Safety first for association meetings

The World PCO Alliance shares some pointers on how to implement a risk mitigation policy for association meetings and put stakeholders’ mind at ease

When it comes to conferences and other events, association executives and meeting planners are adept at taking care of the essentials – registration, exhibition, sponsorship and catering, just to mention a few – but many continue to undermine the importance of having a risk mitigation policy that will protect the event and its stakeholders from potential threats such as civil unrest, terrorism and disease.

Rather than adopt a “we’ll-deal-with-it-when-we-have-to” attitude, associations and their event organisers should establish a security policy right from the start. Such a policy must be clear, easy to follow and, when applied properly, gives everyone peace of mind.

So, how does one go about preparing such a security policy? Fortunately, the task is not as difficult as it sounds.

A sound security policy should include the following:

  • A formal event risk assessment. Association executives and meeting planners need to begin with an analysis of every possible risk that could affect their conference or congress
  • A customised crisis plan that considers event partners such as the destination and venues used for activities

Now that the risks are determined, it’s time to draw up the plan. The key here is to incorporate all key partners and to consider the role each party would play in face of a risk.

We suggest the following steps:

  • Discuss and secure the most appropriate insurance policies. Associations need to do their homework to make sure they’re properly covered
  • Determine whether private security is necessary and if so, undertake the task of engaging such personnel
  • Ensure that all staff assigned to the event are adequately trained in spotting, averting and/or managing security risks as they present themselves
  • Have in place special measures for high-ranking government officials or Heads of State in attendance, taking into consideration coordination of airport/transportation arrangements and on-site security screenings
  • Establish a venue safety and emergency procedure that includes key information such as the location of emergency exits
  • Issue an official statement (if necessary) to attendees leading up to the event, listing the security guidelines/emergency procedures to follow on-site during the event
  • Prepare a post-mortem report that will be forwarded to the next edition of the event

By thinking ahead and establishing a general security policy for their events, associations are sure to give their gatherings optimal protection.


The members of the World PCO Alliance have established the “Alliance’s Duty of Care Commitment” (, a security policy that each member carries out with its clients. Founded in 2009, the World PCO Alliance provides leadership in meeting management through the delivery of streamlined and effective meetings around the globe. The organisation is comprised of 20 chosen, quality PCOs in the meetings industry from around the world. Visit