Event Planning: Risk Mitigation Factors a Company Should Consider When Planning an Event

3 minute read | July.27.2023

Organizations host events that vary in scale, scope and logistics. Teams put enormous resources into planning to ensure a successful event. Unfortunately, an unanticipated accident or other catastrophic incident can negatively impact the audience experience. To mitigate the risks associated with such unanticipated accidents or incidents, a company should consider a variety of factors during the planning stage.

A client recently sought advice from Orrick’s Employment team about best practices aimed at reducing risk associated with company events. The team thought it would be beneficial to share insights on that topic more broadly.

The precise steps a company should consider may vary based on the scale of the event, inherent risks and other commercial considerations. Regardless of the size and scale of the event, the starting point for proper planning begins with a risk assessment associated with the nature of the event, the audience and the venue. After that, a company should consider various pre-event risk mitigation steps as well as incident response steps to be taken should a catastrophic accident or incident occur.

Here are five things a company might consider before an event to mitigate risk – and five incident response steps to consider should a catastrophic accident or incident occur.

Before the Event: Risk Mitigation Considerations

1. Focus on Contracts

Review contracts / agreements for all event vendors, collaborators, and the venue to consider factors such as:

  • On-site emergency facilities, plans, security, and emergency services provided by vendors.
  • Connections with local emergency personnel and authorities.
  • Indemnification clauses.
  • Any restrictions consistent with local laws.

2. Review Insurance Provisions

  • Ask to be listed as an additional insured on venue policies and confirm that your own policies include coverage for an incident or accident.

3. Assess Security and Emergency Services

  • Determine what services the venue provides and liaise with local authorities.
  • Assign safety captains at the event with adequate training to assist if there is an incident or accident.
  • Set up communication channels from all on-site security and safety captains to the response team and local authorities.

4. Communicate with Attendees

  • Share “what to do in an emergency” information with event attendees. This might go on an event app.
  • Consider having attendees sign releases.

5. Refine Your Reputation Management and Communications Strategy

  • Is the company’s risk management plan fresh and are new team members up to speed?
  • Consider conducting regular “event centric” tabletop exercises aimed at identifying possible risks and/or possible planning related weaknesses or vulnerabilities.
  • Do you and the venue, vendors, etc., have up-to-date crisis communications playbooks and response plans for employees?

If an Incident or Accident Occurs

It may be helpful to have a playbook that walks the team through the following considerations:

  1. Deploy emergency services and alert the security team, as appropriate.
  2. Provide real time information to attendees and safety captains.
  3. Report to local and regulatory authorities as required.
  4. Respond to media inquiries.
  5. Communicate with other stakeholders, such as employees and shareholders.

In the event a company experiences a catastrophic event-related accident or incident, Orrick has a Crisis Management Team consisting of lawyers and communications experts with broad and deep experience managing such incidents. For further information about this team please contact Aravind Swaminathan, Jim Stengel, John Wolfe or David Chamberlin.