Ralf HallerRalf Haller May 17, 2010

What to do when having an event and the airport closes due to ash clouds?

This week a client of us attends the LTE World Summit event in Amsterdam. It is the major LTE conference and also has a vendor exhibition attached to it. The volcano ashes from Iceland came back though and the Schiphol airport in Amsterdam is closed. I just exchanged an e-mail with one of the speakers who can not come anymore and I suppose many others will also not make it.

What a mess for the exhibition organizers, the companies who brought their booths and also the speakers who prepared themselves and all booked flights and hotels and set up business meetings.

I think there is one clear solution now that also will not cost too much:

1. Provide a web presentation event

2. Offer a virtual exhibition event using a social community platform, where the vendors can showcase their products still

This would be totally independent of any airport and flight closures and also would be relatively inexpensive still. The other alternatives would be to cancel the event entirely and reimburse the people. Or reschedule with the risk that it will again not happen and of course I assume that the costs would be way too high as well to make this a viable option.

Update: the event could – fortunately – happen afterall when Schiphol airport reopened on Monday afternoon. Still, virtual events are an alternative, a backup and most importantly extend an event to an all year around meeting place increasing the number of people attending. Real example: VMWorld Virtual Pavilion