You spend many months and thousands of dollars planning for your air show to be the best that it can be. What happens if you succeed beyond your own expectations? What happens if the new marketing strategy increases attendance by 30 percent or more? What will you do if your designated parking areas are all full by 1:30 p.m.? What will you do if you expected 6,000 to your new night show and you actually get 9,000? What will you do when you start receiving reports at noon that the freeway is already backed up 18 miles? Can your team adjust? Can your plan flex?
At several shows in the United States and Canada this year, event organizers have been faced with this kind of challenge. When posed with the hypothetical, many event organizers will reply, “I’d love to have that kind of problem,” and then do very little to prepare for it. But unanticipated success can be nearly as disastrous as unanticipated failure. The most common example is much-larger-than-anticipated attendance that chokes the local access roads, creating huge traffic jams and thousands of frustrated, would-be spectators who will swear off air shows forever. But there are other examples: too little food and water, sold-out seating at your night show with no alternatives, advertising or promotional campaigns that succeed way beyond expectations, creating unanticipated problems.
Develop a Plan B and perhaps even a Plan O (for optimistic or outstanding) that assumes success beyond even what you can easily imagine Make sure that the key people impacted by this alternative plan understand under what circumstances it would be implemented and how it will impact normal operations and/or vary from the original plan. In all likelihood, you won’t need this Plan O, but – if you do – you’ll be very glad that you spent some time planning for best case scenarios.