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Venues called on to take more ‘security responsibility’

Enhanced surveillance among steps taken by NH Hotels, MPI EMEC security and safety debate is told

Pictured: Carole McKellar chaired the MPI EMEC safety and security debate

An increased focus on surveillance and extra security measures have been adopted by hotels in London following terror attacks last year in Paris.

The NH Hotel group, which owns the Hotel NH London Kensington, has put in place enhanced security in the wake of November’s Paris attacks which left 130 people dead. 

Delegates at this week’s Meeting Professionals International (MPI) European Meetings & Events Conference (EMEC) in Copenhagen debated security risk assessment and event attendee safety concerns. And it was claimed that while event planners should have action plans and well researched risk management strategy, the onus falls on the host venue to reassure organisers and delegates. 

Gavin Tyzack, commercial director, large events at NH Hotel Group revealed security measures had been reassessed in London, but said it was important not to scare potential event attendees. 

“We should be working together to minimise the impact of concerns surrounding terrorism, we need to be better educated,” he said. “Take steps to make people aware, but not in a way that says ‘bring a bomb-proof jacket with you’. It is not easy to find the balance between the two and I believe hotels are behind the curve. Will they ever be in front of it? That’s a difficult question.

“Take every available precaution as a venue, and that should be written into contracts – although there has to be some leeway with corporates.”

The responsibility for reassurance falls squarely on conference and meeting venues, argued Joas Kemerink, business development manager of Amsterdam’s RAI. He pointed to a number of large-scale conferences relocating to northern Europe due to safety concerns in destinations such as Turkey.

He added: “I strongly believe it’s the responsibility of the host venue or hotel. We all know something is going to happen, it’s the impact and how you deal with it.

“Speaking about prevention is fine, but that’s useless when you have nothing beyond it.”

Effective and clear communication, good data management and risk analysis were identified during the debate as crucial elements of a risk management strategy. 

Carole McKellar, Northern Europe MD of HelmsBriscoe, chaired the debate and reminded attendees there is an inherent risk attached to international travel. 

“You have a group of people who will never travel, and that’s a personal decision. Then there are people who will always travel no matter what,” she said. “As we get more used to this environment, people will get stronger about saying ‘I’m going to carry on doing this’. There will always be a risk; we need to think about how we manage that risk and its impact.

“There is a lot we can learn from the leisure market and large events, and how to scale that down. There are experts out there, do not think you have to do this (security risk assessment) all on your own.”

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