Quiz: Are you an “expert” amusement ride operator?


Amusement ride quiz

Are you an “expert” amusement ride operator? Test your knowledge regarding important amusement industry concepts that separate experts from novices.

Event Planning: All I need to know I learned from a birthday invitation?


Event Planning: All I need to know I learned from a birthday invitation?

Event planners, I present to you… the “Birthday Invitation” The 5 W’s: Why, Who, When, Where and What…?

Is does not get much simpler than that. That’s it… REALLY!?

Well, I might be leaving out a few minor details. Just a few!

I oversimplify the process to make a point… OBVIOUSLY!

Events range in size from small family gatherings (such as birthday parties—I’m sure you have been to a disaster or two), to multi-day music festivals (such as the Fyre Festival—if you are not familiar, please look it up), each requiring qualified and competent event planners to address a multitude of issues—easier said than done sometimes. By-the-way… Just because you have been to a birthday party or attended a music festival—does not mean you can plan one.

Many event planners spend countless hours developing and managing their events; the bulk of which are extremely successful—apparently following a rigorous process—or they are just lucky!

I’ve spent over a decade examining and participating in 100’s of legal matters surrounding the event industry. I have concluded that the rigor to achieve event success is not practiced by all—or even understood.

Let’s start with the basics—the birthday invitation. When developing an event, an event planner must determine five (5) necessary elements, specifying:

  1. Why (the purpose and role of the event);five W questions for event planning (what, who, where, when, why).
  2. Who (the audience and stakeholders);
  3. When (date and duration);
  4. Where (location and available space); and,
  5. What (the resources available and desired outcomes).

By now you have determined that the “birthday invitation” is just the starting point to having a successful event.

For those that are not formally trained or might have missed a class or two… the process is much deeper. In fact, the event industry has a formalized model that uses at its core the 5W’s to create, develop, and deliver a successful event. This internationally recognized framework, known as the Event Management Body of Knowledge (EMBOK) Model, not only requires planners to answer the 5W’s, but to manage design, administration, marketing, operations and risk.

To effectively deliver an event based on the EMBOK Model, an event planner must follow a systematic process—every time.

In addition to the 5W’s and management responsibilities, event planners must measure (identify and analyze event objectives), select (determine goal-oriented outcomes), monitor (event progress and status), communicate (acquire and distribute content), and document (collect data and evidence) to achieve event success.

The real kicker… now apply ALL of these principles to every decision you make (selection of staff, vendors [food to amusements], locations [purpose-built vs. non-purpose-built], audience type, transportation, insurance, contracts, security, and more.

Remember, for an event to be successful, the planner must manage all obligations appropriately; after all, you only have one opportunity to succeed.

The birthday invitation is a great starting point, but consider when you are identifying, selecting, organizing, developing, and promoting an event with the purpose of providing people an experience, you have a responsibility to adhere to more than the fundamentals… you have a duty to deliver a reasonably safe and enjoyable experience following the established standards set by qualified and competent planners and industry experts.

Some friendly advice… This is not a suggestion, this is the rule! So find the time to incorporate it into your process and avoid any potential pitfalls—before it’s too late!

Vetting vendors: An 8-step guide for event planners and venue operators


vetting your event vendors:

Vetting product and service suppliers is not a new concept. In fact, according to ADWEEK, over 80% of shoppers conduct research prior to a purchase—for personal consumption and use.

Unfortunately, in the corporate world, it is a 180-degree shift—maybe it has something to do with spending other people’s money?

Global Risk Management Solutions, a leading compliance management firm, estimates that less than 20 percent of companies do any type of screening of their vendors, suppliers, and subcontractors. This gap in due diligence is a significant area of risk for any industry or organization—especially the events industry.

By failing to examine vendor’s capabilities, insurance policies, SOPs, permits and more, event planners and venue operators are exposing themselves to numerous liabilities.

Vendor/third-party vetting and oversight requirements are on the rise due to broken promises and disastrous results—oftentimes leaving the event planner or venue operator “holding the bag” —a haute couture bag. It doesn’t have to be this way!

Selecting product and service suppliers can seem like a daunting task, but it doesn’t have to be—it can be done with ease with a little pre-planning.

How well do you know your vendors with whom you conduct business? The truth is, probably not very well! Most organizations are not fully aware of a vendor’s abilities and/or shortcomings until it’s too late. Let’s change that.

It is understood that most events, and therefore planners, are pressed for time and money when identifying and selecting vendors. There is no benefit in the long run to fast-tracking this process. A well-established and methodical process will save you time and money in the end—as well as protect the reputation of the business.

Brian Avery, of Event Safety Services, has developed key concepts your company should address when evaluating vendors. Consider developing a checklist based on these ideas for your organization. Let’s get to know your supplier…

  1. Reach out to more than one vendor… and compare answers—it might surprise you. If you notice discrepancies… do more research. Also, determine if the vendor subs out work to other vendors. If so, make sure you use this process to vet them as well.
  2. Have your vendors provide a list of references (at least 3)? Word of mouth can be a very powerful tool… but it is only a place to start. There are many examples of suppliers that could paint a wall but could not pull a permit for work (think unlicensed contractors). Dig deeper… Check online references as well: Better Business Bureau (BBB), Google, Facebook, etc.
  3. Are they financially stable? Request to see financial statements—make sure the company can fund the job you have requested. The more expensive the job is, the deeper you dig to be ensure they can complete it.
  4. Insurance… hedging your bet! Being provided a COI, named on the policy and setting limits is just the beginning. Insurance can get complicated… consult an insurance agent/broker or attorney that knows the event industry—be honest about what you are doing. Sneaky underwriters and spotty coverage is leaving many event planners and venue operators exposed. Claims based policies and policy exemptions often provide service providers with lower rates—but at what cost to you—the planner/operator. Read each vendors policy and ask questions… based on solid research/knowledge.
  5. You might need a license/permit for that. You might be surprised by what is regulated. A great place to start… state department of business and professional regulation. Each state maintains a list of regulated industries (everything from amusement rides to talent agencies). Ask each vendor if they are regulated by state or federal (separate database) requirements. By speaking to multiple vendors, you might get multiple answers—red flag.
  6. Is it written down? Verbal policies and procedures don’t hold much water. Uniformity, based on exacting regulations, standards, etc. make for good policies and procedures… if they are written down and followed. Everything from weather related matters to food service handling should be addressed with plans. The goal is to compare policies and procedures and ensure compliance is obtained by all parties involved. If a vendor does not have written policies and procedures based on manufacturer materials, regulations, standards and practices… you should consider finding someone else. Handing out waivers and stating it’s not my problem “won’t hold water.”
  7. Does training come with that? Determine if the staff provided by the vendor is trained per the policies and procedures provided. Ask to see training logs and manuals… you might even ask to speak to a staff member—you can learn a great deal from them. If staff are not properly trained… move on!
  8. In case of emergency! Preparedness is key to timely and efficient response. Make sure your vendors have a set plan addressing guest injuries and even natural disasters (size and scope of event is relevant). Make sure plans are shared on both sides to provide consistent and timely care. Once again—they must be written down.

A comparative analysis of your findings should be conducted to determine the most suitable vendor for the job. There are instances when it benefits you to simply walk away. When in doubt—get out! By the way, this is a two-way street.

As event planners and venue operators, we have an obligation to ensure the safety of our patrons—by vetting your vendors, you are taking a huge step in the right direction in doing so.

Let’s set the example… the event industry should take the lead on this and show other industries how it can be done.

Monitoring the Wind at Outdoor Events


monitoring weather (wind) at outdoor events

Weather events as a result of wind speed can be a serious threat to the safe operation of an event or an attraction.

Gusts, microburst, straight-line winds, etc. can wreak havoc on most temporary structures and attractions.

As planners, established policies and procedures need to be in place to address the monitoring of weather, announcements, movement of people (shelters or closure), cessation of activities/attractions, removal of equipment and more.

The process of monitoring and alerting of weather related conditions needs to be continuous and proactive.

It does not take much… as an example: Many 10×10 tents need to be collapsed in 15 mph winds and most inflatables (bounce houses, obstacle courses) must be deflated at 20 mph.

Event and Attraction Safety Inspections


events and attractions safety inspections

Event professionals and attraction/venue operators have an obligation to staff, vendors, and patrons to inspect premises and equipment prior to permitting use of the facilities, devices or the experiences provided.

Inspections are an on-going and dynamic activity considering the environment is ever-changing.

Use qualified staff to conduct your inspections and document your process thoroughly.

When in doubt… reach out and seek assistance in your planning.‬‬

1 2 3 11