Post-financial crisis has seen many companies and sponsors return to the international events scene with renewed enthusiasm, evident by increased volume, along with a whole new generation of offerings from providers in the sector. However, despite many internal, mature risk management processes, the majority of international events still continue to present an Achilles heel when it comes to business travel health, safety and security.
Too many planners leap to an ideal location and then attempt to force all the solutions and planning solutions around this ideal destination. The best location must meet the requirements for an enjoyable, successful and functional site for all the planned activities but also provide for all the support needs such as routine medical, reliable transport, secure locations and safe environments. Any location that fails these initial criteria will only amplify any emergency situation and likely result in a higher overall risk to all involved.
While the initial location is important, it is just as important to evaluate all the activities needed for the event and identify any and all social activities that will take place in conjunction with the event.
Corporate meetings, incentives, conferences, and events can be high activity situations with lots of people coming and going along with information sharing and enjoyment opportunities. Therefore all proposed and possible activities must be considered and included in the final plan. This should include everything from arrivals, reception; check in, conference events, networking, social/entertainment, sightseeing, ground transport, shopping, internal travel and departures.
It is paramount that all activities available be considered in the chosen location, not just those provided on the official program as attendees or accompanying partners/families always seek out alternate options, with a high potential for emergency situations outside the traditional plans.
Emergency Planning First
This may seem counter intuitive but in my experience it is the far superior approach. With a set location and a list of activities you can now start to create broad and detailed emergency planning sessions. The reason this is a better approach is that you do not want to discover areas that require minor or major treatment solutions late in the budget, promotion, and management or confirmation cycles. For example, if you discovered that the local medical services were routinely overwhelmed on a weekend due to peak tourist activity in your chosen location, you would need to either reconsider the location as a plausible option or include onsite medical support as part of your budget and risk mitigation solution. Especially when you consider in your planning the impact and support demands should you have a group emergency such as food poisoning or the collapse of a viewers stand.
Timings, resources, weather, personnel and services are all likely to alter in some shape or form prior to or during your ideal plan. Clearly defined information requirements, lines of communication, prioritization of response and follow up procedures need to be in place and communicated to those affected or influential to the process. This should be supported with an appropriate vehicle in which to share information such as email, SMS, radios, blogs, bulletin boards and so on.
The more information you collect, the more you have to process but the better informed you will be when making routine and emergency decisions.
Information, Information and more information
Plan to capture and access as much information as possible when managing successful corporate events. Too few planners and event managers appreciate or successfully capture and process routine information that could dramatically improve the efficiency and productivity of an event but also prove pivotal to emergency situations.
Consider well in advance how to store and access information.
With all the preparation and information activity up to this point, it remains illogical why so much of it is then not shared with attendees and planners. A centralized body of knowledge in which elements can be extracted to provide and prepare attendees is neither difficult nor indulgent.
Group pre-arrival guides, information and key updates should be delivered in a “readable” or “digestible” format to all those likely to attend and support the event. This channel and focus group should be regularly updated with the most salient points regularly until the completion of the event.
Event planners and managers are almost spoilt by choice with the various means and mediums for communications. The consolidation and consistency of message is the challenge, along with ensuring segmentation of both content and receiver. Facebook, YouTube, SMS, email, blog, website and numerous other social media platforms are all viable means for two-way communication. Planners should have already identified in their emergency planning what local options, limitations or nuances prevail and the best or most reliable for the task.
It is not the plans that are important, it is the planning. Continued management and monitoring is a close second. All events, locations and activities require care and management to ensure they go as close as can be reasonably expected to plan.
Continued management is a team event and not solely dependent upon one or two individuals. Succession planning and redundancies should have been identified in the emergency-planning phase to prevent the vulnerability presented when one or two key people are unavailable momentarily or for extended periods.
Each stage, action and even event should be reviewed and analyzed for opportunities to improve the process or identify overlooked aspects.
When it comes to international corporate events, meetings, incentives, conferences and gatherings, these are the key health, safety and security points that every planner needs to know to ensure a successful, safe and secure event. You now have the most important safety and security planning tips starting with location, activities, emergency planning, monitoring and communications. Use this as a reference and checklist to ensure you have an evaluation criteria and consistent, safe approach to ensure all your international corporate events run smoothly and prevent the majority of avoidable incidents that ruin otherwise great gatherings and corporate events.