By Cindy Hayes, CMP, DMCP, Director of Sales, AlliedPRA New Orleans
Lately, a lot of our clients have been asking about safety, security and emergency preparedness. Certainly the events in Europe over the last year – crowds of people – so called “soft targets” – being attacked is playing into this. After all, every group event in the DMC world is a crowd of people in an unfamiliar place. Your best DMC’s have a detailed plan to ensure your group’s safety while producing an event that doesn’t compromise hitting your objectives: celebration, education, inspiration or otherwise.
With more than 30 years in the New Orleans hospitality industry, my approach to security at events stems from what I learned when I was on the management team of the Hyatt Regency New Orleans during major sporting events such as Super Bowls, NCAA Final Fours, and a hotel filled with over 1,000 guests and employees during Hurricane Katrina. Sharing these experiences with my clients and having open dialogue about the value of security is common as we evaluate risk factors together.
While advance warning often comes with weather related risks, the same principles can be applied to the security of any event with the threats we face today and situations that change at a minute’s notice. Training staff, understanding a venue or hotel Emergency Preparedness Plan, identifying all egresses, having key contact information at your fingertips with a backup communication plan if phones are down, prioritizing and identifying the communication chain, and understanding the integration of the local police department, state police, and Homeland Security are key elements to mitigating risk and the safety of guests. The plan must be amended based on the profile of the event and guests, the venue or hotel, and transportation if shuttles are involved.
Client concerns about security need to be addressed up front and the level of expertise of the DMC’s approach to risk management regardless of the size of the event is critical. What training has your selected DMC had? Having an action plan to address what might happen given today’s environment is vital to the safety of guests and the reason we have an Emergency Preparedness Plan in place at AlliedPRA. At AlliedPRA New Orleans, we take our training seriously. Our Emergency Preparedness Plan is 56 pages long, so I won’t go into the detail of it, and I don’t expect clients to. What I do expect is that our clients will take trust in that we have a detailed plan, have ingrained it into our everyday operations, and ensured our suppliers and ground staff all embrace the relevant parts of it to each unique program. At AlliedPRA New Orleans, we take every opportunity to ensure we are incorporating industry best practices, and even come up with some of our own. That is why when ADMEI recently unveiled a new Emergency Preparedness Certification, Sarah Howard, our Senior Event Producer, was in the first class to be certified.
If you ask me what’s most important about security and risk management, I would tell you having a plan is most important, but communication, keeping a level head and your ability to think on your feet will determine the outcome. If you are looking for training, check with your local industry organization chapters. This is such a hot topic today, and many chapters offer continuing education credits in this subject matter.
For more information, please visit www.nolameetings.com
Cindy Hayes, CMP, DMCP
AlliedPRA New Orleans