Safety must be at the forefront of every event your business holds. It doesn't matter how impressive the speaker list is, nor how impressive your event's aesthetics are if you fail in your basic duty to do everything in your power to plan for attendee safety. If safety is priority one, how can you place emphasis on it in the planning stage of your event programs?
This article suggests six precautions you can take to bolster safety at your events, making them less stressful to plan and less stressful to run. The first three points are practical, administrative steps to improve safety during the planning stages; The latter steps look at ways to use technology effectively throughout the event itself.
1. Prioritize Safety when Selecting a Venue
Event safety plans can take shape long before an event takes place, and before you've even selected a venue. The right venue and the right venue personnel can make a world of difference.
It's crucial to start thinking about safety at the venue selection stage. When you visit potential sites, meet with their security personnel and quiz them on their experience of past events. Ask them for examples of specific safety challenges they've faced in the past and discuss how they've dealt with them. Query their procedures for dealing with VIPs and delegates with specific requirements.
You'll likely find that some venue's staff will give you a sense of confidence while others will leave you with nagging doubts. Working with people in the first category will definitely prove more reassuring!
2. Make Detailed Plans for VIPs
If you have one or more VIPs appearing at your event, it's crucial to ensure that they are kept happy and feel well looked after, but also that their safety is considered.
To ensure everything runs smoothly for these guests, prepare a detailed timetable that covers the moment of their arrival to the moment they leave. Build in contingencies for unforeseen complications such as a late arrival. Then, to ensure you're truly prepared, conduct a physical walkthrough "rehearsal" of the VIP's schedule.
3. Prepare a Risk Register
Even if preparing a risk register may feel like a rather "old hat" management technique, there are many good reasons for doing it. Having a plan in place for every possible eventuality will boost your confidence and ensure you have a plan in place for anything that could happen.
Your risk register should include everything you can imagine happening - from big safety issues such as a fire or an outbreak of illness, to smaller problems such as dealing with hecklers or protesters. You can build a strategy for every possible situation and be ready for anything. It's well worthwhile, once again, to involve the venue staff in this process - they'll have seen and dealt with all manners of unexpected situations and be able to provide unique insight.
4. Use Technology: Event Apps
Technology can help you manage an event in many different ways. For example, conference apps can all help keep track of attendees, as most event-goers have a phone in hand at any given moment.
A conference app can help you ensure that you only allow authorized individuals to check into certain sessions or areas, providing registered individuals with the assurance that outside guests aren't making their way into the venue. Apps can also enable organizers to notify attendees (via push notifications) of potential emergencies, changes of plans, or building issues.
5. Use a Multi-Channel Communication System
It's always best to have multiple means of communication in place in case of unexpected outages and capacity issues. For example, old-fashioned walkie-talkies can prove a great backup to cell phones. You can also never have enough chargers and (where possible) spare batteries.
There are now so many ways to communicate that it's well worth thinking through all the options - both for event staff and for delegates. Push notifications, for example, can take the place of multiple phone calls or text messages.
Sometimes, people may need to leave the event site, so you should put a procedure in place where all key personnel have a "nominated deputy" to take over a walkie-talkie or phone. This will save others wasting time trying to track down people who are temporarily absent.
6. Use Drones for Outdoor Events
Drones for are invaluable for outdoor events, to help you get an overview of the crowds. Not only can they be used to look out for any suspicious behavior, they can also help with crowd management to avoid any instances of over-crowding or disruption.
Furthermore, drones provide great footage of events - for use during the proceedings or for future promotional efforts.
Effective event safety is all about combining the old with the new - using traditional risk management techniques along with inventive new technology is your path to safer event planning. If you're concerned about an upcoming event, be sure to consult an event safety specialist or a local public safety authority for help working through your planning.