I always like to start new things, and fall is a great time to launch something I’ve been planning for a few weeks now. As my followers know, I’ve done podcasts before, but now I’m excited to announce an all-new format that will be quick, inspiring and fun to listen to. My new mantra – #KeepItSimple and #MakeItImpactful! Check out episode 1 to learn more about what I have in store. (Under a 2 min. listen!)
The event management team are experts in knowing the best locations and destinations for different types of events and we have spent a lot of time building and developing relationships with our international contacts.
The good news for all of our clients is that we deal with overseas events in exactly the same way as we would for a UK based event… the key is to ensure everyone has fun and the event leaves a lasting impression on all of the guests.
Business travel can at times be frustrating especially if you are having to contend with awkward language barriers and tricky time differences, however, with event companies constantly creating the laugher and fun this will never an issue for you.
It is not just the language barriers and time differences that tend to take the fun out of business travel. Busy or over booked planes, delays and rushing around the airport can also be a mood killer.
Over the years, we have learnt some valuable techniques for keeping business travel a fun experience. With just a bit of forethought and a few Internet searches, each trip becomes a fascinating adventure of fun and learning. Here are some ideas to try next time you are co-ordinating an international event and travelling for business.
1. Remove the bother to make more room for the fun!
All of the elements that cause business travelling to be a bother can very easily be irradiated. If for example you are travelling with a group which you are responsible for – try your hardest to travel light so that once you have checked your bag in you only have a small handbag or hand luggage item to lug around the airport.
If again, you are travelling with a large group – when you allocate seats on the flight for all of your passengers make sure that you allocate yourself a seat that is a few rows behind the group. This will give you the opportunity to either get some rest before touch down or to revisit your event ops and ensure everything is thus far running to schedule and nothing has been forgotten.
Once you have landed – be sure to contact the transfer company to ensure that they are there to meet with you and the group in arrivals and show you to the coach. When everyone is all aboard and enroute the hotel, in our experience having a fun tour guide on the coach is a fab way in kick start the trip.
2. Always allow a day of free time to the itinerary.
Some people feel business travel is a constant personal space invasion. Adding a day of free time to your itinerary is always a great idea. Guest’s like to know that there is an opportunity for them to explore the city, visit landmarks, sample the local cuisine or taking some time for myself. Although it is down to the event manager on most occasions to create the ‘fun’ often allowing your guests to have free time enables them to take charge of that for themselves.
3. Why not sample some of the local cuisine.
Arranging tastings in restaurants or even the chosen destinations local food markets is a brilliant way to introduce guests to the local cuisine. Activities such as this is also a great way to get the group talking and bonding with one another. If the chosen destination happens to be famous for its wines and beer aka South of France or Germany arranging a tour of a vine yard and/or brewery followed by a tasting is certain to keep your guests smiling.
4. Create your own interactive cultural guide.
Rather than sitting quietly in the hotel enjoying all of the facilities it has to offer, get the group and go on an adventure! Nearly every destination/location has something interesting within a stone’s throw; it might be a strange museum, historical sight, or a hidden bar famous for its local tipple. Together with your Destination Manager, why not plan a treasure hunt for the group through the city which will give them the opportunity to visit all of the sights. Another way to really emphasise the fun element would be to introduce actors into the tour who will catch up with the groups during different stages of the treasure hunt to deliver further clues and point them in the right direction. An activity such as this will also give your guests the opportunity to browse the local gift and souvenir shops. There is little you can’t buy online these days, which makes finding a local craft a rare joy.
5. Always chose fun and exciting venues.
Right at the beginning of the planning process we will provide our clients with a proposal of suggested venues for their international event. This proposal will include hotel options and also venues for any networking reception they wish to host during the trip. We will also cover fun and interested restaurant options too for group dinners.
When it comes to selecting the venues we always like to think outside of the box and introduce our clients to venues that they either may not have heard of before or venues that come with an extra shen ne say qua.
Event management companies work with a wide variety of clients within the corporate sector that, at some point in our partnership, have involved business travel. We understand that whilst one style of event is perfect for a law firm, that same style isn’t always going to be appropriate for others. We will always adapt and alter our approach to planning international events in order to meet our client’s criteria and preferences but most importantly introduce the FUN!
Every day we all work with the company’s moto in mind – MAKE IT DIFFERENT, MAKE IT MATTER, MAKE IT HAPPEN!
We like to think of ourselves as a ONE STOP FUN SHOP and EXTENSION OF YOUR TEAM that are responsible for bringing the fun!
So, you made it through the big industry trade show. Those events can be utterly exhausting, and you may not have accomplished everything you wanted to, but you made a ton of great connections. What is your next step? It is time to follow up on those links and make your magic happen. What you must do is write a follow-up email. We’ve put together some simple tips to help you write the perfect email to cast your business in the best light possible.
Don’t give your connections time to forget who you are or to meet their needs with another provider. As the old saying goes: “strike while the iron is hot.” Acting quickly is an easy way to make sure that your email makes a big impact.
Get to know your leads and customize the email. You are more likely to make a good impression with your email if you personalize it. Can you send it directly to the decision maker or address the pain points of the organization? If so, you are on your way to making a positive impact.
Think Beyond a Single Email
Chances are, many companies will be contacting your new connection after the trade show. A single email may get lost in the shuffle. A drip campaign or a lead nurturing campaign may be better suited to this job and allow you to build a relationship with the potential customer.
Put Effort Into the Subject Line
If you want to make sure your email messages are read and not just tossed into the digital trash bin, crafting a good subject line is key. There are many things you can do that will increase your readability. Check out some of the great information published on the topic by Hubspot, for starters. In the meantime, think about utilizing the client’s name in the subject line as a good way to make the initial connection.
Focus on Action
Instead of sending an email that reads like an advertisement for your company, send an email that focuses on actions that a company can take that benefits that firm. If those actions happen to involve your company, great! However, you want to make sure the message is phrased in such a way that it appears to be advice—not advertising.
Instead of a boring black and white email, think about adding photos, video, and other media elements. Even better, if you can add imagery that reminds the client of the connections made at the trade show, you will put yourself in an even better position—because you will be remembered and can build on that existing relationship.
It is important to bear in mind that after a major trade show that many prospects will be overwhelmed with correspondence. The large amount of mail generated after an event means that you must do something to differentiate yourself from the others. If you can do that, you will be more likely to earn a positive return on your trade show marketing investment.
One of the best ways to differentiate yourself is to take your customer’s opinions into mind. If you use a trade show lead capture app, you have the opportunity to collect more than just an email address.
A tradeshow is an investment, so approaching it the right way is a must. Make sure you consider the following items, from the way you approach the show to the swag you bring and even your behavior on site before your next big event:
Make Sure the Event is Worth it
Every event has to generate enough ROI to pay for your team to attend. Analyze last year’s (and any previous year’s) returns to be sure the show is really worth attending and use social media to set appointments and generate leads before the show even begins. The leads you capture are what makes the event worthwhile.
Be on your Best Behavior
Even if you are a dedicated introvert, go out of your way to be friendly and helpful to everyone you meet. Consider the trade show to be your stage – and you need to be performing from the moment you leave your hotel room until the moment you return. Make sure you and your team are on your best behavior and that you go out of your way to be kind to everyone you meet – you never know who is watching or who you are sharing an elevator with at a big show.
Speak or Join a Panel
Make your mark on the event (and invite all your contacts to attend) by speaking or joining a quality panel. You’ll position yourself and your brand well, showcase your expertise and get an in with new prospects if you speak at the event.
Track your Data
Who is coming, what kind of leads are you generating and what are they responding to? A nightly look at leads captured can help you make beneficial changes right on the spot and ensure you are truly resonating with your prospects.
Set Appointments in Advance
When everyone in your industry is traveling to the show, you have a great chance to make appointments for in person meetings. Set these in advance, have a great perk to give away and you’ll make a connection that will benefit you for years to come. If your reps typically travel to meet a client, this can help cut your travel costs and ensure they get the meeting in an exciting location with lots of activity and buzz.
Offer Unusual SWAG
Give away items that will actually make it home with your prospects and make them want to come to your booth. Use your swag as a compelling reward for those who stop by – it needs to be tempting enough to stop them in their tracks and ensure they take the time to stop by. Will a pen with your brand name really pull them in, or can you do a little better? This is a great time to bring the creative marketing types in and see what they come up with free of budget restraints.
Be Memorable and Buzzworthy
Make sure your booth is the one people are talking about after the show ends by creating a memorable and relevant experience for guests. From hands on demonstrations and trials to entertainment that relates to your booth and resonates with your prospects, make this an event to remember. Recent popular booths included everything from on-site video gaming to a handmade cotton candy station and even live, swimming mermaids (all features related directly back to the products and brand) and visitors lined up to have a chance to interact with the booth.
Bring your Best Reps
Make sure your best reps are there and watch them in action. Set performance goals with coveted prizes and watch your top performers spring into action. This is the chance to let your sales team shine, whether you have some established pros or fresh new talent.
Promote the Event (Like it’s your Own)
Use event hashtags, talk about it in your blog and market the event like you planned it yourself. The more press and coverage the event gets, the better it is for you; promoting the event to others benefits you in the long run.
Follow Up Right Away
Make sure you respond right away to questions and requests and try to set appointments right at the show. Instead of relying on paper business cards, use a trade show lead capture app to capture leads in a fun way and ensure that you have a way to follow up with every prospect you meet.
A trade show is an opportunity to boost your brand awareness, capture leads, and even launch a new product to a receptive and targeted audience. The goals you set before the show will help you streamline your efforts and maximize your ROI on the money you spend to get there and exhibit. You’ll also be able to measure the success of the show in a tangible way.
You’re spending money to get there, from your booth to actually transporting your team, so setting goals that allow you to get the maximum return on your investment ensures the show is truly a success. While you can just put up a booth and pass out materials, considering the following possibilities and goals allows you to really make the most of the show:
- Can you capture leads for your salespeople to follow up on later?
- Can you make appointments with people you’d otherwise have to travel to see?
- Can you get your brand in front of a wider audience or gather free publicity?
- Is there any market research you can gather while you are there?
- Can you give a new product a head start with a VIP launch or preview at the event?
Launch a New Product
A fast and easy way to generate buzz about your latest product is to offer a special, VIP sneak preview at your next show. You can do demos, tailor your booth around the new item and even do an in-person trade show survey to get feedback that can help you market your latest product effectively.
Boost Brand Awareness
How many people in your industry and related areas are aware of your brand? Your trade show experience offers a valuable opportunity to introduce or reintroduce your brand to your audience. Offer demonstrations, educate visitors about your product and get your items into people’s hands. A trade show appearance can help legitimize a new business or revitalize an existing one, making your prospect more aware of your brand.
What do your customers really think about your product, what are they most worried about in general and what needs do they have. A steady stream of visitors to your booth is a valuable opportunity for data collection via a lead capture app for trade shows; offer a prize and you’ll be able to capture leads and data with ease.
Meet the Media
Local, industry and national media may be at your event; this is a valuable opportunity to make connections that will help your business grow. Make sure you have and take along media relations kits to pass out to press and that you make your mark on the visiting journalists. You could also gain valuable press coverage, just by attending and being featured on television or in news media.
Channel Support and Building
Boost your existing channel relationships and forge new connections at industry shows. From your existing partners to new agents, distributors and dealers, a trade show is a valuable opportunity to connect.
It is likely your primary goal; capturing leads that your sales team can follow up on later. Incentivize lead capture and you’ll bring home plenty of data for your sales team to work with. Use a tradeshow lead capture app to collect data and make it easy for your team to make connections after the show has ended.
Improve Customer Relations
Work with your existing customers and forge new relationships by meeting in person at the show. You’ll be able to see more clients in the few days you’re all in the same city that you could any other time of year – without the travel costs.
Your own specific goals and objectives will vary, but using the general outline above to make sure you cover everything from lead generation to brand awareness and even media relations ensures you make the most out of your show investment.
Planning to attend a trade show can be overwhelming; having a clearly defined set of goals and a timeline can help you spread things out and ensure you have a successful show. From the initial strategizing and planning to the actual day of the event, here’s how to prepare for a successful show.
6 Months to 1 Year: Strategize
Which shows will you attend this year, and what are your goals? How much will it cost to attend and which shows are most likely to help you meet your goals? This is also the time to think about your booth and determine if any changes or additions are needed to suit the space you have in mind. Review last year’s trade show survey results, look at your prospect data and fine tune your strategy for the year to come.
6 Months Before the Show
Start planning for the show by choosing your primary goals, deciding what products or services you’re most interested in showcasing and beginning your marketing strategy. Start building buzz now and your target prospects will be ready to stop by on the big day. This is also the time to book a block of rooms at your hotel (even if you don’t know which specific staffers will be there) and to order promotional items with your business name and information.
Gather information from the host to determine where your booth will be, how the show will be marketed and what materials they’ll need from you. If there is an official show or industry hashtag, now is the time to start using it.
3 Months Before the Show
Choose the staff who will be attending, clear schedules and make any travel arrangements you need to for the event. Work on your technology – what will you use to capture leads, to display presentations or simply entertain guests? Select a lead capture app for trade shows now and make sure everyone knows how to use it. You can also use this time to finalize your marketing materials and to make decisions on your promotional materials and choose a cohesive look for your booth staff.
One Month Before the Show: Finalize Preparations and Pack
Finalize everything, from your booth shipment to your branded materials and promotions. Meet with your show team to discuss the show and your goals and to hand out roles for the big day. Everyone should understand the goal of the show and their particular tasks – this is important if you are bringing along first timers or those who are not salespeople. Talk about lead generation and why making connections is important and make cheat sheets for anyone who needs them. This is also an ideal time to practice skills needed for the show and run through some sample conversational openings and demos with your team.
At the Show
You’ve laid in a lot of groundwork and the big day is here. Get the most from your show experience by getting out there and making connections. Greet visitors, capture leads and pass out promotional products; you’ll benefit from these connections for months to come. This is also an ideal time to make in person connections and sales visits you might otherwise have to travel to make.
After the Show: Follow-Up
One of the most important things you can do – and one of the most often missed – is to follow up with your prospects after the show. Organize the leads generated by your tradeshow lead capture app and distribute them to your sales team, answer any questions that arose and analyze your results to determine if this specific show is worth doing again next year. This is also the time to determine what worked well for your booth and the overall experience and what you might want to change next time. Following up with connections you made via social media and email can also help you solidify your relationship and ensure your brand is remembered long after the show has concluded.
Just before all the inauguration craziness in Washington, D.C., I had the opportunity to spend a weekend at the very newly renovated Washington Marriott Georgetown. You may have seen me posting about my experience there on Twitter and Facebook with their Marriott Reward Points program (I’m a sucker for free points – ha!). From meeting space to rooms, they just completed a $28Million renovation and the results of their work was easy to see from the moment you stepped into the hotel. You also immediately notice their great location (between Georgetown and Dupont Circle, in the heart of D.C.) is one of their most attractive highlights.
The lobby has been completely redone and is a modern take on everything I think a lobby should be. Simple checkin, lots of work spaces with free wifi and all the essentials (wireless chargers, snacks and drinks). Adjacent to the lobby is their new M Club Lounge – designed for ultimate comfort for their Elite and Club members and has super speedy wifi, plenty of places to charge and work, different seating arrangements for every style and hot food offered in the morning and evenings. To be fair, my favorite part was the wine on tap! With just a scan of my room key, you could purchase a glass of wine from the tap – perfect for an introverted techy like me!
There’s a new restaurant located on the ground floor and the food was absolutely delicious!
We had the pleasure of staying in one of their suites and the rooms are modern, spacious and elevated. They took input from over 5,000 customers representing a wide range of demographics to design these rooms and you can tell. The rooms are comfortable, useful and flexible for many needs.
Of course, every meeting planner out there wants to know about their meeting space. The first thing I noticed, though I didn’t say anything about it, was a dedicated office for their Event Technology Manager, right on the meeting floor level. From a tech perspective, how much better could it get? The rooms are very flexible and have the ability to accommodate groups, both large and small. They reflect many of the characteristics of more modern venues – rewriteable surfaces, magnetic panels, shared-screen technology and common working/living spaces.
If you’re hosting an event in DC, I strongly recommend checking out the Marriott Georgetown. With their renovated style and ah-mazing customer service, you’ll have all the flexibility you need to design the meeting or event of your dreams!
THE AWESOME: The meeting space at the Washington Marriott Georgetown is great with lots of natural light in the smaller breakouts and common areas. And, to top it off, the customer service really puts this venue on the map. If you’re looking to work with staff who make it happen for you and your guests, this is the place to come!
THINGS TO NOTE: Don’t miss an experience in their restaurant downstairs called The Visiteur! The food is delicious and locally sourced. And, as the staff about doing a private cooking class in their private dining room – it’ll be an experience for your guests to remember!
MY VERDICT: A great pick for meetings and events in the DC area. If your group is ~500 or less, this space gives a lot of flexibility and had that modern feel you’re looking for!
This is a sponsored post – I received compensation in exchange for writing this review. Although this post is sponsored, all opinions are my own.
Unless your company is already financially sound, you’re probably going to heavily rely on corporate sponsorship for funding your event. Unfortunately, acquiring sponsorship isn’t as easy as just sending out a request via email. Sponsors are bombarded with dozens of request letters hardly different from your own.
Here are six secrets to up your prospects of securing sponsorship and cultivating a long-term relationship with event sponsors.
1. Check Sponsor Guidelines, if Applicable
Some companies sponsor events so often that they have created their own guidelines that outline their terms and conditions and application instructions. Review the guidelines if one is available and be careful not to include anything in your proposal that runs counter to the funding rules.
Some companies, for example, only sponsor during certain times of the year. Don’t be requesting event sponsorship for your March conference when the company is only providing funds during fall and winter. Likewise, don’t request a fund of $10,000 when the guideline clearly states that $8,000 is the maximum it provides.
2. Outline What You’re Willing to Provide in Return
Sponsors aren’t sponsoring your event out of altruism. They do it because they get exposure out of it in return. Your Proposal should outline in detail what you’re willing to give in return for the funds. You should include some sort of tiered system.
The following is an example of what is meant by this:
- Tier 1: $1,000 sponsorship – include sponsor logo on two swag items
- Tier 2: $2,000 sponsorship – include sponsor logo on digital signage
- Tier 3: $3,000 sponsorship – allow sponsor representative to speak for 10 minutes before conference presentation.
- Tier 4: $4,000 sponsorship – allow sponsor to set up a booth at the venue
- Tier 5: $5,000+ sponsorship – all of the above
The sponsor may also want to negotiate. Perhaps they’re interested in tier 1 but want their logo on three swag items. Be willing to negotiate to come to an agreement beneficial for both parties.
3. Foster a Long-Term Relationship
It’s easier to retain an existing sponsor than to find a new one. This is why you need to make an effort to keep the ones you managed to acquire. To remain on their good side, do some nice things for the sponsor even after the event. Perhaps you can write a positive review of one of the sponsor’s products or even offer some incentive to your followers who click your link and purchase the product.
By continuing to exhibit a gesture of goodwill, the sponsors will view your company favorably come time for your next event.
4. Be an Active Partner in Your Sponsor’s Charity
Some companies are actively involved in a charity or even have one they started themselves. Offer to do something for the charity. Maybe you can invite a representative to the event and allow that person to speak to your audience.
You should continue to be an active contributor for the charity after the event. You can create a video about the organization with a donation link, or volunteer some of your staff to partake in the charity’s own events.
A charity organization is a common collective that brings you and your sponsor closer together. If you are already active in a charity and your sponsor isn’t, then offer to make them an honorary participant in the organization. This will surely benefit the sponsor’s branding by adding a philanthropic aspect to their image.
5. Consider a Limited-Time Offer
It’s commonplace for for-profit companies to routinely provide special offers, such as 24-hour-only deals or promotional giveaway events.
The idea is to drive traffic to stores or online shops. You can do something similar when courting your sponsors. If you have reached out to multiple sponsors at once, then you can give a special offer to the first sponsor that signs on.
For instance, if you’re using a tier system like the one outlined earlier, then maybe you give the sponsor the next highest tier benefit (i.e. tier 3 benefits for tier 2 contribution).
You should make efforts to nurture sponsors the way you nurture customers throughout a sales process.
6. Pre-event Sponsor Powwow
Do you know what brings people together better than anything else? Food and drinks. Obviously, sponsors want a piece of your consumer base. You can do this by hosting a smaller get-together event in the days leading up to the main conference. This will be mainly for the attendees to get to know the sponsor and their products. Make it a food-centric event with plenty of refreshments served.
Of course, hosting a separate event is a whole new undertaking and entails additional expenses. Since this event is for the sponsors, let them know that you’ll help organize it if they completely foot the expenses.
Event management also includes your interactions with your sponsors. Sponsorship is a win-win solution for both parties, so make it known what your event brings to the table. A successful event means success for the sponsors since they benefit from the brand exposure. Show prospect sponsors why your proposal is a golden goose for them.
Promoting your event on social media is a given. However, most planners have a tendency to just stick to prominent social networks like Facebook and Twitter. If it’s a company conference you’re arranging, then LinkedIn of all networks is the spot to be advertising it. After all, LinkedIn is the place for business outreach.
Never used LinkedIn for event promotion? Here are a few ideas to help kick start your campaign.
1. LinkedIn Ads
There are two forms of paid LinkedIn Ads. The first is not unlike Google Adwords where you pay by the impression or with each click. The other method is a sponsored update, which is the more effective of the two because you can target the ads to a specific demographic by filtering results based on factors like industry, job title, location, etc.
The targeting can extend beyond your followers. Sponsored updates can be seen on a user’s update stream and even on their mobile devices.
Both methods come with analytics where you can check the number of times your ad appeared, click-through rate, and so on.
Photo credit: Ad Stage
LinkedIn Sponsored Update
Photo credit: Marketing Land
2. Use Your Company Profile
If you already have an existing company profile with a decent following, then use that as a primary outlet for reaching out. Just send a notice that you’re having an event and everyone and their family is invited. Follow up with a link to the main events page.
A LinkedIn company page doesn’t allow you to connect to people, though individual followers can choose to follow updates from your page. For this reason, your outreach may be limited depending on how well your brand is known. Nevertheless, the company page still serves as a nice main hub for sending out updates.
3. Get Your Staff to Do the Same
Your staff are part of the event planning just as much as you are. Even though some of their LinkedIn followers will overlap with your own, they may still have a good number of followers that aren’t currently following your company page.
Remind your staff that the event is a group effort and get them to do the same outreach on their end. To get them motivated, you can reward them the same way you would reward affiliates. Perhaps you can provide some sort of tier system where they get some prize for every X number of people they refer.
Aside from staff, you should also encourage anyone else involved in the event to do the same. This includes sponsors, speakers, and entertainers. They have just as much to benefit from in terms of exposure. It’s in their own interest to push the event.
4. LinkedIn Long-Form Publishing
LinkedIn has its own publishing platform where users can submit their own long-form posts. This is a great way to create informative content that helps establish your brand as an expert industry figure. Use the platform mainly for educational content, only briefly mentioning your event in passing so as not to come off as being too promotional. It is acceptable, however, to occasionally do a press release-style post highlighting the event, such as in this example with Lovegrove Entertainment.
All submitted posts are available for view on the “post” section of your profile. It’ also shared with your connections via news feed. Even members who aren’t followers can view your post and choose to receive updates the next time you post. It’s highly recommended that you set your profile visibility to “everyone,” which will make the post searchable both on LinkedIn and in search engines.
Keep in mind that long-form posts can only be submitted by individual users and not from company pages. Also, be sure to encourage readers to use the LinkedIn Pulse app, which sends industry-related posts to readers based on what they read or what their followers have read.
5. LinkedIn Groups
Promote your event in an industry-related LinkedIn Group or create your own. Whichever you do, be sure to become a valued contributing member. This means participating in discussions, lending your own expertise, or starting a new discussion topic.
What you don’t want to do is immediately begin pushing your event the minute you become a member. This will become blatantly clear what your motive is, and you’ll likely get banned by the group administrator. Focus on becoming a valued member of the group; only then will you earn the right to occasionally promote an event.
You can use LinkedIn’s group directory, which contains a comprehensive listing of groups sorted by alphabet.
6. Showcase Page
A LinkedIn Showcase Page is a subsection of your company page that has its own unique content and separate followers. Showcase pages are usually created to promote a smaller division within your company, or a smaller company within the parent company.
A showcase page can be created for your event. This can even be a permanent page if you hold events on a regular basis. This will be where you post the latest updates and other content, such as highlights from the previous event or behind-the-scenes stuff.
Once you have an events Showcase Page created, notify followers on your main company page to join. Encourage staff to do the same with their own followers even if they’re not current company page followers.
LinkedIn is heavily underutilized. Many planners fail to take advantage of this social network and its vast trove of resources for connecting to an industry demographic. Use LinkedIn for promoting your next event just as you would with Facebook or Twitter. The results will speak for itself.
You want guests to have a good time at your event. The fun, though, can come to an abrupt halt if someone ends up getting hurt. With an injury comes serious liability issues.
As a planner, it’s your obligation to ensure attendees and guests are able to partake in the activities in a safe environment. Security is of utmost importance and must not ever be overlooked.
1. Choose a Responsible Venue
The venue should provide a safe environment. Scout for the following when determining whether the venue meets safety requirements:
- Ask the venue administrator for records of the last fire and earthquake inspection
- Know where all the exits are. Can those doors be opened from the outside? Is there furniture or other equipment blocking emergency exit doors?
- Are there fire extinguishers located throughout the facility?
- Is there a clear path outside the venue designated for emergency vehicles?
- Can the venue accommodate the expected turnout? Exceeding the maximum occupancy limit can become a fire hazard.
These are the questions you need to be asking a venue administrator. Public facilities are required to follow strict building codes. Be sure the building is up to date and meets city mandates.
This is especially important in the wake of a massive fire at a warehouse in Oakland, CA. The fire broke out during an electronic dance event, leaving multiple attendees dead. As of the date of this writing, the case is still pending, but the building’s owner has confirmed that the venue has not been inspected since he signed the lease three years ago.
2. Check all Guest and Staff for ID
You should have a list of attendees that pre-registered. You should also have a system in place to register walk-in guests on the spot. People that registered should be given an Identification badge of sorts. Anyone without ID that is not company or venue staff should not be allowed to enter the premise. No exceptions.
People who try to enter without ID may simply be party crashers trying to freeload on the event without paying for a ticket. However, there may also be those looking to enter to disrupt the event in some way or cause deliberate bodily harm. Either way, people without ID need to be turned away.
On the subject of checking IDs, all bags should be searched as well. Make it known on the company events page and on all promotional material that ALL bags are subject to a search. This also includes bodily scans using a metal detector.
3. Train Event Staff
Your event staff needs to know how to react in an emergency scenario, both natural and manmade. If the fire alarm goes off, for example, does staff exit the venue with everyone else, or do select members stay behind to ensure exit in a safe and orderly manner?
What about an unruly guest? If he’s not cooperating with staff orders, how do they proceed? At what point does it become appropriate to use physical force to restrain a disorderly guest?
There is also the very serious and scary issue of an active shooter or terrorist attack. This has become an unfortunate reality, and an event with a mass public gathering creates an open opportunity for creating mass casualties. What’s the procedure if an active shooter is suspected of being on the premise or even in an adjacent facility?
4. Prepare for Worst-Case Scenarios
Worst-case scenarios are unlikely to occur, but your staff needs to be ready to respond in the event something goes wrong.
Prepare a backup plan and perform a dry-run with your team before the event. A backup plan may include the following scenarios:
- Creating a designated rallying point for guests in the event of a fire or earthquake.
- Designating a room for treating an injury while awaiting medical arrival
- Designating a room for holding an unruly guest while awaiting police arrival
- Determining who on your staff is CPR-certified or has some other medical training
Each staff member should also have walkie-talkies so they can stay in communication among one another throughout an emergency.
5. Hiring Real Security Personnel
Some event planners limit the security to their own staff with some level of informal security training. It’s recommended, however, that you hire an actual security detail. This includes a team of formerly trained individuals in full uniform and armed with items like zip cuffs, batons, and possibly a firearm. Their presence alone is often enough to deter would-be troublemakers.
The security crew will then be your go-to contact for all emergency situations. The security personnel are the pros here, and all guests and staff will take instructions from them if disaster hits.
Some security services also provide plain-clothing personnel to blend in with the attendees. This allows them to more easily spot suspicious activity. If the security detail includes undercover personnel, be sure your staff recognizes who these people are.
6. Assess the Event
Higher profile events are more prone to disruption. Would you classify your event as high profile? This is something that a trained security team may be able to determine based on factors like location, number of attendees, and nature of event.
If your company or product is met with disapproval from a certain group, for example, then it could be disrupted by protestors who may incite violence. An assessment will determine the level of security you need. If it’s very low risk, then you may not even need professional security and can make do with your own staff.
Security assessment would be a nonissue in a perfect world. Unfortunately, the reality and the times we live in call for security measures to keep guests safe and prevent a productive event from turning into a nightmare.