Price and availability are the main considerations when choosing a venue, but Tyra Hilliard, Esq., CMP, suggests one more: “Think like a lawyer. If you had to justify in court why you chose a particular venue, what would you say? Hilliard says no one expects you to be clairvoyant, but there are basic items to cover. Consider these useful tips from MeetingsNet’s Risk360 conference when deciding on the setting for your next meeting, even if you’ve used the location or venue before. Just as prices change, so do personnel, safety equipment, and threat levels.
• Research crime information for the venue’s neighborhood on apps such as CrimeMapping.
• Talk to the local police about crime, traffic, and environmental hazards.
• Look at State Department travel advisories, not just at the time you book the event but historical warnings for the time of year your event will be held.
• Find out what events/festivals are taking place at the same time as yours. Are any controversial? Will they strain local transportation or use other public resources you’ll rely on?
• Include the AHA/SA Security Assessment Checklist with your RFP. Consider it a red flag if the venue does not want to complete the form.
• Ask if any threats were made or any incidents occurred recently. The venue’s response should indicate how seriously they take security.
• Ask about on-site medical equipment, including epinephrine pens and automated external defibrillators.
• Request that the venue’s head of security accompany you on the site visit to answer questions and explain safety measures. This is your opportunity to assess your level of trust in the security team and hotel management and decide whether your event warrants an outside security agency.
• Talking to the venue may give you some insight into how competent the management is at handling an unexpected incident, but unfortunately, you can never be 100 percent sure. Melissa Fromento, MeetingsNet managing director and Risk360 moderator, has this anecdote, “At an event in Nashville, I asked the hotel to salt the outside paths after an ice storm, and they sent people out with salt shakers!”
This is one of five articles on actions you can take to make your meeting more secure. Also read:
Risk360: Do One Thing
Risk360: The Contract
Risk360: Communications Policy
Risk360: Developing an Emergency Plan
Risk360: On-Site Safety