When the FICP Influence Committee met last May in Chicago, its objective was to identify areas of focus that would have the greatest positive impact on the meetings and events industry and deliver the most value to meetings professional members. The consensus was risk management. Who else to accept this challenge but those whose companies are directly related and impacted?
The committee swapped stories about the frequency and impact of disruptions at their events and quickly concluded that, “It happens.” In our business, anything can happen at any time and anywhere. The committee recommended, and the board agreed, that FICP will place a strong emphasis on security and risk management content.
FICP is not alone. Virtually every meetings industry organization is addressing this topic in some manner. Here are a few meetings I have attended this year to explore this topic further:
Secure Tourism Summit, U.S. Travel Association
April 2017, New York, NY
An audience poll indicated that 15% review their crisis plan more often than annually, 47% review their crisis plan annually, and 18% either do not have a crisis plan or do not know how often it is reviewed or rehearsed. Some key take-aways:
- Strike a balance between providing security and providing a welcoming environment.
- Prepare and prevent. Having a plan is one thing. Executing it is another. Rehearse your plan when the stakes are not so high. Meet with, get to know and practice with the local authorities. Develop relationships now before you need to act.
- Communication and chain of command are essential: Who has authority to act? Who decides? Who speaks? Who implements? In one instance, three people thought they were in charge.
- Be transparent and truthful, and know when to turn it on and off. People need to know, but only what impacts them.
- View your event as a little city. All the things that happen in small cities can happen at your event. People who are attending your event are out of their familiar zones. They will need more information and instruction.
- “See something, say something” is not just a catchy slogan; it requires everyone to be aware. All of us are responsible for contributing to our daily safety.
Almost half of the audience said that in the last five years their organization had faced a situation they believe was mishandled and resulted in harm to the company’s reputation.
Finally, a word on cybersecurity: About half of the attendees felt they understand their organization’s cybersecurity strategy and their role in protecting information and data. Do you know who to call if you detected a cybersecurity breach in your company?
Emergency Preparedness Certificate Program, Association of Destination Management Companies International (ADMEI)
September 2017, Chicago, IL
The program was led a security company expert who led the group through various scenarios and exercises, and included sessions from industry attorneys on various areas of risk. Some tips and take-aways included:
- Partner with hotels instead of relying on them to act in your place.
- Ensure the doors to your event are secured. Make sure everyone wears their name badge, and consider scanning them so you know who is in the room.
- Don’t allow bag check to be in an open space where anyone could potentially leave a bag.
- Have all important contacts, and an electronic attendee list, with you at all times in case you need to communicate to them.
- Because each meeting and destination is different, each event should have its own plan.
- Consider reviewing the exit plan from your meeting rooms and events like the airlines do before a flight.
Meetings Mean Business Coalition Meeting, IMEX America
Las Vegas, NV, October 2017
This was a meeting of the industry’s leading associations, CVBs and companies. The topic of risk management was a top priority. Immediately following the meeting, my industry colleagues and I attended a press conference from the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority to address the shooting that occurred in the city nine days previously. LVCVA President and CEO Rossi Ralenkotter declared his community’s resiliency by stating that one terrible act cannot overshadow the thousands of acts of kindness exhibited by the people of the Las Vegas community.
Events Industry Council Meeting, IMEX America
Las Vegas, NV, October 2017
More than 20 organization executive directors addressed the topic, “What keeps you up at night?” About two-thirds of my colleagues led with safety and security and all agreed it was a top of mind subject.
Unfortunately, there is more “it” happening with increasing frequency, magnitude and consequences. But challenging times bring opportunity. One would be hard pressed to find a business executive who would not accept a meeting request to discuss various ways to make their events safer and more secure.
Meetings professionals in the financial and insurance industry can dramatically enhance the value they bring, both to our industry and to their companies, by sharing their thought leadership, relating their experiences and working with each other to elevate the level of safety and security at their events and to be more prepared than others in their jobs.
FICP can leverage the incredible resources of its membership and tap into this collective expertise to raise the bar and amplify our impact and value to the industries we serve.
Steve Bova, CMP
Executive Director, FICP