How do we create secure, attendee-friendly solutions when high-profile meetings won’t allow cell phones?
In this day and age, everyone’s smartphone enables them to turn into an on-the-spot reporter, complete with high-powered camera and internet capabilities at their fingertips. This presents a security challenge for events and meetings where sensitive material is being presented such as automotive or technology industry insider meetings. There are several solutions available for situations like these, but they are highly contingent upon the type of event and the level of security needed. Options can range from a general security team to keep a watchful eye over cameras to a large-scale security protocol with multiple moving parts. At one recent meeting, our team developed a cell valet process that collects and returns attendee cell phones and recording devices quickly and efficiently in order to provide this security but without decreasing the overall experience. After implementing this process at two recent large-scale automotive meetings, we’ve been thrilled with its success and scalability.
With any special security needs, the first (and arguably most important) piece of the puzzle is effective communication beforehand. Attendees are not happy to give up their electronics with no warning beforehand – none of us would be! Using our email and marketing platform, we made sure to include relevant security information with each attendee email or communication. While on-site for the meeting, we scheduled mass text messages that, among other relevant information, made it clear when and where cell phones were to be dropped off. Especially within the automotive industry it is understood that in order to get the exclusive information you have to ensure broadcasting blackout. That fact combined with clear communication meant that when the time came, we encountered very few attendees that were blindsided. In fact, many had elected to simply leave their electronics in their room, making the process even faster and more efficient due to a smaller volume of phones. The key to all of this was communication, and as with many things within the meetings and event industry it proved to be the cornerstone of ensuring smooth sailing.
Besides a communication strategy, what is needed to pull this off? The process involved strategically placed staff with numbered clear plastic envelopes. Inside the envelopes were the corresponding numbers that were handed to attendees, much like a conventional valet service. What makes this valuable for large scale security needs is that with proper planning this process can hold up to big numbers. At one particular meeting approximately 600 cell phones were re-distributed as guests entered the evening reception. Using tables placed around the venue and flexible signage on iPads, attendees were quickly directed to their devices. With the exception of a few stragglers, most cell phones were distributed in 15 minutes. Even the most ardent cell addicts can handle that turn around time and we found that to be true in this case.
Another option to ensure security at a sensitive event is to apply measures directly to the device. Occasionally taking a phone or tablet is out of the question, in this instance specialized stickers that cover the front and back of the device camera can be applied by a security team. We were able to see this solution in action at a recent event. The tape was a different color for each day, and showed a telltale pattern if it was tampered with during the private portion of the meeting. The job of the security team would then become that of inspecting the tape to ensure there wasn’t a breach and then moving on to the next person. At the end of the day the privacy of the event was ensured and the tape came off of the phones with no damage and no sticky residue.
There are a variety of options for on-site security, but what unites them all is that careful thought and consideration has to be given to each potential solution to find that one that is right for each event. At Wellington, our top priority is making sure our clients feel comfortable and, in turn, their attendees have the best possible experience no matter the event.