Risk management should be at the top of every planning list for meetings. Potential hazards include manmade threats such as terrorism, shootings, protests and cybercrime.

“Natural” occurrences like earthquakes, hurricanes and wildfires are also included.

The following are my top 10 tips to help with risk management preparations.

1. Evaluate the Risks: When selecting a venue, evaluate the risks of each meeting location and activity for potential issues and hazards.

2. Identifying Issues With RFPs: Use the RFP process to identify security issues. Ask for pertinent information, including:

  • Emergency procedures summary.
  • Extra security costs.
  • Ability to keep non-attendees out of meeting areas.
  • Record of recent criminal incidents in and near facility.
  • Cybersecurity measures available to protect attendees and staff from hacking.
  • Firearms policies.

3. Consider Safety Measures: Meetings/events with certain types of activities may require safety measures and additional insurance, including:

  • Athletic events such as “fun runs” and swimming.
  • Events where alcohol will be served.
  • Events featuring cannabis (marijuana), or when the meeting organizer knows that attendees may be using cannabis at meeting-related events, even where legal.
  • Permitting attendees to carry firearms.

4. Perception of Safety Critical: Understand that attendees’ perception of safety may be as important as actual safety, in terms of encouraging meeting attendance.

[Meetings Today 2018 Year in Review: Risk Management]

5. Request Emergency Plans: Ask hotels and venues for their emergency plans and adapt them as appropriate.

6. Create a Security Plan: Create a security plan, including ID verification of attendees and a crisis communications system. Consider hiring security personnel.

7. Allocate Security Responsibilities by Contract: Use meeting contracts to allocate responsibility for risk and possible losses. This should include clearly designating which parties are responsible for each type of security. Execute indemnification (hold harmless) agreements to protect against loss caused by venues and contractors.

[Related Content: Critical Contract Concerns (On Location Video Broadcast)]

8. Protect Computers and Cyberspace: Secure computers by running antivirus software, changing passwords regularly and educating personnel on avoiding “pirate” networks and risky websites/emails.

9. Safeguard Attendees’ Personal Information: Give the personal information of attendees only on a “need-to-know” basis, and then only to persons and businesses that provide demonstrable assurances on protecting data and securing their networks. Ensure GDPR compliance, when required.

10. Insurance Is Essential: The meeting organization, third-party planners, venue and other contractors should all have their own insurance, in sufficient types and amounts.

Joshua L. Grimes, Esq., of Grimes Law Offices, LLC, is a leading attorney in the association, nonprofit, meeting and hospitality industries. He is a specialist in all matters relating to meetings and conventions as well as association and nonprofit governance. Grimes also conducts training on meeting contract negotiations and served on the APEX Contracts Panel. He has also served on the board of directors of the Academy of Hospitality Industry Attorneys.

The information above is for educational purposes only and is not legal advice.

[Additional Resource: Meetings Today teamed up with Brenda Rivers to publish The Meeting & Event Risk Management Guide: How to Develop a Customized Risk Management Playbook].