Post-financial crisis has seen many companies and sponsors return to the international events scene with renewed enthusiasm, evident by increased volume, along with a whole new generation of offerings from providers in the sector. However, despite many internal, mature risk management processes, the majority of international events still continue to present an Achilles heel when it comes to business travel health, safety and security.
Despite the fact the event may be held offsite or away from the usual place of employment, it still does not discharge a company from their usual duty of care or workplace health and safety obligations.
When it comes to international corporate events, meetings, incentives, conferences and gatherings, here is what every planner needs to know to ensure a successful, safe and secure event. In this article you will learn the most important safety and security planning tips starting with location, activities, emergency planning, monitoring and communications. By the end of this article you will have a rapid evaluation criteria and consistent, safe approach to ensure all your international corporate events run smoothly and prevent the majority of avoidable incidents that ruin otherwise great gatherings and corporate events.
Too many planners leap to an ideal location and then attempt to force all the solutions and planning solutions around this ideal destination. The best location must meet the requirements for an enjoyable, successful and functional site for all the planned activities but also provide for all the support needs such as routine medical, reliable transport, secure locations and safe environments. Any location that fails these initial criteria will only amplify any emergency situation and likely result in a higher overall risk to all involved.
While the initial location is important, it is just as important to evaluate all the activities needed for the event and identify any and all social activities that will take place in conjunction with the event.
International Corporate Events
Corporate meetings, incentives, conferences, and events can be high activity situations with lots of people coming and going along with information sharing and enjoyment opportunities. Therefore all proposed and possible activities must be considered and included in the final plan. This should include everything from arrivals, reception; check in, conference events, networking, social/entertainment, sightseeing, ground transport, shopping, internal travel and departures.
It is paramount that all activities available be considered in the chosen location, not just those provided on the official program as attendees or accompanying partners/families always seek out alternate options, with a high potential for emergency situations outside the traditional plans.
A commonly overlooked element is parallel or simultaneous events and activities. Other company functions, public holidays, climate changes, religious festivals and even internal company events such as product launches or press releases need to be considered and how they will impact the running of the event along with any altered threat or emergency planning concerns.
Only after all the activities, internal and external to the event, have been identified and mapped out can you progress to the emergency management and planning stage.
Emergency Planning First
This may seem counter intuitive but in my experience it is the far superior approach. With a set location and a list of activities you can now start to create broad and detailed emergency planning sessions. The reason this is a better approach is that you do not want to discover areas that require minor or major treatment solutions late in the budget, promotion, and management or confirmation cycles. For example, if you discovered that the local medical services were routinely overwhelmed on a weekend due to peak tourist activity in your chosen location, you would need to either reconsider the location as a plausible option or include onsite medical support as part of your budget and risk mitigation solution. Especially when you consider in your planning the impact and support demands should you have a group emergency such as food poisoning or the collapse of a viewers stand.
With an emergency support plan in place first, almost all your routine concerns and considerations will be itemized for completion. Rooms, transport, ushers, communications, medical, security, service providers and many more will have been considered and prioritized in the planning stage and now await procurement and confirmation in a far more organized sequence by the planning team. These services and requirements in the emergency plan, almost always have a routine and day-to-day requirement anyway, and both cost efficiencies and planning time can be reduced considerably.
No plan or assumptions are ever one hundred percent accurate; therefore a system for continued monitoring and review is also mandatory to ensure success.
Change is inevitable, especially if your event was scoped and planned weeks or months in advance. Therefore a reliable and effective system is required to identify and manage change in accordance to the priority required by the altered outcome.
Dedicated systems and resources, often already present as part of the overall event administration, needs to be harnessed to support the inevitable change management issues. Timings, resources, weather, personnel and services are all likely to alter in some shape or form prior to or during your ideal plan. Clearly defined information requirements, lines of communication, prioritization of response and follow up procedures need to be in place and communicated to those affected or influential to the process. This should be supported with an appropriate vehicle in which to share information such as email, SMS, radios, blogs, bulletin boards and so on.
The more information you collect, the more you have to process but the better informed you will be when making routine and emergency decisions.
Information, Information and more information
Plan to capture and access as much information as possible when managing successful corporate events. Too few planners and event managers appreciate or successfully capture and process routine information that could dramatically improve the efficiency and productivity of an event but also prove pivotal to emergency situations.
Consider well in advance how to store and access information. The right information should be accessible in the easiest possible way by those that need it and the coordination and evaluation of all input should be ongoing. Flight schedules, media events, meals, contact numbers, agendas, weather activity, emergency services, support resources, capabilities, response times, preparation time, cost, expertise, and all other requirements must be pre-prepared, captured and managed throughout the event. All this information should not die with the event’s conclusion but provide a template for future events and even return options for routine and extra ordinary business activity.
With all this preparation, it is almost criminal that too few prepare their attendees adequately in advance with pre-arrival preparations.
Pre-Arrival Preparations For Greater Corporate Event Safety and Security
With all the preparation and information activity up to this point, it remains illogical why so much of it is then not shared with attendees and planners. A centralized body of knowledge in which elements can be extracted to provide and prepare attendees is neither difficult nor indulgent.
Group pre-arrival guides, information and key updates should be delivered in a “readable” or “digestible” format to all those likely to attend and support the event. This channel and focus group should be regularly updated with the most salient points regularly until the completion of the event.
A more focused demographic such as organizers, supporters, families, technical personnel, alternate language groups, men, first time travellers/visitors, women and mixed national or cultural groups should be isolated and communicated to with more specific and relevant content. This is not just in the form of a general “goodies bag” that seem to dominate a lot of these events and are rarely read or retained by the majority of attendees. Any further segmentation such as those with dietary restrictions, medical conditions and so on should also be catered for and engaged. Event providers and suppliers could learn a lot in distinguishing themselves from the general market by providing this as part of the attraction and delivery offering. All this does not need to be the sole responsibility of the attending company but could easily be provided by the host facility/entity. Don’t forget, this is a two way street also with many social media platforms available for rapid and widespread distribution should attendees seek to share their opinion, dissatisfaction or even during a crisis. Therefore, channel monitoring is also advisable.
Routine and continued updates should be available that could easily be altered to include priority/emergency information updates should the need arise. Prior development and regular use of any communication platform will only enhance the success and engagement of the event.
Communications For Corporate Event Security
Event planners and managers are almost spoilt by choice with the various means and mediums for communications. The consolidation and consistency of message is the challenge, along with ensuring segmentation of both content and receiver. Facebook, YouTube, SMS, email, blog, website and numerous other social media platforms are all viable means for two-way communication. Planners should have already identified in their emergency planning what local options, limitations or nuances prevail and the best or most reliable for the task.
Regular and enjoyable communications are never a burden but frequent, irrelevant communications puts any emergency communication at risk as users may have already dismissed or blocked specific channels due to abuse. This must also be collaborated with all aspects and planners of the event.
Like all the afore mentioned elements, these systems don’t run by themselves. They need supervision and constant management throughout the lifecycle of the event and should not be shutdown or turned off until the event is officially complete and all attendees under care are safely on their way back to their point of origin.
It is not the plans that are important, it is the planning. Continued management and monitoring is a close second. All events, locations and activities require care and management to ensure they go as close as can be reasonably expected to plan.
Continued management is a team event and not solely dependent upon one or two individuals. Succession planning and redundancies should have been identified in the emergency-planning phase to prevent the vulnerability presented when one or two key people are unavailable momentarily or for extended periods.
Each stage, action and even event should be reviewed and analyzed for opportunities to improve the process or identify overlooked aspects.
When it comes to international corporate events, meetings, incentives, conferences and gatherings, these are the key health, safety and security points that every planner needs to know to ensure a successful, safe and secure event. You now have the most important safety and security planning tips starting with location, activities, emergency planning, monitoring and communications. Use this as a reference and checklist to ensure you have an evaluation criteria and consistent, safe approach to ensure all your international corporate events run smoothly and prevent the majority of avoidable incidents that ruin otherwise great gatherings and corporate events.