43 Event Security Questions You Should Be Asking

Jill Anonson
Jill Anonson

woman social distancing at airport

A great event means that, from your attendees’ perspective, everything at your event falls into place as if by magic.

Whether virtual, on-location or a hybrid event, there’s plenty of great content and chances to connect. The speakers know just what you want to hear about. And the venue is easy to navigate. The security guards and your IT team monitor the risks both physical and virtual to provide an additional level of safety.

Of course, from an event planner’s point of view, that seamlessness requires an incredible amount of work.

It’s an event planner’s role to make sure everyone’s experience is conducive to learning and enjoying an all-around great event. It’s up to them to ensure all the dominoes fall just as they’re supposed to.

But if just one of those dominoes didn’t fall quite the way you intended, the impact could be catastrophic. Website challenges are one thing—asking your audience for patience while you resolve the issue isn't the end of the world—but an event security slip-up can be incredibly costly to your company and your attendees.

According to a Global Business Travel Association survey, more GBTA member companies are altering their travel policies due to the coronavirus. Over half (55%) report their company has instituted new trip approval procedures, an increase from the 43% who previously reported doing so. In addition, 62% of companies have modified their travel safety and security policies in response to coronavirus. (Only 51% had done so as of the time of the previous poll.).

The current pandemic as well as social and political unrest provides a fitting example of the need for travel risk management. Tensions have been high the last several months, with protests growing in size and scope, temporarily shutting down subway lines, roads and even the international airport.

For the 1.5 billion global participants attending meetings and events, faulty event security is an ever-present concern.

If you’re planning an event, ask yourself these questions to ensure the security of your event attendees, your data and your financial investment is well-kept.

What You Need to Know About Physical Security at Events

  • Prioritization. Are you giving attendee security and safety the same meticulous consideration you give other elements of your event?
  • Interaction between guests. Who is attending your event? Do they attract controversy? How will you manage conflict between guests? How will you eliminate event attendee harassment?
  • Outside intruders. What steps will you take to prevent outside disruptors from gaining access to your event? How will you handle the situation if they do?
  • Medical response. How will you handle event participant medical concerns? Are you aware of local or state regulatory agency policies related to group gatherings to determine if events can be held? Will you advise employees and attendees to stay home and monitor their health if they have had a close contact with a person who has symptoms of COVID-19 within the past 14 days? Will you requite the use of cloth face coverings among staff/attendees? 
  • Destination considerations. Does the venue have any security vulnerabilities (e.g., an outdoor venue is harder to secure but an indoor venue has fewer escape routes.)? Does the location have non-human security threats (e.g., a highway in close proximity, the chance of flood in the area, or wild animals roaming nearby)? Is there anything about your destination that could imperil the health or wellbeing of your people? Is your event near any countries that pose a threat?
  • Contact information. Are you prepared to reach participants’ family members or loved ones if anything happens?

Related: 9 Event Tips to Keep Your Guests Safe

What You Need to Know About Information Security at Events

  • Data collection and encryption. Are you aware of and comfortable with the data targeted for collection? How about the way it is collected and how it will be used? How will data be encrypted when stored and in transit?
  • Network security. Do you have a VPN? Will staff and attendees use different networks? Are anti-virus and anti-malware software running and up to date on your laptops and mobile devices? Is your wi-fi service password protected?
  • Physical access. Will you use security measures such as ID badging to prevent unauthorized people from entering?
  • Third-party security. Are your technology suppliers using third-party services to collect attendee information? What are those companies’ security measures?
  • Confidential data. Are you restricting confidential data to the people who need to see it? How are you destroying or disposing of sensitive information at the end of the event?
  • Social media. Do you have social media policies in place? Are they appropriate and applicable to your event?
  • Virtual events. Are you using a secure platform? Are you only collecting relevant information from attendees? Are you implementing website encryption so that information submitted to your site/app is only readable by you?

Related: Ensuring Event, Incentive and Recognition Program Data Security

What You Need to Know About Financial Security at Events

  • Rates, deposits and payment schedules. What’s the contracted attrition rate of your event? Have good faith deposit amounts and a reasonable deposit schedule been negotiated?
  • Cancellation and force majeure. How are cancellation terms being handled? Are force majeure (unforeseen circumstances that impact the ability to fulfill a contract) up to date with regard to threats to global health and well-being?
  • Confidentiality. What confidentiality protections do you require? What confidentiality protections do your guests require?
  • Insurance. Do your hotelier and third-party suppliers have adequate insurance? How will you obtain and manage your partners’ insurance certification?
  • Legal liability and dispute resolution. Are mutual indemnification and hold-harmless terms part of your agreement? How will you resolve potential disputes?

For travel and event professionals, the political, economic and environmental landscape continues to create unforeseeable new global risk(s). 

But that risk can be successfully mitigated, and the ability to design and deliver once-in-a-lifetime experiences in all corners of the world is a reality with a comprehensive, flexible approach.

For more information about risk management, download our travel and event risk management resource, Ensuring Safe & Secure Experiences.

travel risk management ebook

Jill Anonson

Jill Anonson

Jill Anonson has over 20 years of diverse experience in event management, incentive travel and sales strategy, and serves as the Events Strategy Advisor at ITA Group. Focused on continuous improvement and challenging standards, she consults clients and team members with impactful strategies and innovative ideas that deliver successful business outcomes. She is a Certified Engagement Practitioner, and certified through Pragmatic Marketing.