Tuesday, December 31, 2019

Safety and security now are top priorities for meeting planners

David Trumble

Of all the issues that meeting planners consider when selecting an event venue, safety and security now are top priorities, according to a 2019 Destination Meeting Assessment Program survey conducted by Smith Travel Research.

Ensuring a safe environment takes precedence over a dozen other metrics that go into meeting planners’ decision-making process, such as ease of arrival by delegates, value, convention space near the meeting, number of hotel rooms and other comparatively routine considerations.

Given the number of mass shootings and other violent acts that have beleaguered the United States, professional planners have begun demanding assurances from venues that their delegates will be safe from harm at all times.

Cvent, a leading meetings, events and hospitality management technology provider, reported that “90% of event professionals believe more safety and security at events should be a priority.”

The report goes on to identify 20 steps and critical factors that all meeting planners should review with event venues.  Many of the factors fall into the category of standard operating procedures, such as staffing an event with a properly trained security team, limiting points of entry and establishing checklists to address the myriad of details that go into ensuring a successful event.  

Other considerations, however, may be less obvious, such as agreeing to an evacuation plan in advance and anticipating possible disrupters, such guest speakers with a controversial history or guests and groups that could attract protesters.

The 2020 election year will spawn thousands of campaign-related events that will take place at hundreds of hotels, convention centers and other venues across the country  Now is the time for all event planners and the venues they work with to make sure they have robust crisis management plans in place.

A successful event begins with meeting planners working closely with hotels, convention centers and other meetings venues to ensure that safety and security are proactively addressed.

Their crisis management plan should include the following:

  1. A clearly defined agreement between the meeting planner and the event management team that outlines security protocols
  2. Checklists that address emergencies procedures
  3. An established and up-to-date chain of command and communications tree
  4. A master evacuation plan
  5. Provision for professionally trained security personnel
  6. Thorough background security checks of event participants and employees
  7. Empowerment of key functional areas to make swift decisions to mitigate potential disruption
  8. Recovery steps as needed

These precautionary measures are a small price to pay to ensure the safety and security of valued clients and to prevent disruptions, injuries, deaths, negative publicity and lawsuits.

David Trumble is principal of Integrated Crisis Management Solutions, an organization composed of security operatives and communications professionals offering risk assessments, streamlined emergency protocols, management training, customer/media relations and recovery programs.

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