Suppliers who zero in on crisis management for conventions and tradeshows
By George Seli
n recent years, tragic reminders of the vulnerability determine whether and how much to invest on of live events have been in the public eye, from security services. “They go back to their legal the stage collapse at the Indiana State Fair in 2011 department after we initiate the contact and see, to the Boston Marathon bombings in 2013. With so from a liability point of view, what additional funds many performances and marathons that had they need to allocate to security,” says Alexan, transpired safely, no one expected these crises. former Chairmen of the IAEE’s Crisis Prevention Similarly, planners who work on scores of incidentand Management Task Force. free conventions, if not hundreds Moving from crisis preventhroughout their careers, undertion to response, a planner standably do not think about “The biggest challenge may not be a major player on crisis management as often as with a medical emergency the team that includes venue they think about site selection in this day and age is that staff and perhaps local police, and ROI. And when they do everybody has a cell phone. EMT, etc. But he or she can focus on risk preparedness, they may consider it to be more the We may have six EMTs onsite again have valuable coordinating role, White contends. province of meeting venue staff. but attendees are right on “What we expect from them “Surprisingly, there are many the phone calling 911.” is to manage and account [host companies] who don’t even for their own people. For want to talk about risk assessexample, we can’t know that ment. Or they will just depend on venue security,” observes Peter Alexan, President we lost Ms. Jones, while everybody else is out of the building.” A planner may also be involved in of Santa Ana, CA-based RA Consulting, a security crisis communications to attendees. management company. As a former meeting planner, Jane T. White, Event Manager at the Virginia Beach Convention Center, understands that mindset: “Well, I’m going to a building and they know what to do” in terms of crisis prevention and management, she explains. “The onus is on the venue almost all the time. For example, the venue would come back and say to the planner, ‘Because of the size of the crowd and the nature of your event, our recommendation is that you have this much security staff present.’” Similarly, planners would field recommendations from third-party security providers to ultimately 24
Beyond these contributions to crisis management, a planner is largely dependent on experts in that field for risk assessment and the development and execution of contingency plans. Still, it is helpful for a planner to have some understanding of how some of the industry’s best partners in security and safety operate, as this knowledge can guide their supplier sourcing in this area. Venue Preparedness
The Virginia Beach Convention Center trains its employees and contracted staff once a year to Facilities & Destinations 2014 summer
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