Tuesday, April 28, 2009

The Swine Flu Outbreak: How to Prepare Meeting/Event Attendees?

The recent outbreak of Swine Flu has raised some concerns and alarm regarding travel to and from affected areas and this blog is aimed at sharing some intelligence with you concerning how to respond to this situation. The WHO (World Health Organization) has currently not issued any formal travel restrictions.

The following article contains some simple information explaining the current status of this outbreak:


As Event Professionals it is incumbent upon us to provide relevant information to our customers regarding risky situations. Above all it is important to maintain a sense of calm. Here are some suggestions for you and your organization regarding a communication plan for the Swine Flu:


1. Work with your Public relations teams closely regarding all communications on this topic

2. Refer your clients to official news bulletins from government agencies

3. Keep all stakeholders informed of your actions and decisions

* Event staff

* Speakers

* Delegates

* Exhibitors, sponsors

* Supplier partners

4. Limit information to facts; do not provide opinions of status or severity

5. Update your information regularly and actively communicate the latest actions you are taking

6. Encourage attendees to take personal precautions (get from website)

* Hand Sanitizer

* Food Handling

7. Advise delegates:

* Still looking forward to seeing you

* Allow for extra time when entering into the airports

8. Talk to venues to understand the venue policies

9. Provide hand sanitizer at your events (bulk and personal)

10. Monitor public travel advisory services in your local

Don’t :

1. Panic or use any information or wording that creates alarm.

2. Make decisions without consulting with key stakeholders and PR

3. Act as the expert on this topic (limit information to official sources)

4. Provide information based on opinion

5. Pretend it doesn’t exist. (take actions to address delegate concerns immediately)

Actions are already being put in place by government and health organizations to investigate and take actions to control this outbreak of Swine influenza. The following links are sources of official information with regards to these actions and the actions that you can take.

Basic Hygiene Information to Share

Unlike the experience in Mexico, the United States is seeing less severe disease. Health officials recommend people continue to take precautions to protect themselves as they would from colds and seasonal flu:

Make good respiratory etiquette and hygiene habits a part of your daily routine especially in confined spaces like automobiles, airplane cabins, train cars and the like. Currently recommended prevention methods include the following:

* Cover your nose and mouth with a tissue when you cough or sneeze.

* Throw the tissue in the trash after you use it.

* If you have no tissue, cover your mouth and nose with the inside of your elbow.

* Avoid touching your eyes, nose or mouth. Germs spread this way.

* Wash your hands often with soap and water, especially after you cough or sneeze.

* The use of alcohol-based hand cleaners is encouraged.

* Try to avoid close contact with sick people.

* If you get sick with influenza, call your doctor; CDC recommends that you stay home from work or school and limit contact with others to keep from infecting them.

Official information

Centre for Disease Control — http://www.cdc.gov/swineflu/

CDC recommends the following actions regarding –


The World Health Organization is the primary organization for communication of issues with regards to public health. Please ensure that you use this as your primary source of information and communication of information regarding this issue:  http://www.who.int/csr/don/en/

General information regarding the phases of pandemic alert:


Swine influenza information:  http://www.who.int/csr/disease/swineflu/en/index.html

US Department of Health & Human Services:  http://www.hhs.gov/

Recent press release (April 26th):  http://www.hhs.gov/news/press/2009pres/04/20090426a.html

Airline Information

Airlines have been issuing their own travel advisory regarding ticketing rules and travel to affected areas.

US Airways:  http://www.usairways.com/awa/TravelAdvisory/TravelAdvisoryCenter.aspx

American Airlines:  https://www.aa.com/aa/listNewsAndOffers.do?locale=en_US&method=View+All+News

Travel advisories

Contact your local embassy or Public travel service.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

mind4meetings April 29, 2009 at 11:49 pm

Great info Mike. I just added it as a link to my related blog post at wwww.mind4meetings.com.


Michael M. McCurry May 1, 2009 at 11:30 am

I am glad you found this article useful and thanks for your comments!


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