At the 2019 FICP Fall Symposium, attendees took a deep dive into risk management through an engaging session with panelists from multiple facets of the meetings industry, including Joe Fijol, Managing Partner - Florida, 360 Destination Group; Dana Keeler, CMP, Meeting & Event Manager - Leadership & Sponsorship Events, Liberty Mutual Insurance; Isabel Mahon, Director of Sales Incentive/Insurance, Fairmont Hotels & Resorts; and moderator Roger Rickard, Founder and President, Voices in Advocacy®. Given the present social, environmental, and political climate in which we live, this area is rapidly growing as a hot topic among meetings professionals and hospitality partners alike. Read on to hear the leading insights gleaned from ‘Mitigating Risk in a Volatile World’ and identify valuable takeaways you can apply to your risk management strategy.
Weather and Safety Preparation
Being transparent with your clients surrounding safety and best practices is crucial to success. A panelist discourages high-risk activities such as helicopter tours, wave running, and beach parties.
It comes as no surprise that a concise written plan must be established and curated for each event before any event action-item is executed. In addition, having standardized plans for specific emergencies, such as an active shooter or unexpected weather, create a sense of control and consistency in your team that can be acted upon immediately need-be.
Have you ever considered an event readiness exercise? This facet of preparation is what differentiates protocol from execution; it is important to recognize that standardized plans are not ‘one size fits all’. Panelists agreed that collaborating with colleagues or consultants in PR and corporate security to review onsite protocol in case of an emergency is required in modern meetings planning.
Despite being extremely variable itself, weather is quite predictable in the meetings planning process compared to the ever-changing socio-political climate. Panelists gave multiple concrete examples of how their clients have been affected: Mexican resort murders resulting in policies barring future events in Mexico, clients relocating Texas events because of the transgender bathroom law, and, on the horizon, the concern of hosting events in the swing state of Florida during election season. In our modern world of social media and political extremism, the aspect of human behavior is undoubtedly the most unpredictable.
One of the greatest human-based risks that is the most difficult to predict, identify and handle is human trafficking. The nature of events, which brings individuals from across the world together for such a short period, unfortunately creates an environment in which this illegal activity can thrive. Our panel recommended having all onsite employees trained to be equipped with the tools to mitigate and intervene.
When working internationally and with client executives, one panelist shared staggering statistics surrounding security: not only are 100% bringing their own, but many also bring a doctor. When you consider how these decision makers affect your bottom line, identify ways to cater to this need for security. Communicate with the U.S. Embassy. Ensure that the security team is fully integrated with the event mobile app in case of an emergency. Require that phone numbers be listed on all transportation manifests. Offer a discount for the security and medical teams’ accommodations. These actions are demonstrative of your awareness and support of such safety precautions.
Social media has created a fantastic outlet to amplify brand voice and highlight the success of meetings and events. However, given the visual nature of this tool, it can also create substantial legal challenges.
Our panel agreed that all employees must sign a code of conduct regarding what content can and cannot be posted to official company feeds. In addition, it is considered best practice to forbid vendors to take photos at events due to the risk of intellectual property being in the photo, such as logos.
Concerning attendees, it can be difficult to manage what they post. By assigning someone the role of monitoring hashtag usage and tagged photos, you can better manage the feed of content being associated with your event.
There is no doubt that our industry is defined by variables, many of which are out of our control. By establishing clear best practices and openly communicating with both your team and the client, risk can be best forecasted and mitigated.