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Managing Dynamic Risk: The New Normal in Event Security Planning


Kimberley Gishler

President and CEO, Corporate Event Marketing Association

Event managers can maximize attendee safety and still deliver an optimal experience by embracing these three event security strategies:  

1. Use a macro-level risk assessment model: risk equals likelihood times consequence

Your risk assessment should consider risk probability, based on location, political stability, climate volatility, societal tension, and crime profile, along with risk impactthe potential harm to people, property, and the brand.

2. Create a standardized, repeatable event response plan

Your incident preparedness and response framework should be integrated into the overall event planning and execution.  Pre-event planning should include:

  • Mapping the venue’s physical layout: access, fire detection, surveillance, and communications systems
  • Identifying available law enforcement, fire and rescue, and medical/EMS support, and establishing clear processes for communicating with each
  • Establishing a dedicated response team which has studied and practiced response procedures and escalation protocols
  • Defining channels, protocols, and roles for both internal and public communications, including spokesperson training and execution processes for web, social, mobile, and media channels
  • Conducting a mock incident response drill

At the event, the response team should establish an incident response command center. Post-event, the team should conduct a thorough evaluation and recommend plan improvements.

3. Collaborate to determine the right security layers

Based on the risk assessment, event planners, incident response leads, hotel event managers, and security leads should work together to determine the appropriate mix and level of security measures to ensure strong security with minimal attendee disruption. Emphasis should be on the areas of highest attendee presence and interaction. For example: if a security check at the event entry is necessary, will a simple bag check suffice, or do you need metal detectors? 

Event managers can navigate the dynamic threat landscape and deliver a superb attendee experience with a thorough risk assessment, comprehensive response planning, and venue-appropriate execution.

Kimberley Gishler, President and CEO, Corporate Event Marketing Association, [email protected]

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