Event security is priority #1 these days. It’s a combination of integrity, honesty, responsibility and risk management in one hyper-important package. Let’s say you have developed a solid practical, doable Emergency Action Plan, but you have a nagging feeling that you could do more. Here’s how to enhance your event security in one step – within your budget.
FACT: More than 50% of event planners have had to deal with an emergency during a meeting or trade show.
Research shows that the most common emergencies for events, meetings and trade shows are:
- Death of an attendee or participant
Now add to the list the growing concerns over weapons and active shooters. Attendees are more apprehensive about travel and larger gatherings than ever before. This puts extra scrutiny on organizers, producers and sponsors. The traditional practices and planning you’ve used in the past are most likely out of date. The new rules begin with: Never Assume You Are Covered.
The Most Important Reality
You cannot expect or rely on the venue to handle an emergency at your event.
You should always work with the venue to develop your response plan, but don’t assume their personnel will just automatically take over if an emergency occurs. It is your responsibility to protect your attendees. The priority of the venue or facility is to protect their own property and risk.
Security vs. Feeling Secure
Let’s assume that you have that solid, practical, do-able Emergency Action Plan I mentioned earlier. How can you add an additional degree of security within your budget? The key is that there is a difference between providing security and having your attendees feel secure. Much of that sense of protection comes from seeing your security measures and how you have planned for contingencies. The rest comes from visibility and communications.
Make Your Security Visible
The former logic was that seeing security made attendees nervous. They thought you were worried about a threat. Today, people want to be reassured that there are competent, professional security measures in place. They want to see that you have anticipated and prepared so they feel protected and can relax. I don’t mean you need armed guards patrolling the halls, but it’s vital to let participants know that plans exist.
The easiest way to make attendees feel more secure is to let them know where to go and what to do if an emergency happens.
Display Plenty of Security Signage
Show and tell people about the event security and where they can go for help and assistance. Identify the areas where most attendees gather during the event, and add additional signage near registration, ballrooms, breakout rooms and trade show halls that show:
- Key medical and emergency areas on the event map
- Security & EMT stations
- Emergency numbers
- Evacuation diagrams
Your goal is to reassure attendees that security is planned and in place … and to clearly show them where to go in case of an emergency.
Communicate Early & Often
Include security information on the registration site and in the event literature. Include key medical and emergency information on the event app and have the event security phone number on attendee badges. Anticipate the big questions and concerns and answer them in advance.
Determine your policy on:
Communicate the information early and often. The more your attendees know and understand your security plan, the more secure they will feel.
The Step Most Events Forget
You can have the best Emergency Action Plan in the world, but it’s pretty useless if only a few of the organizers, producers and sponsors know about it. If it only lives on your laptop or in a giant binder, it isn’t doing its job. Your success strategy? Develop a series of EAP sheets that are customized for specific areas.
Then, don’t just brief the event team – tell everyone. Get the venue and any relevant local authorities involved early, especially if it’s a very large event. Provide the specifics as to whom to contact, what to do, and how to manage the guests or attendees. Be very clear on the top security issues, who should act and when, how to handle unacceptable behavior, weather issues, and details on medical emergencies.
Be Sure Everyone Knows What to Do
Aquarian suggests giving every sponsor and exhibitor in the trade show area a map that shows the location of the security stations, EMT and fire extinguishers – and include critical telephone numbers. Spell out clear instructions on what to do and where to go for each of the major emergencies.
You should have similar maps for every breakout or workshop leader, meal planner and party planner. These sheets aren’t “one size fits all.” When an event emergency happens, there is no time for indecision and confusion. You will save valuable time if each map is specific to a location and area in the facility. If there is a medical emergency in a breakout room, you don’t want anyone to have to run to the trade show hall for help!
The payoff is simple: The more people who have an emergency plan for their locations and parts of the event, the more effective your security becomes.
Up Your Event Security in One Step
These suggestions aren’t budget-busters. The cost is minimal to create additional signage and information sheets. What they do is enhance your existing security planning and dramatically improve your risk management. What we are suggesting manages risk for you – and it manages risk for all those people who attend your conference, event or trade show.
- Successful security planning is a group effort that requires communication, coordination and visibility.
- Reducing risk is for the benefit of your attendees and not just to protect the company or sponsors. It’s actually a benefit you offer.
- These suggestions aren’t traditional risk management, focused on only managing liability. They are about people, their safety, comfort and well-being.
Aquarian has years of experience working with associations, organizers and sponsors. We know how to help you coordinate with the venues and facilities to anticipate the most likely situations, identify the professionals and resources needed to handle the situations, and then make sure they are informed and prepared to act.
Let us help you reassure your attendees that they are safe and feel secure.