An event planner's checklist might be long, but there's one item that should always be included: safety.
Particularly in the wake of multiple mass shootings, risk-management should be top of mind for meetings planners. But ensuring event safety goes beyond just worrying about guns. It is the planner's role to ensure that the venue is appropriately equipped, proper security measures and assessments have been made beforehand, and staff members have been trained for all possible emergencies.
Follow the four steps below from Eventbrite to help make sure you are properly prepared.
1. Consider Safety When Selecting Your Venue
Safety and security should not be an afterthought. Instead, meeting planners should keep event security in mind at every step of the planning process, starting with venue selection.
Before getting to the contract phase, ask the following questions: Is there enough space and seating in the venue to accommodate attendees without overcrowding? Is there access for people with disabilities? Does the facility have its own security staff? Are there any on-site hazards?
"If you go to a place that doesn't have safety services, then you need to deliver them yourself by hiring contract guards or emergency medical stations, whatever it may be to mitigate that risk to hold your event in that location. Or, you need to pick a different location," said Bruce McIndoe, president and founder of WorldAware, which helps organizations identify and manage risks, on a recent episode of the Eventful podcast. "'Those are your choices. You can't ignore it any more."
2. Perform a Risk Assessment of Your Event
It's not enough to just assess the venue. In order to make sure you're prepared for every possible scenario, you'll need to develop a thorough risk assessment of your entire gathering. Common issues to look for include unstable equipment, fire hazards, first aid equipment, what to do in bad weather and how you will manage your crowd.
Sample risk assessments can be found online, but you'll want to tweak the template for your meeting. Then, go through the assessment with your staff, rank each risk according to severity and identify who is at risk in each scenario.
3. Develop a Plan
Once you've identified potential risks and hazards, you'll need to develop a detailed plan of action in the case of an emergency. This includes how you will communicate with your staff and the staff at the venue, what the appropriate on-site response is for each risk, who your emergency points of contact are, etc.
The more detailed the plan, the better. This will ensure your staff knows exactly who to contact and what to do when disaster strikes.
4. Provide Safety Training
When you arrive on site, hold a safety training session with all staff members and suppliers to walk through the emergency plan, answer questions and ensure everyone is on board. Then when attendees arrive, make safety announcements periodically and post flyers with critical safety information throughout the building.
Emergencies can't always be prevented, but you can do your best to prepare. By considering venue safety, creating a crisis plan and training staff and suppliers, you can help minimize any issues that may arise.