Many times, ‘Event Security’ neither receives the attention, nor budget spend, that it deserves. An event, such as a user conference, may have its attendees, customers, and sponsors join the host company for multiple days. Quite often, security is limited to ‘badge checkers’ stationed at the entrance to the expo floor and rooms that house keynotes, breakout sessions, training, and alike during event hours. The primary role of these individuals is to ensure that only those who have a conference pass can attend the event and/or specific aspects of it as indicated on their badges. It is far too common that checking badges is what is considered ‘event security’, especially for inaugural or small events.
When planning an event and its corresponding budget, it is essential that security, from the point of view of protection, security, and safety, is considered. The potential need to have security personnel from the venue or an outside firm present begins prior the opening of registration and may be present until the host company departs. Pre-event security may be called for to:
- Monitor/secure incoming & outgoing shipments and storage areas
- Control access to expo hall, keynote, breakout session rooms, and alike
- Guard all areas overnight
- Depending on the keynotes, executives, speakers, and entertainment, ‘sweeps’ of all rooms and common areas may be a necessity; may also have to be coordinated with their own security personnel
Unfortunately, with ever tightening budgets, event security is often reduced to a minimum. One aspect we find that is often eliminated or overlooked, is the need for security during the event when the expo hall doors close. Just because a door is locked and/or venue staff is in does not guarantee both the host and sponsors items are secure. Booths typically have a good amount of expensive electronics, giveaways, and prizes – items that are prone to “walk away”. The theft of a laptop, for example, could mean the loss of a speaker or partners presentation; a high-end booth raffle item that “disappears” not only negatively impacts a sponsor’s experience, but that of the winning attendee who now experiences a loss. Not only can the cost to replace one stolen item exceed what additional security would have, the blame of theft often falls on the host company when security is not present.
The bottom line is that when there is a theft issue that could have been prevented by having security present, the entirety of the event feels a lack of safety. News spreads and the “rumor mill” fans the flames resulting in attendees, sponsors, and host attendees worrying about how safe their irreplaceable items are at your event. Ensuring sufficient event security is included in your budget may save you money and your reputation in the long-run.