A lot of work goes on behind the scenes when planning events, and that can include corporate event security. Shannon Gehringer, Freelance Event Planner, Digital Strategist and host of the MICE Advice podcast, sat down to discuss the importance of pre-planning for events. She offers some valuable tips to help businesses and event planners navigate complex issues that include travel emergencies along with hotel and event security.
OK, first…”MICE Advice?”
“MICE” stands for Meetings, Incentives, Conventions & Exhibitions, so there’s no need to keep looking around the room for rodents.
Now that we got that out of the way…can you share some safety and security tips for companies and their event planners should think through?
As someone whose work involves extensive travel, I have been all over the world in various operational roles. In fact, my very first job was setting up booths for international tradeshows in Barcelona, Frankfurt and Chicago. It sounds glamorous, but there is a lot of work that goes into a flawlessly executed event. From a safety perspective, it’s critical to know your groups; consider who is attending the event, then think about what will make them feel comfortable and safe. The best event planners are the ones who truly partner with their clients to understand and address any risks in advance. With those risks in mind, we create emergency action plans specific to their hotels and meeting spaces, in which we identify the nearest hospitals, the locations of any AEDs on site and local phone numbers for emergency services, as examples. When a location is selected, we also engage with the heads of security to do a walk-through of the space and discuss logistics before the event. When planning cruises, we want our clients to know whether a doctor or nurse is on board the ship and provide information to help streamline communication in the event of any kind of emergency. The comfort and safety of event attendees is as important as the quality of food and beverage, so pre-planning in this area is huge.
Aside from planning, what else can help keep business travelers safe during corporate events?
Pre-trip communications before group travel and incentive trips offer a great opportunity for travelers to pre-plan. We include the safety information I mentioned in pre-trip communications as well as information about the destination and scheduled activities, and we ask clients to send that out a week or so before a tour. That timeframe allows travelers time to think about and ask questions before they go. It also reassures them that we are their go-to resource before and during the trip. The role of event planner often includes acting as a liaison for travelers. We ensure they get answers to any questions… everything from amenities and activities to health and safety.
We don’t want to scare people away before they come, so these communications need to be balanced. If we want to remind them to secure valuables like iPads and laptops, for example, we might want to let them know if there are in-room safes.
You mentioned knowing your group is important…anything special we should know about corporate events that involve VIP attendees?
Whoever your group, security should always be appropriate. Corporate event security is no different than other types of events…it should be decided based on the level of risk. Is it a higher-risk destination, or are there VIPs who will be needing executive protection? This is where communications and coordination with corporate staff are key, to help us really understand and anticipate needs. We choose locations and even food and beverage vendors carefully based on the nature and size of each event. It’s pretty much industry standard to use preferred vendors who have an already-established business relationship. There’s so much behind-the-scenes work going on in event planning that we want to make sure things are done right. Getting on an event planner’s preferred list can be tough for service providers… but for any event, small, large or exclusively VIP, the quality of the entire experience matters. Most event planners want the highest standards for their travelers – not just VIPs, and their comfort level and safety definitely matter. It should be appropriately planned and tailored for every event.
Any event horror stories you care to share?
Once, on an incentive cruise I organized, a number of attendees became seasick…at the same time that other attendees were quite busy getting intoxicated. My team was responsible for coordinating care, including communicating between the ship infirmary and the executives…while helping ensure all the intoxicated attendees were staying safe. The most important takeaway from that incident was the importance of partnering and communicating with the executives…even when it means interrupting their dinner to keep them informed. That was also important in another situation where expensive watches were being given away as rewards – one was stolen at a restaurant which caused drama. It shows the importance of communicating in advance with company executives about how we could ensure that expensive merchandise was protected during those types of events. My team and I didn’t want to be accountable for carrying thousands of dollars of merchandise while flying…so that’s another area where assessing the right kind of security measures can really make a difference.
IMG Corporate Event Security
The Incident Management Group has decades of experience in the security industry. Our team of safety experts stands ready to help you alleviate employee fears with our corporate event security assistance, workplace violence consulting services, corporate cybersecurity consulting advice and more. Contact us today!