It’s no secret that we live in uncertain, and sometimes dangerous time. The headlines are filled with stories about natural disasters, disease outbreaks, workplace violence, terrorist attacks and data breaches. In addition to the myriad of other details, planners today are more focused on event security than possibly any other time since the months following the 9-11 terror attack .
The trick for event planners is to make their events as safe and secure as possible while still making them as enjoyable and effective for attendees and presenters.
Here are some tips to help you succeed at this sometimes delicate balancing act.
Cyber Security Threats
When it comes to events, security risks come in all shapes and sizes. In addition to physical threats to attendees, planners must also be concerned about their data security. Cyber hackers steal personal data from millions of people every year, and event management databases are an increasingly attractive target for identity thieves.
Eventforce Chief Technology Officer Steve Baxter recommends making security a primary consideration when selecting an event-management software company. In a recent
Meetings and Conventions article, Baxter provides a thorough checklist of questions event planners should ask providers.
The major takeaways include:
- Make sure your event management software company complies with industry-standard HTTPS and advanced encryption standards.
- Ask about the provider’s data security policies are as they pertain to data access, sharing and ownership.
- Ask how the service integrates with third-party systems.
Furthermore, if you plan to use the venue’s public WiFi service, or make it available for attendees to use, make sure it requires HTTPS for login and data transfer. Once the event is over and you have logged out of any wireless service you were using, be sure to tell your devices to “forget” the network, and urge guests to do the same.
Security experts agree that the chances of a terrorist attack or gun violence at your next offsite event are extremely remote, and in most cases the risk doesn’t justify the need for extreme precautions like metal detectors and armed security. But event planners need to have some basic plans and procedures in place in the event the unthinkable happens.
Andrews International Vice President of Consulting and Investigations, and former Director of Global Corporate Security for Mary Kay Cosmetics, William Massy says, “Offsite events aren’t a time when security needs to be dozing. They need to be on their game.”
Venue Selection Considerations
When selecting a venue for your retreat or event, be sure to ask what emergency policies and procedures they have in place in case of a bomb threat, power outage or natural disaster.
You should also familiarize yourself with local emergency law enforcement and medical facilities and their capabilities. Most retreat centers and event venues will be happy to provide you with this information. Safety and Security Roles and Expectations Be sure to familiarize your staff with all safety and security procedures, and assign specific roles and responsibilities to those within your organization well ahead of time.
Make sure that staff members are well acquainted with the venue, including the location of entrances and exits, elevators, stairways and handicap ramps and other accommodations. Staff members should also be familiar with the location, and proper use of fire extinguishers and emergency medical equipment, and be given a list of emergency contacts.
Don’t be Ruled by Fear
Finally, despite the increasing number of threats facing event planners, Event & Meeting Security Services (EMSS) President Richard Werth says, “The basic premises of assessing risk hasn’t changed.” The key is providing reasonable and appropriate safety measures for the given event, without unnecessarily alarming or inconveniencing your attendees.
Do you have additional thoughts on this topic?