Event planning is all about putting together an incredible experience for the participants. An important part of that experience is event security which ensures that your event is a secure and safe environment for attendees. An event can be a dangerous place if proper precautions are not taken, especially ones featuring large groups of people packed in a tight space. Double that if the event is serving alcohol. This isn’t to say event organizers should approach their events with suspicion and paranoia, but rather with caution and diligence. Keeping event security in mind allows you to be confident that your guests will have a safe and fun time. Forming an exit strategy as you put together your event is the best way to ensure that things can go off without a hitch. Make sure your crisis plan includes each of these parts:
1. Keep an eye out for controversy
Not every emergency is predictable, but you should do as much as you can to avoid being blindsided by disaster. The best way to do this is to follow the news and media relevant to your event industry or the cities your events are in. Controversy breeds conflict, and conflict can devolve into disaster at an event. The crisis plan for your event should be aware of any potential conflicts or protests and adjust accordingly. For example, if a singer you’ve booked has recently been outspoken about an issue that upsets many people, you may need extra security for them. Or, if the venue has been the target of threats in the past, you should ensure that your evacuation plans are thorough and communicated to all members of staff. Protests can lead to large crowds gathering outside the gates of your event, which could require you to have alternative exits available. Which leads us to…
2. Keep your exits clear
If the venue needs to be evacuated, it will need to be evacuated quickly. For this to happen, the exits to the venue need to be free of obstacles and obviously marked. Every guest should have a direct route to leave. There is no way to overstate the dangers of failing to properly plan out exit routes.
3. Don’t let things get too crowded
Nothing threatens event security quite like overcrowding the venue. You want to maximize revenues, and the best way to do that is to get as many people to buy tickets as possible. But you cannot sacrifice the safety of the participants to reach this goal. Overcrowding the venue can make safe evacuation nearly impossible. Serious injuries can occur from people having to push and shove past each other to escape. Most venues will enforce an occupancy limit that the fire marshal has required of them, and you should respect this limit to ensure a safe event.
It’s also important to make sure you aren’t attracting people to areas where large groups will not fit. Places such as merchandise stands, bathrooms, and bars will all have a crowd around them for the duration of the event. Keeping them separated can make sure that there isn’t a dangerous buildup of people in certain areas that may not be designed for it.
4. Highly visible security personnel
It’s basic psychology, no one wants to start trouble when they’re standing next to someone who will kick them out. Just like how patrol cars on the street help bring crime rates down, highly visible security guards make trouble makers think twice. This means stationing security guards by the exits, near the stage, and other places where everyone in the audience can see them. There is a fine line to walk here, however. Too many security guards can send the message that you are expecting trouble, while too few may say that “anything goes”. In order for this event security strategy to work, your staff and security personnel will need clear and obvious credentials as well. A jacket reading “security” isn’t always enough, you need difficult to imitate credentials which you staff can use with confidence to discern themselves from the crowd.
5. Know your staff
Event professionals put a lot of trust in their staff. Security guards are trusted to understand reasonable measures to keep the event safe. Ticket scanners are responsible for making sure only those with tickets are inside the event. Box office staff are handling cash transactions. If you want these jobs performed efficiently and safely, you need to make sure you have a staff you can trust. Worse yet, allowing just anyone onto your event staff could lead to someone with malicious intentions inside your event. Not to say you need to do heavy vetting on every member of your event team. All it takes is some amount of background check or working with people experienced in the event industry can do a lot to safeguard your event.
6. Have a good gate management system
Frustrated crowds can lead to aggressive crowds, which can be dangerous. One of the quickest ways to frustrate your event participants is to use a slow moving or malfunctioning ticket system. When the line into the event is long and slow, guests are left outside in potentially cold or otherwise uncomfortable weather. Quick working ticket scanners and an effective scanning system can do wonders to get people into the event as fast as possible. Minimizing this risk avoids any tense or potentially dangerous moments outside your event. Quick scanning lines also add to the overall experience and help to make your event memorable and enjoyable. At Xorbia events, we provide ticket scanning staff and use lighting fast scanners. We’ve proven again and again, fast lines lead to better events. Want to learn more about gate management techniques? Check out this blog post!
7. Protect Customer Data
In the age of online ticket purchases, event security now extends beyond the physical event. Keeping your guests safe includes protecting the personal information shared with you during the purchase process. The internet has no shortage of hackers and cyber criminals constantly hunting for credit card information they can make money on. The last few years of news has been filled with security breaches that have led to millions of compromised credit cards. These breaches have powerful impacts on people’s lives and create a PR perfect storms that can be hard to recover from. To keep your guests safe from cyber criminals, you need to make sure you are working with a ticket company and credit card processor that values and prioritizes security. For more about online security, and to see how Xorbia protects our ticket purchasers, click on this link.
As we’ve seen in the news, sometimes even the most prepared and secure events can undergo disaster. Still, preparation and diligence are the best way to ensure that you are ready in the intensely unfortunate event of a crisis.