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by Nicola Macdonald

Murray Ellis, MD of British Marine Boat Shows, looks back on a 554,000-gallon pool platform structural failure at the 2004 London Boat Show.

I remember the day clearly.


The British Marine Boat Shows’s ops team and I were preparing to lock down the halls for the Christmas period, when we heard a loud bang, followed by the sound of horrendous gushing water.


The supporting floor for the pool had collapsed and we were facing a major crisis. The 70m x 30m pool was to be used as the main feature to headline the 2004 London show opening days later at its new location at ExCeL London, where we were also hosting the first UK Indoor Windsurfing Championships.


The immediate reaction among us all was a very emotional one; I’m sure you can imagine the expletives escaping from the mouths of some of the crew. After a few minutes though, your professional brain kicks in and you start to rationalise the situation.


I knew I had to step up and instil confidence in those around me if we were going to rectify the problem and get the event back on track.


Our first action was to get in contact with the insurance broker, for them to send a loss adjustor to the site. This needed to happen quickly in order to assess the damage and decide whether that part of the show needed to be closed. That was a Christmas Eve that I’m unlikely to forget.


The re-build process began on Boxing Day and involved having to drain the rest of the water from the pool, take the pool liner apart and dismantle and remove the pool platform structure.


I learnt a great deal from the whole experience. It’s critical to get a solid project plan in place for any event and to know every detail prior to the start of the build. Always surround yourself with a team of like-minded people that don’t panic and have a real calm, can-do attitude.


When time is against you, you’ve got to have the ability to make quick but informed decisions. Also, try not to have a crisis over the Christmas period if you can possibly avoid it.


Do you have any examples of crisis management #eventprofs? Email nmacdonald@mashmedia.net.

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