There is no more important job for a planner than ensuring a hotel, conference room or convention center is a safe zone for attendees. A few veteran event professionals share their helpful ideas:
- Hire private security. A hotel or convention center can provide security staff, but they can get pulled off an event if there’s another emergency elsewhere. Hiring a team dedicated solely to a meeting ensures someone is watching over valuable equipment at all times.
- Build security into your budget. Allocating roughly 10 percent of an event’s cost should be enough, just in case you need to dip into the fund to deal with an unforeseen circumstance.
- Negotiate. If a hotel doesn’t normally man a security booth at a parking lot or other critical site, make that part of your negotiations. If the venue refuses, it may be your cue to look elsewhere.
- Know your attendees. Consider requiring attendees to show ID when registering to ensure they belong at the event and are who they say they are. While not a perfect system, it decreases opportunities for a protester to disrupt the meeting.
- Know the venue. The site visit should be an educational tool. Look for all ways in and out of the building and ask for a floor plan.
- Donít get too comfortable. Attendees should feel safe at an event, but not to the point of irresponsibility. Remind guests throughout the meeting to keep personal belongings on them at all times.
- Have a plan. Coordinating with the hotel, local government and law enforcement officials beforehand is essential in planning
- Educate your staff. Before the conference, relay information about emergency routes and exits to the staff that will be directing traffic in case of an evacuation.
- Have a bug-out bag handy. Items worth including are batteries, a bullhorn, a power source to charge phones, an emergency handbook, a phone tree and an asset management checklist to make sure cash, electronics and documents aren’t lifted during any chaos.
- Watch for out-of-place bags. Seeing a bag sitting by itself or an attendee with a backpack could raise eyebrows. Investigate anything unusual.