Host Safe and Secure Meetings

By Heather Baldwin

With heightened terrorism alert levels and a war in Iraq, few topics are more applicable to the meetings business today than event security. Suddenly this meeting component, which often was far down the list of meeting planning priorities, has catapulted to the top of the priority list for many companies. Not surprisingly, experts in this field, such as Richard Werth, president of Franklin, Tennessee-based Event & Meeting Security Services, are finding themselves in great demand. Werth offers these tips for companies interested in making their next meetings more secure.

  • Stay alert to local and international news, which can change very quickly and might affect your meeting or travel plans. A good starting point is the U.S. Department of State’s travel warning site at
  • Consider lower profile destinations, venues and/or alternative meeting solutions.
  • Examine your existing event contracts to determine the affect of cancellations, changes, and so on. Review your insurance policies to determine coverage.
  • Review your event and travel policies and procedures to ensure they are relative to this new environment in which we now must operate.
  • Ensure that emergency plans are integrated into every event. Develop contingency destinations and facilities in case venues must be changed.
  • To reduce your organization’s name exposure, use only low-profile signage and badges, non-company-name merchandise items, and so on.
  • Establish a good working relationship with hotel and facility security management and understand how they will support you and your event.
  • Develop an emergency plan that includes critical local resources. Maintain accurate lists of all attendees, their hotel(s) and room numbers and their emergency contact information.
  • Provide attendees with useful security, health and cultural guidelines customized to the destination, venues and activities.
  • Brief the event staff on security and contingency procedures.
  • Establish effective access control policies and procedures to ensure exclusive access by authorized personnel.
  • Consider professionally licensed and operated charter aircraft companies as an alternative to commercial air travel.
  • If a crisis or emergency occurs, leadership and communication will be key. Establish a single point of contact to avoid confusing or contradictory communications.
  • If you must use a high-rise hotel, consider requesting lower-level guestroom floors. The second through eighth floors are considered the safest from an evacuation perspective.
  • Use only professional event security resources that have an established track record and understand your event objectives. Make security an integral part of both the event management planning process and the actual event.

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