Meetings + Events

The power of gathering people

room space calculator

Find out how many people will fit in your room or what size room you need for your number of attendees.

Step 1
Choose a Room Layout type:

Step 2
Enter one of the following to determine the other:

Room Size:



NOTE: This is a starting guideline only. Accuracy for your particular event cannot be guaranteed.


Risky Business

Are we taking event security seriously enough?

By Laura Bickle

It is a sad fact that events that attract crowds can also attract people who want to do those crowds harm. The recent attack at the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester, and the Boston Marathon are chilling reminders of group vulnerability.

Incidents such as these have heightened concern and prompted dialog among the international event community: At IMEX America in Las Vegas a year ago, the Exhibitions and Meetings Safety and Security Initiative (EMSSI) was launched along with an alliance with the US Department of Homeland Security and the U.S. Safety Act Office. The issue has also been at the forefront of many global education sessions and in May, IMEX Frankfurt announced it was offering terrorism insurance to its exhibitors. Trevor Lui, the director of operations & sustainability at The International Centre in Mississauga, Ont., who was in Las Vegas for the EMSSI announcement, felt compelled to consider the state of the issue in his home and native land. And what he saw concerned him. “The rest of the world is talking about it but it’s really low-key in Canada. We have our fair share of the marketplace when it comes to events so why aren’t we addressing this at the same time? It feels like we’re not moving at the same pace as the rest of the world.” This prompted Lui to convene a meeting of Canadian industry leaders at the Event Security Round Table earlier this year. While the discus­sion is in its early stages, the intent is to gather data, increase education and communication on the topic, and develop standard guidelines.

While the wheels are in motion for an industry-wide discussion, what do you, as an individual planner, need to know and do in order to ensure that you, your clients and, most importantly, your attendees, are safe and protected?

Understand the New Reality 

While events have always been targets for demonstra­tions and theft, the risks have grown more potentially devastating. “Western ideals have become targets,” says Peter Martin, president and CEO of AFIMAC Global, a risk management and security company.

“There is a need to start shifting our concept of risk,” says Bettyane Sherrer, CMP, CMM, Principal of ProPlan Conferences & Events in Toronto and past-president of CanSPEP. “Anonymous threats change everything and my concern is a lack of adjustment in thinking.”

Still, it’s a delicate topic, says Lui. “We don’t want to instill fear. We need to find balance and provide a safe and risk-free environment.”

Assess your Risks 

“Planners need to do their homework and due diligence,” says Martin. And that means considering where the risks lie. But it doesn’t have to be daunting. “You don't need to spend a lot of money or have a complicated process to build a small duty of care module into the process. It’s simpler than people think.”

Sherrer says she considers security at every step of the process. “I approach it as my responsibility in assisting clients to make informed decisions. For example, ‘Here’s where we might be vulnerable: the keynote could attract demonstations,’” says Sherrer. She also asks hotels what their plan is for managing crises and what other groups are at the venue during their stay.

Take Responsibility 

A common source of frustration, say many venue oper­ators, is that clients assume the security employed by the venue is adequate for every event. However, says Lui, “building security is meant to secure our public points of entrance—our front desk, our entrance, our common areas. That doesn’t include securing your floor.”

“There needs to be a centralized thought process on who’s responsible for what,” says Martin.

Of course, cost can be an issue, says Sherrer: “Security is still low priority in operational budgets.”

However, Lui hopes attitudes will change: “It’s the cost of doing business, like Wi-Fi. It’s about spending smarter.”


“It’s great when we’re planning with a customer and the customer actually contacts us about emergency preparedness, which is very seldom,” says Lui.

All players need to keep each other in the loop and discuss how the evolution of the event may affect security needs. Martin relays an incident where his firm was supplying security to a somewhat controver­sial client who was speaking to what was supposed to be a closed group at a university. Unbeknownst to the security detail, the event was opened to the public and the attendees became violent. The client escaped unharmed, but the lack of communication “put every­one in danger,” says Martin.

Protect Yourself 

So you do a risk assessment and present your recom­mendations to the client and they reject them. What do you do? Document it, says Andrew Spencer, a broker at Prolink Insurance, which offers event insurance. Sherrer follows that advice and says it’s not uncom­mon to encounter resistance from clients. “All I can do is provide information to my client to help them make good decisions. The decision is still theirs.”

With protecting yourself comes having insurance for all events. “You should always carry event insurance, but still, I know many planners don’t,” says Sherrer.

Spencer points to a case where a planner was hired by a college to coordinate a travelling performance series. One of the performers caused considerable fire damage to a hotel room. Neither the college nor the planner had insurance, so the college sued the planner for professional negligence. “Many courts will rule that the professional expectation of planners is that they have insurance and have conversations regarding security and safety with their clients,” says Spencer.

Ultimately, says Sherrer, putting a priority on security comes down to good business and integrity: “I would rather be proactive than reactive, especially when it comes to something as important as people’s safety.”


Peter Martin shares the questions to ask when looking for reputable security:

  • Do they have references and can you have numbers you can call directly? If the firm asks to be on the call with you, that’s a red flag.
  • Do they have a long-term reputa­tion under the same name?
  • Have they done repeat work for well-known companies?
  • Will they indemnify clients against something they do wrong?
  • Can you see their insurance and ensure that it has their name on it?
  • Do they specialize in a lot of ser­vices other than security? If so, run, says Martin.

other articles in this section

Team Building Now

The Disposable Dilemma

Video Star

Case Study: Virtual Awards Show

Are you virtually covered?

Lights, Camera, Action!

2021 Trend Watch

Flight Forecast

Case Study: A hybrid event for meeting planners

Trading Spaces

Terms of Empowerment

Feeding the Future

Milestone reflections

Virtual Holiday Party Ideas

Case Study: Canadian Event Industry Awards

Stress Busters

Case Study: 100-person virtual mentoring event

The Power of Story

Event spotlight: ConferenceDirect meets at Caesars Forum Las Vegas

By the Numbers: October 2020 Edition

A Whole New [Virtual] World

Level Up

The Time is Now

Grab the Mic, Grow Your Business

Should you give interns a turn?

Up for Interpretation

Balancing Act

Back to Business: Insights from the MTCC

Back to Business: Insights from byPeterandPauls Hospitality Group

Back to Business: Insights from Industry Associations

Hands Off

Must-haves for the New Reality

Back to Business: Insights from White Oaks Resort & Spa

Gotta Get It: Golf Edition

The Art of Communication

Back to Business: Insights from Casa Loma Escape Series

The Ignite Guide to Masks

Parting thoughts

Back to Business: Insights from JW Marriott The Rosseau Muskoka

The new reality for... Speakers

The new reality for... Caterers

Fight Right

The new reality for... Team Building

Virtual Sponsorship How-To

The new reality for... Hotels

CanSPEP Connext Conference Kit

The new reality for... DMCs

How to turn delegates into social media brand ambassadors

The new reality for… CONVENTION CENTRES

Job Hunting Today

Your Event Contract Questions Answered

The New Reality for… RESORTS

Hack Away

Beyond Talking Heads

Keeping Connected

Be a Part of the Solution

Time Wise

One Big Virtual Reunion

There's No 'i'solation in Team

New Direction in a Time of Need

Financial Smarts

On the Bright Side

Talk to Me

Food Forward

The Value of Employee Sustainability

All the Right Moves

The Real Cost of RFPs

Valuable Video

Meetings Forecast 2020

RFP Writing 101

Epic Flight

Events that Matter

Trade Show Secrets

Taking Good Care

Oh Canada

Canadian Teambuilding

The Dilemma

We’re All in This Together

Trend Update

Vision Quest

Turn Off that Phone!

Get Into WEC 2019

No Place Like Home

Get into the Tourney

Eating Cleaner

Marriott’s Bonvoy Launches

On the Quiet Side

Getting to Know You

Lifelong Learning

Dynamic Icebreakers

New Year, New You

The Next Step

Meeting Trends 2019

Dialled In

MPAHT Signs The Code

Holographic Magic

Light Touches

Screening Room

Attendee Survival Guide

Oh Canada!