The landscape and importance of security in the Meetings & Events industry have changed drastically in the past few years.
To be adequately prepared planners must make safety and security a core part of the planning and event management process.
It is imperative that safety and security controls are living documents contextual to the unique events they are designed to support. There is no one-size-fits-all security protocol. That noted, there are five tips that every planner can benefit from adopting:
1. Perform a risk assessment and develop an emergency action plan
Effective safety planning starts with a risk-assessment and understanding the potential risk of your event. This includes evaluating the location, the venue, their safety and security policies, the profile of the event, the number of attendees and their respective profiles.
With this information, you can begin to document your emergency action plan and collaborate with security representatives from your organization, and the venue. You should be asking for evacuation plans, document the location of emergency exits, have a Crisis Communication Plan and a Contingency Plan should power or cellular communication become disrupted. In addition, you must have a medical support plan with knowledge and proximity to hospitals, and their specific locations.
2. Build safety and security into your event budget
Dependent upon your risk assessment and the profile of your event, you may require additional security personnel onsite. Consider the quality of security personnel and their event experience when evaluating private security. The quality has a direct correlation to price. In addition, your event may require or benefit from enhanced registration technology, having satellite phones on-hand, as well as the presence of IT security, in addition to IT support.
3. IT Support does not equal IT Security
Data security and brand management is perhaps the most significant risk your event faces independent of the size or profile. Event planners often assume that having IT Support from their organization or a supporting production company has them covered. Remember that the goal of IT Support is to provide access to the network and ensure that attendees have the appropriate bandwidth. IT Security is about limiting access and putting protocols in place that mitigate risk during your event. Both have a valuable, but distinctly different role, and should be considered for all types of events.
4. Re-evaluate event credentialing
Often the most overlooked element of event security is the effective use and management of credentials. It is important to have on-site staff trained to look for credentials and to limit access to those with the appropriate badging. It is equally important for an organization to evaluate the distribution of credentials. This may be overstating the obvious, but displaying name badges on a table in an alphabetical order exposes your event to significant risk.
5. Enlist expert advice
Above all, seek expert advice. There are numerous security organizations and event management companies who specialize in security and safety. These experts understand how to evaluate your needs and limit risk. As you evaluate their references, it is also important to make sure they are properly insured.
Blog Author: Beau Ballin, Senior Director Business Development, CWT Meetings & Events