Event managers ignore event safety, security at their peril.
With the ongoing threat of terror attacks and political instability, safety and security are two areas regularly topping event managers’ agendas. In today’s climate, experts say, it is more important than ever to write a risk assessment for each event, considering every possible threat or problem that could arise during an event.
“This gives you the opportunity to find solutions or even discuss critical points with your client prior to an event and before bad things can happen,” Volker Capito, director of C2C Asian Network, said. “We also ask all our partners to send us their risk assessments or to start working on them, and we also look very closely at the safety of destinations.”
Carrying out a risk assessment at hotels via pre-event inspection trips cannot be taken lightly. Besides inspecting the quality of hotel rooms, food, and service, knowing and testing the hotel’s capability in handling possible emergency situations is essential.
“Don’t take things for granted — you’d be surprised to know that even an international five-star hotel in Bali could have expired fire extinguishers,” said Anna Lim, senior events project manager Asia Pacific & Japan, at BI Worldwide. “It is also important to know the venues’ capacity to accommodate groups — it becomes extremely dangerous when a venue exceeds its capacity/weight limit.”
Capito added that it is also vital to install private security and access control for larger, private events, while Lim advised having attentive staff/ team members who are aware of emergency escape routes and exits. They are ultimately the team who will help to guide the crowd out of the venue in a calm manner.
There can be a tendency for some third-party suppliers and delegates/clients to take security and safety for granted. Lim noted that third-party suppliers tend to focus only on operations and getting the work done while some delegates/clients assume everything “is being taken care of.”
“Event planners must take the initiative in conducting pre-event security and safety briefings before the whole action begins,” she said. “Third-party suppliers must be able to identify the fire command centre of the venues and know the contact number of the hotel’s head of security for example — so they would know who to contact in the case of possible emergencies.”
Delegates must be able to access information about the overall floor plan with exit points, emergency routes, and emergency contact numbers at any time. This should always be highlighted before the start of any conference or meeting, or provided via printouts or an event app.
Depending on the destination, Capito said event planners could also use specialised consultants alongside third-party suppliers, to work out detailed proposals for locations and venues. And it’s vital to check that every third party involved has an adequate insurance policy in place.
In terms of personal safety, Lim advised that delegates should be responsible and understand their limit when it comes to alcoholic beverages, and should never drink and drive. They should also pay attention to their surroundings at all times.
“If delegates identify any suspicious items or bags within the venue, or if they witness anyone engaged in a brawl or fight which will endanger the overall crowd or public, they should notify the organiser or security personnel as soon as possible,” Lim said.