MPI Blog

From the CEO

Meeting & Event Risk Assessment: How to Stay Aware


Like most parents, I recall many times over the years telling my children to “be aware of your surroundings.” It is a natural parental instinct to worry about your children’s safety and whether someone will attempt to harm them when they are not in your presence. Even now, as my children have grown into young adults, I continue to remind them to exercise caution—“be smart, be safe and be aware.”

I imagine during these conversations they see me as an overprotective father who is always concerned about their well-being. However, this is not just a concern for my children, but an overall shift in my thinking and behavior from even a few short years ago. Personally, I have become more vigilant when I am traveling or attending an event, and I suspect many of you have as well, especially the meeting planners within our community.

Lately, I find myself going into an autopilot-like security mindset when I enter a public space or attend a conference, meeting or any large gathering—assessing the venue and meeting space for potential risks and hazards, looking for the entry and exit points, identifying security personnel, etc. I ask myself what are the risks and what would I change in this situation.

See related article: On Alert: Is Your Event Plan Ready for a Crisis

This heightened focus on safety, security and risk management within our industry is an unfortunate reality. It is a reality that as planners we are obligated to be aware of. With the state of the world today, it is becoming more important for us to increase our vigilance when planning meetings and events. We must learn as much as we can to mitigate risks and ensure the safety and security of attendees, staff, volunteers, vendors and partners at our events.

The MPI Academy now offers a variety of education on safety and security. Some of you may recall that I mentioned in the September 2016 issue of this magazine that we were in the process of developing new educational offerings on this very important topic, and I am proud to report we currently have 20 courses available on our website covering cyber security, travel safety, crisis management, case studies and more.

In addition, we partnered with the National Center for Spectator Sports Safety and Security (NCS4) at the University of Southern Mississippi to launch our Emergency Preparedness for Meetings and Events certificate course earlier this year.

We are also working with the NCS4 on a five-year, pan-industry initiative to create the first global gold standards for safety and security for meeting and event professionals. During our Thought Leaders Summit in October, we will hold a Risk Management Conclave—the first step in the five-year process—where we will discuss and collect best practices. These best practices will be published as a reference guide and used to develop more education, research reports and case studies that we will introduce throughout 2018.

For now, I encourage you to participate in the online courses we currently have available as well as the webinars we have scheduled through January 2018. And if you are going to IMEX America next month, we have a few risk management sessions planned for Smart Monday as well.

Be smart, be aware and, most importantly, be prepared.


Paul Van Deventer
MPI President & CEO

About the Author

Paul Van Deventer
President & Chief Executive Officer at Meeting Professionals International

Paul Van Deventer joined the MPI Global Team in April 2013 as President and Chief Executive Officer (CEO). In this role, he leads the strategic direction of both MPI’s global association and the MPI Foundation, with responsibility for managing its global staff, operating budget, membership programs and community services.