The Unseen Aspect of Event Planning: Safety and Preparedness 

In the world of event planning, where every detail matters and the unexpected is just around the corner, the importance of safety and emergency preparedness cannot be overstated. It’s a realm where the adage “hope for the best but prepare for the worst” takes on real significance. Drawing parallels from a recent flight experience, Robert from Roberts Events Group, a Hosts Global Member, delves into the critical role of safety planning in the events industry. Through his narrative, we explore how the principles of anticipation and preparedness in aviation can be a beacon for meeting, event, and incentive planners aiming to ensure the safety and satisfaction of their attendees. 

Crafting Safety in the Skies: A Lesson for Event Planners with Robert Carachilo

During a recent flight, I purposely selected to sit in the emergency exit row, primarily to gain additional leg room.   That decision included the acknowledgement of taking on a role in the event of a flight emergency. 

That same flight, we experienced the inconvenience of a winter storm.  Prior to take off, the plane needed to d-ice.    This, along with other challenges, caused a two-hour delay.    As all the crew and passengers were ready for takeoff, an announcement came over the speaker system.   Due to the pilots “Timing Out”, (the pilots exceeded their flight hours), a new crew was needed before we were going to get back in the air.   Apologies for the inconvenience followed. 

A big inconvenience for all involved but it was a necessity to keep with a protocol for everyone’s safety.   That experience, both my decision to sit where I did and the delayed flight, led me to think of the importance of such systems, and how, as event planners, we prepare. 

The thought of a safety situation or emergency occurring isn’t “if”, but “when”.   If you’ve been in the hospitality industry, even for a short time, you’ve certainly experienced an occurrence that resulting in having to turn to an alternative plan. 

As planners, understanding the types of potential emergency situations will assist in your safety planning.   These can range from medical, and natural instances to technical / infrastructure and man-made.  Identifying these risks is the first step in creating an emergency plan. 

Weather related emergencies require continuous monitoring and backup plans.  Depending on the type of weather event, extreme weather conditions or natural disaster, planning may result in adjusting timing, finding alternative event space, having shelter for attendees, or making the decision to cancel.  Planning for such situations will be dependent on your region. 

Medical emergencies are a concern at events and having trained medical personnel available at events would be comforting, but that isn’t always the case.  Sudden injury or illness if not addressed appropriately could lead to an emergency.  Having protocols in place aid staff and event partners in making good decisions.  A good rule of thumb is to dial “911”. 

Technical / infrastructure issues bring with them a variety of challenges.   Power outages can disrupt an event and compromise safety.  Structural issues within an event space or nearby may compromise safety or require alternative plans to go into effect such as a portion of a major city highway collapsing or a train derailment; both which occurred in the city I work in. 

Man made emergency have become too frequent and are an unfortunate part of safety and emergency planning.   Data breaches, demonstrations, civil unrest, overcrowding, stampedes and terrorism fall within this category.    

Comprehensive communication is key in safety planning.   Establishing clear communication channels among staff, attendees and emergency services is fundamental.   This includes having a designated meeting point, efficient communications systems and ensuring that all participants and staff are aware of emergency procedures.  


The Blueprint for Safety: Communication, Training, and Collaboration

As planners, safety planning is another important part in the planning process.   The level of responsibility will depend on your role.     Fortunately, there are tools to assist.    As DMC’s, ADMEI, (Association of Destination Management Executives International), offer its members certificate training in safety planning.    There are also opportunities for training by Texas A&M, “TEEX”, National Emergency Response and Recovery Training. 

Collaboration is another tool to be used in safety planning.  Depending on the event, involving key stakeholders in the conversation of safety only aids in the steps that are taken when an incident occurs. 

Once the various types of emergencies that may occur are determined and protocols and a communications plan has been formed, engaging team members in “Tabletop Exercises” strengthens preparedness.    Running through scenarios such as a vehicle accident during a tour, weather causing major flight delays, power outages within a hotel during a meeting or civil disturbance, will aid in you and your team’s decision making.  

Having safety plan reviews and implementing tabletop exercises, as well as discussing with your team real life experiences, all become an opportunity to evaluate, educate and improve on your planning.     

In conclusion, the safety measures put in place act as an aid.  During my time in the event industry, I’ve experienced the majority of what has been mentioned.   Having safety plans in place and simulating situations via tabletop exercised along with classes taken, have aided in planning and reacting to emergencies.   Hopefully, this article provides you with the thought of, “What If” and “How will I respond if”.   

As for my flight, it did finally take off and although it didn’t’ arrive at the time planned, it did arrive safely at its destination. 

Plan boldly & brilliantly

Get future event planning ideas and insight delivered right to your inbox.