendees post-extending in Germany. At this moment the German borders are closed preventing train travel between Austria and Germany. Therefore we have had to assist a few attendees in booking flights to their next destination. I am also prepared to add security in Vienna should the situation change for the worse.
While many of you only see the glamorous side of this business, there are very real realities we have to deal with that we could have never anticipated months ago. Instead, we have to be a buttoned up with the details we can control so if a situation does arise, we are ready to jump into action.
We have three more days until we travel to Vienna and are moving forward as planned. But as I sit here at 1:45 AM (thank you jet lag) watching the BBC World News, I am monitoring and planning for the unexpected.
Written by Laurel Axelrod