Transportation is no easy business. Even with the latest and greatest technology and multiple modes of carriage at our disposal, weather, incorrect directions, basic malfunctions, or just overly optimistic travel time estimations can make people late to their target destination. As a meeting host, it’s best to understand that “anything can happen” and make a plan to handle those times when even the most experienced traveler encounters delays when journeying to an event or even an internal meeting.

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Include clear information on the invitation

Newcomers to the area will appreciate insider information such as parking suggestions or anything else that can streamline their travel. There should also be obvious contact information for both general questions and site-specific assistance. It’s always helpful to have a staff member available to receive late-comers or others that require assistance to integrate.

Make accommodations for potential late arrivals

People who are late are probably going to want to join the group as easily as possible. Have a greeter who can get them processed, provided with meeting materials, and acclimated to the event as inconspicuously as possible. You can reserve seats near the door ahead of time so it will be easy for late-comers to slip in with minimal interruption. If your attendee is late for a meal, be sure to alert the staff that a new guest has arrived.

Help your program stay on track

Set up your meeting to minimize delays in the schedule. Start by making sure that people are aware of the overall agenda and flow for the events. Before breaks, point out the restroom locations and smoking areas so that guests don’t lose valuable time searching out things that they need. Be sure to let attendees know that you will dim the lights, ring a bell, or otherwise signal them when it is time to return.

A successful event fosters active involvement for those that are invited. With a little planning, you can minimize any penalties from a lack of punctuality and all of your attendees can make the most of your meeting experience, whether or not they make it there on time.