Security consultant Richard P. Werth, who specializes in security of events and meetings, compiled the following tips for planners. Security should always be a top priority for meeting planners, Werth contends, but in light of the September terrorist attacks, planners must take a proactive role in ensuring the safety of delegates.
1. STAY ALERT to local and international news/issues, which can change VERY quickly and may affect your event, meeting or travel.
2. Assess all of your events/meetings, destinations and facilities to determine potential risks and concerns. Be sensitive to your attendees’ concerns for their safety and being away from their loved ones. Make changes as appropriate. If there is a good business reason for events, meetings and travel to continue, move forward cautiously and alertly.
3. Make security an integral part of the EARLY event management planning process and actual event for the welfare of the attendees and success of the event.
4. Consider lower profile destinations, venues and/or alternative meeting solutions.
5. Examine your existing eventfor cancellations, changes, etc., to determine any impact. Review your insurance policies to determine specific coverages.
6. Review your event and travel policies and procedures to ensure that they are relative to this new environment in which we now must operate.
7. Ensure that emergency plans are integrated into every event. Develop contingency destinations and facilities in case venues must be changed.
8. To reduce your organization’s name exposure, use only low profile signage and badges, non-company name merchandise items, etc.
9. Establish a good working relationship with hotel/facility security management and know how they will support you and your event.
10. Demand thatand/or facility security personnel and companies are competent to protect your attendees and property.
11. Develop an emergency plan that includes critical local resources. Maintain accurate lists of all attendees, their hotel(s) and hotel room numbers, and their emergency contact information.
12. Provide attendees with useful security, health and cultural guidelines customized to the destination, venues and activities.
13. Brief the event staff on the security and contingency procedures.
14. Establish effective access control policies and procedures for exclusive access by authorized personnel.
15. Consider professionally licensed and operated charter aircraft companies as an alternative to commercial air travel.
16. If a crisis or emergency occurs, leadership and communication are key. Establish a single point of contact to avoid confusing or contradictory communications.
17. Use only professional event security resources that have an established track record and understand your event objectives.
Attendee Sensitivities For those concerned about long distance travel, consider closer or regional destinations or other modes of transportation. If you must use a high-rise hotel, consider lower guestroom floors above 2 and up to the 8th floor, which are considered safer from an evacuation perspective.
Richard P. Werth, CPP is the president of Event & Meeting Security Services an international security firm that specializes in event, meeting, and travel security, staff communications, and contingency planning. He is a member of the American Society for Industrial Security, is certified by them as a Certified Protection Professional (CPP), and a member of Meeting Professional International.