July 14, 2017

Planning to feature a VIP keynote speaker? Follow these steps to ensure their comfort and safety.

Featuring a famous name as an event keynote speaker raises the visibility and interest in your event and boosts attendance. However, the benefits of hosting a big name also require extra attention to the safety and well-being of both the VIP and your attendees. Shiloh’s event management team recently helped a client host Condoleezza Rice for a San Francisco Bay Area event.  Here are some of the most important steps our team took to prepare for Rice’s appearance.

1. Scope out entrance and exit routes

Will your VIP arrive through a high-profile red carpet entrance or do they want to slip in a private back door? Either way requires a carefully planned route with protections that shield the VIP from unwanted access. Preplan the route your VIP will take from drop off/pick-up point to green room to stage and any other spaces they’ll need to access (including a restroom).  Identify where signage will be needed to inform others of restricted access areas and when/where security personnel will need to be stationed. Finally, have backup routes to enter/exit a venue should any problems arise.

2. Select and outfit a green room

Your VIP needs a place to relax while waiting to take the stage and in between appearances. Typically this space is removed from the stage providing your guest with privacy, comfort and security. A properly outfitted green room offers comfortable seating, workspace, food and beverage as well as restroom access to your guest. You’ll want to find out the personal preferences of your VIP and plan accordingly.

3. Coordinate adequate event security staff

Some VIP’s travel with their own security entourage, others will rely on the event staff to handle any potential disturbance. Your VIP’s manager can give details of the number and type of security personnel the individual will bring with them to an event. You’ll need adequate staff to ensure entrance and exit points to the VIP’s location are secured in a way that they are comfortable.

4. Establish protocol for managing a disturbance

Most VIP events go off without interruption, but publicizing the appearance of a high-profile speaker mandates having a risk management plan to handle disturbance should one arise. Shiloh put in place a three-tiered protocol of soft to forceful tactics to manage any potential disruption during Rice’s speech.

  • Tier 1: Usher approaches and privately requests disruptive element to desist.
  • Tier 2: An authority figure takes stage and requests that disruptive element leave.
  • Tier 3: If disruption persists, security staff removes.

5. Secure meet-and-greet and photo opportunities

No VIP appearance is complete without a meet & greet / photo opportunity for a select group of your most important attendees. Pick a comfortable and secure location away from the main  group of attendees. Prescreen each guest you intend to invite to a private meeting to ensure they pose no security threat to your VIP. Procedure for this clearance will vary so be sure to discuss your VIP’s required process. Provide the select group with a unique access pass to the VIP area and require this pass be displayed to gain entrance.

6. Inform local law enforcement

Notify the local police of your VIP’s planned appearance. They can help identify any local person or group that might cause a problem, and will keep you informed of any potential threats such as a planned demonstration. Local police will also assist with crowd control if needed. Even if you don’t think a VIP’s appearance is likely to cause a disturbance, best practices dictate that you let local police know of a dignitary’s presence in their jurisdiction.

7. Coordinate all plans with the VIP’s Team

Finally, remember to maintain clear and open communication with the VIP’s team. You’ll be working closely with a personal manager or other coordinator who knows the VIP’s needs and preferences. Carefully talk over plans with this individual to align with the expectations, needs and preferences of the VIP.

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