Emergency Preparedness: Are YOU Prepared?

Our event world is not the same today as it was yesterday and continues to change. Security and risk management are certainly topics on the forefront of many clients’ minds opposed to five years ago as they select a destination and their DMC partner. Neither can be taken lightly. When it comes to the role of risk management and security and choosing your DMC partner, it is important to understand your partner’s level of experience through real life situations.

Client concerns about security must 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. 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. With more than 30 years in the New Orleans hospitality industry, my approach to security at events stems comes 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 hurricanes come with advance warning and time to prepare, 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.

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.

Thanks to Jeff O’Hara, AlliedPRA New Orleans. This article was featured in Special Events magazine.