Weathering the Storm of a Lifetime

Terry Charles

terry charles | behind the stage | may 2018

Weather records are set all the time. Record highs, record lows, record rainfall. No one could have imagined we would get hit with the biggest snowstorm of the century. Not the biggest ever in Green Bay, but the second biggest. What does it mean for the event business? A pretty big headache when you have two events already moved into your buildings and one of the event days already in the books.

Even though the Resch Center is only 15 years old, it's the first time in its history that an event was canceled because of the weather. We had the “Living Proof with Beth Moore" event at the Resch Center. It was here for two days and expecting several thousand people, with some traveling a great distance. The event started on Friday evening, April 13 and was to continue all day Saturday. Or not. We also had the WBAY Pet Expo in the Brown County Arena and Shopko Hall. It too started Friday and was to continue Saturday and Sunday. Or not.

One of our company executives was able to make it in early Saturday morning only to find a five-foot drift in front of the door he usually enters. At that point it entered his mind the show might not go on. Then the calls came pouring in from food and beverage staff and guest services staff. They couldn't get here. The question quickly becomes if employees can't get here, can the attendees safely get here? For both the Pet Expo and the Beth Moore event the answer was no.

We produce the Pet Expo so we could make that call easily. But the Beth Moore event was run by a national organization and they needed to have a say in the decision because with event cancellation comes ticket refunds or loss of ticket purchases. It is indeed a budget-affecting decision. Some large events likely have insurance to cover the weather losses while smaller events don't bother with the insurance cost because of the rare occurrence of weather-canceling events in indoor venues. We've had many concerts already here and in place during a snowstorm, but the show always went on.

For the Pet Expo, our company will lose money. We budget a year in advance for the events we “know" will happen. The Pet Expo is one of those. We lost attendance for two days and had to offer partial refunds to vendors or offer them a credit to next year's event.

A lot of time goes into the planning of an event when you either produce it yourself like the Pet Expo or for booking an event like the Beth Moore conference. So it's a bit disheartening not to see it to fruition and have to shut it down after only one day of three.

For me, I was on a short, warm vacation but still got calls and texts because a PR/communications guy is never really off duty. The staff back in Green Bay did a great job handling customer service inquiries on Facebook and in emails. Let me repeat: We've never canceled an indoor event because of weather. It's something hard to plan for because of all of the moving parts. It was the storm of our lifetime. I missed it. Best timing ever.

Terry Charles is public relations manager for Green Bay-based PMI Entertainment Group. He's all about media relations, publicity and social media for the Resch Center Complex, Meyer Theatre, Green Bay Gamblers Hockey and other events produced by PMI. When not at work, please don't hit him with your car as he runs and bikes around the Green Bay area. You can follow him on Twitter at @TCCharles.

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