Best Practices for Event Control in the 'New Normal'

A new post-COVID reality brings new challenges in event delivery and venue management. Here we provide best practice advice and free resources to make your operations more efficient and secure.

Take away a copy of the full guide to keep 

  • Now, your operations need to be more safe, secure and accountable
  • The challenges COVID has created demand more digitisation and automation
  • Follow best practices to give you confidence that your event or venue is ready for the challenges ahead

Download Now!

Introduction: Event Management Challenges in a Post-COVID Control Room

WeTrack's Commercial Director Eric Solem considers the new challenges facing the industry as events and venues begin to re-open in some parts of the world.

The roar of the crowd is missing from our lives at the moment, but it is coming back. The sports, events and hospitality world are beginning to come out of the forced COVID hibernation, so let us look at what that means for how we operate those businesses going forward, and the new challenges that we face.

  • New policies and procedures will lead to the collecting and managing of more data - and with more data comes the challenge of communicating and acting upon that data;
  • The current push towards mobile ticketing will only accelerate, so that venues and events have an automatic record of who attended;
  • PCR testing might become mandatory, so will an event or venue have to become its own Test, Track and Trace machine? Box office staff and control room managers will have to work more directly with public health agencies;
  • Events and venues will need to use digital systems to handle the volume of new information required and to ensure a single source of truth in managing risks and incidents.

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Event management is full of moving parts and the additional complexity involved in post-COVID event planning will require tools to meet that complexity. You can read my full thoughts in this article.

Thank you for reading and I hope you find this white paper valuable. Please download it at the top or bottom of the page for full detail.

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CONTROL ROOMS

Bournemouth 7s' Craig Mathie discusses COVID, event control, safety challenges, excitement for the summer and more...

3 months out from the festival, are you more apprehensive or excited?

I'm definitely more positive than negative about delivering the event this year! Provided the government and the research programme takes an appropriate approach to managing risk, then we will be okay. At some point, COVID has to become something that sits in the matrix of risk that we are facing rather than being the sole focus. But we’re ready – and our suppliers, our contractors, and our customers are ready!

Glad to hear it! So will this be the best Bournemouth 7s yet?

Absolutely, and the biggest! We're almost sold out, the excitement is really there. Anyone hosting a show this year will really benefit from that appetite.

This year, will you need to work even more closely with public authorities?

I think that kind of multi-agency working has always been really significant, but the big change has been the addition of public health into that process. All of the SAGs (Safety Advisory Groups) I am involved in now have public health representatives or channels to feed back to public health. But everyone is incredibly pragmatic about COVID. We’re just waiting for the published guidance, and then we know that as event professionals we will be able to deliver on that in the same pragmatic, appropriate and positive way that we have always done. We have history of dealing with really serious changes to the industry, such as terrorism, so it is important to manage this whole matrix of risks in the right way.

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Read on for the rest of our interview with Craig.

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What is a major event Main Operations Centre?

The MOC is the hidden hub of any major event, designed to provide central coordination of all event-time operations. Here we look at its purpose, how it is organised and its role at major events.

Operations teams need oversight of events and venues, the tools to manage incidents effectively, a log of everything happening across venues, and expertise and information available when required. A lot of this activity happens within the MOC, which:

  • Controls a hub of information affecting venues, stakeholders and more;
  • Acts as a single source of truth for that information;
  • Provides support and resources for operational venues;
  • Facilitates incident response;
  • Reports exceptional trends and activity up to DOGO (Director of Games Operations) level.

There are two types of information upon which the MOC relies: static information, such as run sheets, contingency plans, and competition plans; and dynamic information, such as weather forecasts, CCTV, and daily statistics. The right information needs to reach the right people at the right time, in live time.

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Here is how the MOC fits in to the complex puzzle of people working at a major event.

The internal organisational structure of the MOC

an Olympic level MOC org chart-1The MOC's place in wider Games-time decision-making processes

MOC decision making levelsAnd a map of the stakeholders which the MOC exists to support

MOC stakeholdersThe importance of the Main Operations Centre at a major event is evident. All other teams rely on it and it is the hub of information flow and decision-making at Games-time. You can read the full article on the Main Operations Centre here.

 

INCIDENT MANAGEMENT

How do incidents get resolved in event control?

Where event control is perhaps most important - and most tested - is when the unexpected happens. Major incidents can have safety, financial, reputational or legal ramifications. Successful incident management requires that policies and procedures are tracked and verified, and held in a system of record. Here we take a look at the resolution of an incident in event control.

Incidents are by their very nature a surprise and your reaction to one will have to be spontaneous! But everything you need to resolve an incident should be in place long before the incident occurs.

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When an incident does occur, three things need to happen: the incidents needs to be reported, recorded and resolved.

  • Reporting: There need to be clear, pre-established lines of communication, and rules about what is escalated to event control and when. Your on-the-ground staff are the eyes and ears of event control - they'll possess vital information and they need to know how to deal with it depending on its severity and relevance.
  • Recording: Confirm and record everything that is known. In fact, make clear in advance what type of information needs to be known, as event control don't need to know every detail. But location, severity, time, any relevant images, responsible person, agency or department, and any communication that has already taken place - that's the kind of info that is needed. Logging is essential, in case required for legal or other investigation after the event. If it's not written down, it doesn't exist!
  • Resolving: This is where your pre-event planning pays off. The relevant individual(s) should consult relevant material such as contingency plans and liaise with relevant parties so that the right people know the right thing to do. Analyse any implications and deal with the incident sensibly, to ensure that you're not making any financial, legal, or reputational mistakes - and send out any required comms as appropriate.

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You can never prepare for an exact instance of an incident, but you can get good processes in place, sort out responsibilities and be confident that when an incident does pop up, your team are ready to deal with it. Read our full article on resolving incidents in event control.

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How incident management works in the MOC

There is added scrutiny and potential impact when managing incidents for a major event.

Who is involved?

Let's look step-by-step at the key parties who might need to be involved in resolving an incident.

  • The Venue team / Functional team on-site take the lead. If they have the tools to resolve it, then they don't need to escalate to the MOC;
  • An issue that requires further oversight might be escalated to the FCC (Functional Coordination Centre), for a particular function to manage;
  • An issue of high severity, or one that requires multiple functions for resolution, will be escalated to the MOC;
  • Then the Decision Support Service assists, providing information, monitoring progress for the daily MOC report, recording actions and writing up issue resolution reports;
  • Incidents of exceptional significance might be taken all the way up to the DOGO (Director of Games Operations, but the acronym is more fun).

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So how does a Games-time incident get resolved?

  • The priority - as with any incident at any event of any scale - is to confirm everything that is known: detail, location, impact, timing, what has already happened and what has already been communicated to impacted parties;
  • Then there a number of ways of resolving an incident, including forming a team to tackle the incident (if very significant), consultation of relevant material such as contingency plans, and liaising with affected parties. Here a lot of the crucial work is done long before the incident takes place;
  • If reported up the chain to the MOC or even to DOGO, recommendations for resolution and any further action would be made at the highest level involved;
  • A vital step once the incident has been resolved is post-resolution analysis of any implications - financial, legal, reputational etc - and any communications that need to go out.

Whether you are delivering a local fair or the Olympic Games, an event control room needs the right place, the right processes, the right equipment and the right people. Digital systems to capture the data must be in place for accuracy and transparency: best practices hold true in every case. Why not check out our full article on incident management in the MOC?

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Three crucial steps for incident management and event control

The new normal will have more processes and more regulations - following these steps will ensure that your operations stand up to the most thorough audit.

1. Prepare thoroughly

Map out incident categories for better understanding of how to improve responses to specific incidents, and make communication more effective by fully involving agencies, teams and individuals.

2. Respond consistently

Build out contingency plans and response checklists, align responses with incident categories and make them readily available to team members.

3. Ensure accountability

Keep separate lists of general log items and incidents to allow for everything that happens to be recorded, and use event logging software that allows for complete recording and easy review of logs after the event.

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Make sure your event operations or venue management stand up to any test. Why not check out our full article on best practices for your incident management?

The Complete Guide to Incident Management and Event Control (1)-min

Incident Management Template

Properly recording, resolving and reporting on incidents is vital to the success of your event or venue, so it needs to be done well.

Much of the work in resolving an incident is done long before that incident occurs. In this template you will find incident checklists, categories and a severity scale for rating incidents, along with key information that must be collected.

incident management templateExcel is not a recommended method for incident management. This template is a guide for what you will want to record in event control.

Just click here for a free download, or read the full article containing our incident management template.

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EVENT AND VENUE CHECKS

Seven pre-event checks during COVID-19

Pre-opening checks for venues of all types are already subject to a series of regulations and standard operating procedures. These are clearly likely to increase in scope due to COVID-19, and it will be even more important to capture and track outcomes. Here are seven check types to consider before you can open to the public again.

Protect your staff, protect your visitors, protect your organisation.

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1. Safety: The regulations on event safety management will certainly not diminish in the 'new world'!

2. Hygiene: Consider increased cleaning, hand sanitising stations, temperature checks, and touch-free bins and soap dispensers.

3. Social Distancing: Consider pre-booked entry times only, print tickets at home or mobile ticketing, markers on floors where queueing is likely, increased spacing of chairs, and a review of workforce rotas.

4. PPE: Make sure it is of sufficient quality, doesn't affect the visitor experience, and is disposed of correctly.

5. Maintenance: Extra checks must be carried out and recorded centrally or risk assessed.

6. Staff Communication: Staff will need extra training, refreshed methods, and time to review new ways of working. This might take a while, but is crucial.

7. Guest Communication: Keep clear and consistent messaging from the first contact onwards, making sure it aligns to government or regulatory body advice.

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No event or venue will get this 100% correct first time, but the more planning that goes into it, the more likely it is that you will succeed. Vitally, you will need to keep extensive record keeping that is safe and, ideally, digital, for any audits or reviews that will undoubtedly come. Read our full article on planning your venue checks.

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Venue Checks Template

Checks are essential for your site's safety, security and readiness and should be planned comprehensively.

This template provides you with a guide for the kind of information you will need to plan when developing a programme of checks for your venue or event operations. However, the actual carrying out of your venue checks should not be done using Excel; it is unwieldy, cumbersome and doesn't allow you to interact with the checks and the rest of your team, nor put in vital supporting information such as photos.

venue checks templateGet in touch if you would like to learn more about how our venue checks software enables you to plan, manage, complete and respond to your checks in an easy-to-use, automated, mobile-friendly platform.

Just click here for the free download, or read the full article containing our venue checks template.

Download Now

 

RUN SHEETS

Use digital run sheets for events and venues

Run sheets give your team clarity and give your operations team peace of mind.

Across the scope of your event or venue, you need to have that peace of mind. Respond to your complicated operating plans with clear processes, visibility of what is going on, audit trails, and open and effective lines of communication.

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Run sheets exist to make your life easier, making it easier to follow plans, easier to change plans, and easy to communicate changes to plans! Make sure they give you:

  • Clarity: establish clear daily schedules
  • Collaboration: get your teams working together
  • Accuracy: send automatic updates in case of delay

Read our full article on the value of digital run sheets.

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Run Sheets Template

You need to arm your team with the information they need to deliver a successful operational day.

Proper planning and rehearsal of run sheets will give your team the basis they need to deliver a smooth event day, as well as understanding how items relate to each other in case plans need to change.

run sheet template imageIdeally your run sheets will end up in an online platform where they can be updated - and your team can be notified of changes - in just a matter of clicks. This free template can assist with your pre-event planning.

Just click here for the free download, or read the full article containing our run sheets template.

Download Now

MARTYN'S LAW

What is Martyn's Law and how can venues and events follow its guidance?

Martyn's Law is the legislation proposed to better protect the British public from terrorism in any public space. It has been driven forward by Figen Murray, mother of Martyn Hett who tragically died along with 22 others when a terrorist detonated a bomb at Manchester Arena at the end of an Ariana Grande concert in May 2017.

A new 'Protect Duty' would require public places to improve security measures to protect against a terrorist attack. It aims to learn lessons from 2017, achieving a coherent and proportionate approach to security at venues of any size.

arena image-minThe 5 key requirements that Martyn's Law would place on operators of public spaces:

  1. To engage with freely available counter-terrorism advice and training.
  2. To conduct vulnerability assessments.
  3. To have a mitigation plan for the risks created by the vulnerabilities.
  4. To have a counter-terrorism plan, such as 'Guide, Shelter, Communicate'.
  5. For local authorities, to plan for the threat of terrorism.

Safety is the issue that dominates for event planners now, with 55% citing it as the biggest concern when hosting a live event (Event Manager Blog, 2021)

Venues have an obligation to plan for the 0.1% of times when something really bad does happen: mitigating against it happening in the first place, and developing clear contingency plans in case it becomes reality.

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There are actions to be taken throughout the event planning and delivery lifecycle, or in your 365 venue management: check out our full article on Martyn's Law, or download this white paper, to see those in full detail.

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External Resources for the Industry

Event Safety

  • The Green Guide: The Guide to Safety at Sports Grounds supports safe management and operations of venues and stadia.
  • The Purple Guide: This supports the safe running of music and similar events.

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Returning after COVID-19

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Industry Publications

  • Event Industry News: This online magazine provides the latest news and views in the events industry.
  • The Crowd Magazine: This quarterly magazine provides safety news and best practices to venue and event managers.
  • Stand Out Magazine: This industry magazine is a valuable read for event managers and buyers.
  • Sports Venue Business: News, views, tenders, events and more for the venues industry.
  • Sustainability Report: Explore the latest news and developments in the world of sustainability, a vital area for event and venue professionals.

Conclusion - New Challenges But The Same Best Practices

There are clearly new challenges facing us in 2021. We are re-opening our events and venues during the COVID-19 pandemic with increased regulation, scrutiny and risk.

But as Craig Mathie said in his Q&A at the beginning of the paper, our industry has faced new challenges before. So the message here is that the same best practices hold true. If you engage with risks thoroughly; keep great oversight over your site; plan contingencies and checklists for incidents; and arm your staff with all of the information they need, then you'll deliver the same safe, successful and brilliant operations as you have done before.

Thank you for reading and please feel free to get in touch if you'd like to discuss any of these areas further.

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Take away a copy of the full guide to keep

  • Now, your operations need to be more safe, secure and accountable
  • The challenges COVID has created demand more digitisation and automation
  • Follow best practices to give you confidence that your event or venue is ready for the challenges ahead

Download Now!