Meeting and event risk assessment starts with the inspection and selection of destinations and facilities. For further reference, the free, on-demand version of my “Averting Disaster: How Planners Prepare for Contingencies” webinar.

  1. Subscribe to electronic versions of local news and business sources for destinations you’re considering. Pay attention to street crime, infrastructure (sinkholes, power and water outages) and medical/emergency services.
  2. Ask the DMO (destination marketing organization, aka CVB) and local emergency and law enforcement personnel for specifics of what’s happened in the area and their responses.*
  3. Meet with local officials to learn about the city-county-state-surrounding states-federal coordination for emergencies and how and when they’ve conducted drills, and the results of those drills.*
  4. Ask local officials, the DMO and emergency and law enforcement personnel for examples of the “worst thing” that has happened in that destination, how they responded, and what procedures were subsequently put in place.*
  5. At each facility (hotel, convention center, conference center, restaurant, off-site venue like a museum) schedule at least 30 minutes (preferably more time) with its emergency response team to learn its procedures.
  6. Inspect thoroughly! Among a lengthy checklist of items, look at entrances, exits and access, food and beverage preparation and serving safety procedures, guest room access to emergency exits and information in rooms to explain procedures. Look for AEDs (automated external defibrillators) and ensure they exist on-property.
  7. Determine if venue safety personnel are full-time and employed by the venue or outsourced, and to whom.
  8. Ask how all venue personnel are trained, and in what aspects of safety and security.

* If anyone along the way says “nothing bad has ever happened here,” consider asking deeper questions or going elsewhere!

Joan Eisenstodt is chief strategist at Washington, D.C.-based Joan Eisenstodt Associates LLC, and a veteran meetings industry consultant, educator and speaker.