A strong event crowd management plan is critical when large groups gather, but it’s a detail that often ends up as an afterthought. Sadly, the necessity for this type of plan has been highlighted by the rising number of crowd-related disasters in recent years. A tragic example is the 2021 Astroworld Music Festival, in which ten concertgoers were killed, and dozens were injured. The crowd of 50,000 tightly packed attendees compressed towards the stage, causing loss of life, injuries, and emotional distress for all involved. As a result, the concert organizers and performers have faced multiple lawsuits.
Further complicating the matter is the return of live events post-pandemic. People have endured long delays and cancellations, and when those events finally happen, attendees are more energized than ever. As the excitement and passion levels increase, so does the risk of hazardous incidents. Fortunately, many things can be done to mitigate the risk.
This blog will outline some crucial components of an event crowd management plan to help reduce the likelihood of serious issues. This includes steps to take before, during, and after the event to ensure the best possible outcome. While it’s no substitute for a comprehensive insurance policy, an event crowd management plan goes a long way. Furthermore, identifying the strengths and weaknesses of such a plan can help venue owners better evaluate insurance needs.
Develop an event crowd management plan long before the event
Event attendees probably wouldn’t say that safety is their top concern when going to an event, but it’s certainly something they expect. For venues, running a safe event for fun-seeking crowds is the top priority, and it must start with careful planning beforehand.
When preparing an event crowd management plan, the first step is to ensure venue staff members are trained to prevent and handle any hazardous situations. Those responsible for the event must allow time for information gathering, consulting relevant parties for counsel, and establishing adequate protocols to manage crowd safety. Local authorities, emergency services, and internal staff such as security should be involved in planning. It’s also important to factor in guidelines set by the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA). OSHA enforces health and safety laws to protect employees. Their crowd control guidelines apply to event venues such as amusement parks, fairs, and concerts.
Thorough pre-event safety emergency planning addresses hazards such as overcrowding, stampedes, fire, or even violent behavior. Employees should be trained on keeping crowds under control, and staffing plans should detail the number of workers needed and where they should be stationed. Additionally, fire and police agencies should be notified of the crowd size and other factors before the event begins. The plan should also factor in the following details:
- Venue capacity
- Location of entrances and exits
- Emergency escape routes
- Allowances for guests with special needs
- Maintenance of equipment, such as turnstiles
- Access to first-aid facilities
- Adverse weather plans
Adequate preparation will help pave the way for a safer, smoother experience when the crowds arrive.
Day-of protocols help large-scale crowd control during an event
While training staff is a critical part of any event crowd management plan, executing day-of measures to keep attendees safe is just as important. Proper venue setup is the first line of defense. Barricades, rope lines, and other management devices should be in place well before event attendees arrive. Appropriate signage is another must-have, including the clear marking of emergency exits during and after the event.
It’s also helpful to display a number to call or text if attendees notice a possible hazard, need help, or if they want to report anything anonymously. Bathroom and tabletop signage (or even ticket stubs!) are good places to communicate this information. These day-of efforts help give attendees peace of mind and demonstrate that their safety is a priority for the venue.
Following up after the event helps to improve safety plans
The event safety plan should be a living document that is constantly improved upon and updated. A critical part of the process is to follow up with attendees after the event to gather feedback and input. This can take the form of a survey with questions such as:
- How safe did you feel at the event?
- If you witnessed any problematic situations, did security respond responsibly?
- Do you have suggestions for making future events even safer?
Though you can’t prevent every possible situation, a smart event crowd management plan can significantly reduce risk and improve safety for staff and attendees. Preparing and training before the event and proper venue setup will help ensure guests have fun and stay as safe as possible. Event follow-up will help with continuous improvements to keep guests and attendees coming back for more.
Unfortunately, accidents and unforeseeable situations will happen. It’s imperative to have the right insurance coverage to protect your venue. With 35 years in the business, McGowan Allied Specialty Insurance has a deep understanding of the needs of the entertainment and amusement businesses. Get in touch to learn more about coverage options for venues and events of any size.