Security was barely even an afterthought when planning an executive offsite or corporate event five years ago. However, attacks on shopping districts, sports stadiums and convention centers have become an all-too-common occurrence. In fact, the number of mass shootings in the U.S. rose above 300 in 2018, prompting event planners to reevaluate their physical security strategies. Is it time for you to rethink your safety checklist? Here are four steps to help get started on building a formalized security plan.
1. Evaluate Current Security Processes
Before developing a formal security strategy, take the time to survey current security measures to get a sense of what is working and what isn’t. This will reveal what is currently in place, as well as which processes are missing. To start, incorporate feedback from a variety of sources within the venue, such as customer service or guest feedback. For example, visitor experience is an important part of a successful event. By identifying guest flow, invasiveness and areas for improvement, event managers can build a plan that keeps venues safe while maintaining an open and inviting feel.
Additionally, connect with the human resources team to evaluate training for security guards. While some guards are current or former law enforcement, others may be new to security or may serve as greeters to maintain people flow. Ahead of an event, confirm guards are up-to-date with training, and if not, build training into their security plan.
2. Understand the Level of Security Needed
Event venues have a unique set of security challenges–open design, an influx of guests and a varying set of security capabilities. One day, a venue may be hosting a well-known speaker who attracts a large crowd. The next day, it could have several lesser-known speakers dispersed throughout the showroom floor.
Ahead of an event, event managers must determine the appropriate level of protection and screening needed for each day, based on the threat assessment of the attendees, topic of discussion, area and building.
3. Make a List of Security Measures to Implement
With a solid understanding of the current security measures in place and levels needed, think about immediate changes to improve security. This doesn’t need to be a drastic change. Focus on what could make an impact. For example, changes might include hiring additional guards for a high-profile guest or starting to use technology to supplement the guard force. It could also include finding a trusted security advisor to serve as a resource and help demystify the planning process.
4. Build the Plan
Event managers can no longer use a one-size-fits-all approach to security. Tailored processes and protocols ensure security is properly deployed throughout an event. The planning process may take weeks or months and could go through multiple budget cycles and approvals, but event managers today need to consider which steps will have the highest impact to confidently deliver a safe environment for guests.
Anil Chitkara is the president and co-founder of Evolv Technology. Previously, he was an executive at Oco, Inc. and Parametric Technology Corporation where he was responsible for revenue, operations and strategy.