Reflecting on 9/11: Security and Risk Assessment for Event Planners

This has been a week of reflection. It has been particularly painful for 9/11 survivors and the families of those who lost their lives. As event, meeting and incentive travel planners, what can we take away from 9/11 and other calamities?

About nine months before 9/11, I stayed at one of the hotels that was eventually targeted during the Mumbai attacks. I remember feeling very uncomfortable because the building was tall and narrow and thinking "How would I ever get out if anything happened?" I asked the front desk clerk to put me on one of the lower floors near the stairs. Where did those thoughts come from? There really was no basis for them. Thoughts like that come out of the blue sometimes. When I heard about the Mumbai attacks, a chill went up and down my spine. As event and meeting planners, it is important to listen to our gut feelings, especially when it comes to matters of safety and security.

The night before 9/11, I attended a Toronto International Film Festival party at the restaurant at the top of the Harbour Castle Westin. The next morning I headed downtown to deliver a gift to Tonya Lee Williams (Dr. Olivia, The Young and the Restless) as I had missed her at the party. I returned home when I heard about the attacks and the evacuation of Toronto's downtown business district on the radio. I have avoided parties in tall buildings ever since.

Since 9//11, a flurry of natural disasters and political upheavals have plagued virtually every corner of the globe. These are wake-up calls about the importance of security audits and back-up plans for emergencies, particularly for large events and conferences.

There are companies that specialize in site inspections, security audits and risk assessment for large events, conferences and business meetings. Some are staffed by off-duty law enforcement professionals.

Here are a few examples of companies that provide security audits, risk assessment and emergency preparedness for special events, conferences and large corporate events.

It would be wise for event planners to forge alliances with these and similar organizations before you even need them.

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