Security is something that is often overlooked when it comes to corporate events. Who’s responsible for ensuring only invited guests are allowed in? Andy Barr, Director of Event Connections discusses his experiences and gives some advice for PAs
A few months ago, I was attending a meeting at one of our clients’ offices. As a large corporate organisation, their London HQ is somewhat overwhelming. I was greeted by impeccably presented receptionists who smiled broadly from behind their massive desk. And then, it all went horribly wrong.
Despite arranging the meeting with my contact a week or two earlier, my name had not been added to the cleared security list and so I was not allowed access to the building. Hushed conversations and phone calls ensued until eventually my contact burst into the reception area and vouched for me. Only then was I given accreditation and allowed into the building. The security guards slid back into their default positions and awaited their next moment of excitement.
Wind forward two weeks and I popped in to visit the same client at an event they were hosting on Park Lane. It was a significant evening reception, with all their senior staff present and hundreds of clients and contacts attending. Despite the numerous security guards present, I found that I could breeze straight into the heart of the event with little more than a suit and a smile.
Why would a company that spends significant sums restricting access to its office throw all that good practice out of the window when holding events and conferences? Especially when some of the most significant individuals in the company are there, all in the same place at the same time?
Having worked at so many different events, we really have seen it all; the journalist trying to sneak a look at quarterly results, a competitor hoping to hear about a new strategy or product, and of course people who just want a few drinks on your tab. Although, keeping your event secure is only one side of the coin. The flip side is that for those who should be there, registration, badging and entry should be efficient and pain-free.
Many events still print out badges in advance and lay them out on the table – allowing everyone to walk in, collect their badge and head into the event. While that is easy to manage for very small events where you might recognise everyone, as the numbers rise it becomes more difficult and much more susceptible to abuse. If a badge gains access and anyone can pick up a badge, then how do you really know who is there?
There are a variety of ways to redress this imbalance by using in-house resources, external contractors, or a blend of the two. At Event Connections, for example, we have tailored many of our event registration solutions to ensure enhanced security and accreditation at events. As well as providing a high-quality, high-speed registration and badging service, we work with in-house security teams to ensure that corporate accreditation policies are applied to off-site activities.
For some organisations, showing a company security pass is sufficient proof of identity. For others, full photo ID may be required. Whatever the protocols, we integrate them into our workflow so that it is straightforward for attendees but you have a robust entry criteria and full reporting on who came and when. Our live stats also mean that you have instant access to attendee data and nifty features like a black list can prevent people with key words in their data from registering at all.
It pays to take time to consider the security at your offsite activities and then maybe next time someone tries to wander into your event, you will have something in place to stop them.
Andy is Director of Event Connections, a premier event registration and delegate management service provider with over 10 years’ experience in events, conferences and exhibitions. Event Connections has an extensive portfolio of corporate projects, including British Airways, Unilever, Samsung, Chelsea FC and Societe Generale. To find out more visit event-connections.co.uk. Twitter: @EvntConnections