Securing Your Next Big Meeting or Conference: 5 Tips on Event & Site Security

Securing Your Next Big Meeting or Conference: 5 Tips on Event & Site Security

1428Executive Summary: Event Security and Site Protection

Conferences, meetings, and tradeshows can be a great way for organizations to showcase themselves to the public, discuss important issues, and boost employee morale. However, high profile events can present operational and reputational risks if they are not conducted effectively. Security issues, in particular, can hamper operations and raise challenges to event organizers. If not handled deftly, these issues could lead to incidents that prove both embarrassing and costly to the hosting company.

To ensure the seamless integration of security into an event’s operations, the security professionals at IMG believe that security personnel should be involved in event planning from Day 1. By including security personnel during the preliminary stages, event planners will ensure that security is incorporated into planning at every stage of the process. This will help avoid unforeseen complications and last minute alterations.

Event security planning can be an involved and complicated process, and some outsiders may underestimate the challenges involved. Additionally, some may question why security personnel need to be included in so many aspects of event planning from venue selection, to guest lists, to hotel booking. To provide more clarification on security’s role in event planning, IMG ( has released 5 tips on event security and site protection. This information should provide non-security personnel with an overview of event security planning.

5 Tips on Meeting Security and Site Protection from a Leading Executive Protection Firm

Event Security Tip #1: Venue Selection

One of the most important tenets of meeting and conference security is the involvement of security personnel from the start of the event planning process. This is especially true when it comes time for an organization to select a venue. Prior to site selection, security personnel need to conduct a threat assessment of the proposed site to identify potential threats, challenges, and risks. Involvement at the early stages also gives security personnel an opportunity to familiarize themselves with the site and identify any resources, such as floor space or rooms, that will need to be reserved for security purposes.

Event Security Tip #2: Proprietary Information Planning

Another core tenet of conference and meeting security is the identification of sensitive or proprietary information that will be disclosed during the course of the event. For example, some conferences are used to unveil new technology or discuss corporate strategy while some company meetings may involve sensitive issues such as layoffs and acquisitions. In each of these cases, organizations need to think hard about how they want this information disseminated and whom they want to disseminate this information to. Once this determination is made, security personnel can construct plans to protect this data. Additionally, they will be able to provide guidance on the transportation and storage of sensitive materials and designate secure meeting areas for sensitive discussions.

Event Security Tip #3: Access Controls

Another fundamental component of site protection is the development of access controls. At the site itself, security will control physical access by designating points of entry/exit and manning these points appropriately. However, security should also be involved in the formulation of the guest list and the selection of invitations and ID badges. This will allow security personnel to prevent unauthorized access and help identify any event “crashers.” It is also important to note that guests may have different levels of access based on their relationship to the hosting organization. For example, the Media may be given one level of access, company employees given another, while company executives may be given more wide-ranging access. Security will help ensure that guests are given the appropriate level of access and may compartmentalize the area according to access level.

Event Security Tip #4: Transportation, Logistics, and Emergency Planning

It is important to note that comprehensive conference security is not limited to the event site itself. Security personnel should be involved in coordinating transportation to and from the venue. They also may choose to conduct threat assessments on the hotels being used by attendees. Additionally, security may determine if VIPs require special vehicle access or foot escort. This is because VIPs are often at there most vulnerable when traveling to and from a well-publicized event. Finally, the security staff will develop contingency and emergency plans. This often involves identifying the police, fire, rescue, and medical resources in the area so that they may be quickly called upon in the event of an emergency.

Event Security Tip #5: After-Action Reviews

One of the most important, but often overlooked, components of conference security and site protection is the after action review. These reviews are held after the completion of a conference, meeting, or event and should be attended by all of the event organizers. One of the major benefits of these reviews is that they can be used to discuss challenges and target areas for future improvement. Furthermore, these reviews can also be used to assess the impact of possible security breaches. For example, during an after action review event organizers may report incidents such as suspicious behavior, the loss of sensitive material, or access to an unauthorized area. During the review, these issues can be fleshed out in detail as a group and follow on plans developed.

Originally published on Wednesday, 23 July 2014
1342 views at time of republishing

Chris Hagon

Christopher Hagon was a member of London's Metropolitan Police for 21 years. Eleven years of his service were spent in Scotland Yard's Royalty & Diplomatic Protection Department (RDPD), where he was for nine years the personal protection officer to Prince Philip. Hagon also performed protection duty for other members of the Royal Family and later was appointed as the personal protection officer to Her Majesty, Queen Elizabeth II. In 1984, Hagon retired in the rank of Superintendent. In the U.S., Hagon joined a prestigious international security consultancy providing services to more than half the Fortune 500 companies. As Director, Executive Protection, Hagon dealt with terrorist-related incidents - bombings, assassination threats and others - encountered by major U.S. defense contractors and pharmaceuticals, and also product-contamination and kidnap-ransom cases. In 1988, Hagon joined Miami-based Ryder System, Inc., the world's largest full-service lease and transportation company as Director of Corporate Security and was responsible for many innovative and proactive programs designed to protect Ryder's 46,000 personnel and assets. Hagon has lectured widely on the topics of workplace violence, crisis management, crime avoidance and personal protection with emphasis on the nuances and practicalities of the corporate response. Audiences have included corporate human resource and legal groups, directors and managers of security, chambers of commerce and the American Society for Industrial Security (ASIS).

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