Event Security 2.0

Over the past few weeks I have come across several articles and tweets focused on heightened security measures for trade shows and corporate events hosted abroad.  They outline everything from the need for extensive security briefings with top executives, to restricting communications to new, encrypted laptops, to having a plan for kidnappings.  While all this may seem like the stuff of Hollywood blockbusters, clearly the threats are real, and I appreciate the cautionary advice.  But it got me thinking about our relative lack of vigilance concerning security for off-site meetings and events held closer to home.

Most of us have seen the standard employee orientation videos on security. We know what to do (or more to the point, what not to do) in our offices, our local coffee shops and in airports, so as to ensure our company data and systems are protected at all times.  We are trained not to leave computers, smart phones, or confidential documents unattended or in the open.  So why is it that we seem to toss these best practices out the window when we are on-site at events?

Taking the Necessary Security Steps

Increased precautions for cyber security and traditional event security should be top of mind among event planners, regardless of the meeting destination.  These five relatively simple tips can go a long way towards helping you secure your company information – and peace of mind.

  1. Secure all equipment and meeting spaces. Make sure laptops, iPads and smart phones are password protected and on your person whenever possible; and always use a cable lock to secure laptops. To mitigate theft, hire 24/7 security personnel to monitor all critical meeting rooms. At even the finest hotels, we have experienced first-hand, laptops being stolen from crowded ballrooms, and from briefcases stored in locked staff offices. That’s why we travel with spare cable locks for our clients.
  2. Don’t toss it. Shred it. Destroy all printed material of a sensitive nature, including company email communications, executive travel itineraries and PowerPoint decks. Do not leave confidential information laying around your executive war room, staff office, the ballroom, or even your hotel room. My company routinely rents or purchases shredders for the ballroom. At the end of each day, any confidential information not held on our person is destroyed. We leave nothing behind for the overnight cleaning crew.
  3. Take a pass on the free WiFi. Public hotel WiFi is not always 100% secure. Even worse, according to Corporate Travel Safety, what might appear to be a valid WiFi hotspot address, could actually be a phony one created by hackers trolling for your personal information while camping out in the hotel lobby or nearby parking lot. To be safe, ask the venue for their official address, and always use designated, encrypted WiFi. No exceptions.
  4. Is this mic on? Wireless microphone frequencies can be picked up well beyond the ballroom, and while you never know who might be listening in, you should always assume the worst. Coach your executives on being mindful about what they say when they are mic’d up – be it in the ballroom, backstage in the green room, and yes, even the restroom.
  5. NDAs for all. Don’t get me wrong: I trust our crews implicitly, and I love that our clients trust my company and our people. Even so, I am surprised by how few clients require event production staff to sign non-disclosure agreements. After all, we do see and hear it all, including company financials, new product information and go-to-market strategies. Supply your production company with a simple one-page NDA, and task them with gathering all the necessary signatures on-site.

At Impact Productions, we have always encouraged clients to treat their event space as their temporary corporate headquarters when it comes to branding the live environment. Today, that same advice holds equally true for matters of corporate security.

Does your company have a formal security policy for corporate meetings and events? What do you perceive to be the greatest threats to your company while hosting or attending off-site meetings?