The following is a formatted version of a note written by Abby Covert in February 2016. As the IA Institute President that year, she addresses the concerns of organizers whose celebration may be impacted by inclement weather.
I was the organizer for WIAD NYC the year we had a record blizzard the evening before. It was harrowing to have spent that much time planning something only to have it threatened on the night before.
Here is what happened:
I didn’t sleep very well, and woke up to look out the window every hour or so between 2 and 5 AM.
At 5 AM I realized that the snow was likely impactful to our speakers and attendees so I sent a note to them asking for a status. Many attendees told me that they wouldn’t make it and luckily only one panel speaker bowed out.
I then sent a note to the wait list letting them know that there might be open seats if our venue stayed open and to stay tuned.
By 7:00 AM I had confirmation from the venue that they would be able to support us.
I sent a note to everyone to confirm. I used some cute verbiage about being perfect weather for polar bears.
At 9:30 AM when we started, there was 50% or less capacity but the people that were there were psyched to be there and we did the show with half an empty room.
I interviewed Lou Rosenfeld on stage about the birth of IA as a field and consider that conversation to be a highlight of my life.
By Noon the place was full and the waiting list folks had showed up.
People had a great time.
If I learned anything from this experience it was that we can’t control the weather and things may not go as expected.
This post doesn’t have a “checklist” of to-dos attached but I hope you are taking away from this the following:
‘There are many things you can control about your celebration and plan for… but weather is not one of them.’
Our WIAD Tokyo team can tell you how heartbreaking it was to cancel their celebration a few years back because of snow (our only weather cancellation in five years to my knowledge)—but they could also tell you how fun their remote celebration was as a result.
I will be sending all my warmest vibes to all the snow-potential cities in the week leading up to WIAD. That’s all I can (or anyone) can do.’