The needs of performers, worse-for-wear teenagers, mile-long queues of traffic, high-tech equipment: they all need looking after at a festival. It’s an understatement to say ensuring everyone’s safety at a festival poses lots of challenges – and the last couple of decades has seen the development of event security solutions to directly meet those challenges. It’s no coincidence that the same time, festivals have become much safer – and popular places.
Very few of us will ever have to organize a spectacle of Woodstock proportions – but lots of us will have an event of some form or other to take care of. Looking at how festival organisers approach things can give us some useful pointers for our own events.
Security shouldn’t be an afterthought
Festivals have grown up in recent years – in more ways than one. It’s not unusual to see septuagenarians headlining main stages – and recent research shows the average age of a festivalgoer is now mid-thirties. Something else has come of age as well: organisers’ attitude to safety. On one occasion back in 1969, The Rolling Stones’ management left the task of stage and equipment security in the hands of Hells Angels – with tragic consequences. Occasionally, you may hear people harking back to the days of huge free concerts – but it’s worth remembering such events could afford to be free largely because of the absence of anything resembling proper security. The price of a ticket for a festival in the 21st Century doesn’t just have to cover the acts; it includes paying for the manpower needed to keep the whole thing descending into chaos.
Whatever size of event you’re organising, take security seriously. It’s about looking at security at the very earliest stages of planning; making proper provision in your budget, liaising with the local authority if appropriate and choosing the right solutions for whatever it is you’ve got planned. It’s not about ringing around for a couple of security guards-cum-car parking attendants a couple of weeks before the event with whatever funds you happen to have left.
There isn’t a one-size-fits-all approach to security
You wouldn’t expect a traffic cop to investigate a wallet snatch. In the same way, a close protection guard who’s job is it to ensure a headlining act gets where they need to be when they need to be there, tends to have a subtly different skill-set to personnel skilled in crowd management.
The Security Industry Authority (SIA) regulates the private security industry in the UK and all personnel operating within the sector need to demonstrate they have the basic qualifications for their broad roles. Simply looking for SIA accreditation may not be enough for ensuring you get the right people for your particular requirements. Responsible festival organisers look for specialist providers with a proven track record in this area. You should take a similar approach. If possible, get to see the company in action. How are the personnel relating to the public? How is the event as a whole going? Remember; this is your brand image at stake.
Choosing the right people will help you with risk evaluation and management
Getting the right security provider in at an early stage can provide you with valuable assistance with identifying the risks you need to be aware of. It means that if changes to the event as a whole need to be made, this can be dealt with relatively early in the planning process.
Look after your talent
Will certain guests or keynote performers have bespoke requirements? Effective security is about meeting those needs to enable those individuals to get the most out of the event. Remember; very often these people are the opinion formers whose opinions your general customer base follow avidly. Make sure your VIPs are looked after to ensure they come away with the right impression of your brand.