John Arentoft is the Head of Security at Swedish security and luxury hotel At Six in Stockholm, Sweden. John previously worked as Security Director at the Swedish Parliament as well as a bodyguard for the Swedish Security Service.
How to Ensure Secure Meetings and Events
Due to recent attacks on public events, it is becoming increasingly important for conferences and events to review their security. As the Head of Security of Swedish security and luxury hotel At Six in Stockholm, I have created six tips on how to achieve more secure public meetings and events.
There is an increased need and demand for security hotels due to the many tragic incidents in the last years. Security issues need to be more prioritized in the hotel and conference industry today. As a meeting place for large groups of people, we must do our utmost to ensure their safety as much as we possibly can.
I have been deeply involved in developing the newly opened At Six into a world-class security hotel. All staff are obliged to undergo thorough security training. At Six is also the only hotel in Sweden to be able to close off an entire floor using only technology.
For everyone to be able to achieve more secure events, conferences and public meetings, I have created following tips:
- Distribute liability
The larger the event is, the greater the risk is of something happening. Appoint a person responsible for the event’s security who also will do a risk assessment of the event and the anticipated guests. This person should also develop a plan for when to modify the event in case something happens - and how.
- Do a mapping
Review the building’s existing evacuation plan and locate all emergency exits. Identify spaces of rooms that can be used by medical professionals for non-acute care. Ensure that all emergency personnel have easy access to the event site and decide where to meet them to escort them to the right place.
Make sure that the staff working with your event have received adequate training and know how to respond in case something happens. Adequately trained staff know how to identify suspicious objects or individuals and how to handle large groups in a crisis situation.
- Have a crisis plan
Draw up a simple emergency plan for how an evacuation would be executed. Make sure that all the staff knows the crisis plan and what to do. The plan should also contain a list of contact information for ambulance, police and fire personnel.
- Prepare your participants
Your participants should be made aware of the security practices before the event, for example by using a page in a welcome package. The participants should be reminded to always protect their valuable items, where emergency exits and assembly sites are located, as well as who to contact if a situation arises.
- Prepare for the unexpected
If a serious situation actually occurs, the staff must be able to handle the situation whenever and wherever it occurs. The crisis plan should be flexible enough to apply to all types of scenarios.
Safety and security can never be fully guaranteed. But if you follow these steps – the same procedure that every security professional would do – you will have done as much as you can to ensure the safety of your guests.