Crisis Scenario – Protestors in the Exhibit Hall

Use these crisis scenarios to get a sense of how your team might respond in various emergency situations. Be sure to respond individually and then convene as a group to understand how prepared your meeting & event teams are. Take notes on responses, thoughts, or concerns so that you can consider these when developing your risk management playbook.
Protestors in the Exhibit Hall
Scene 1:

Executives are in rehearsals in Ballroom A. The staff are spread out all over the venue. You are at the front of the hall at the registration desk. All booths are open and there are about 500 people walking around the exhibit hall. Two men in overalls with painter’s caps are walking around in the back of the hall. They both have give-away bags that are bulging with items. They start laughing and pointing at people, acting like clowns. Some people notice but are not too concerned. Then the men break into yelling, name calling and obscenities. People run to the registration desk to tell you what is going on in the back of the hall.

Exercise 1:

You have 5 minutes to write down how you will react to hearing this news. Use sticky
notes, with one action per note. Please do not talk to other team members. Post all your responses in one place.

Scene 2:

Hotel security is on their way but now the two men are threatening people. You are concerned about what is in their bags. The attendees and exhibitors are panicked and some
are running away. The protesters are yelling, “We left a present for you! You are going to burn in hell!”  Someone tells you that they saw the men come into the Exhibit Hall from
the back entrance through the loading dock.

Exercise 2:

You have 5 minutes to write down your next steps. How are you handling the protesters? The panicked attendees? Where is security? Who else are you concerned about?  Do not
talk to other team members as you write your answers.  Post your responses to Scene 2 next to the responses for Scene 1.

Scene 3:

6 hotel security officers arrive and are attempting to restrain the two men. A gun falls out of one of the bags with a lot of propaganda materials. People begin screaming at the site of the gun and start yelling, “How do I get out of here!” You are getting texts, phone calls and emails from the executives. Finally, the SWAT team has arrived as the police were called. Hotel Security has turned over the scene to the Police. Security is having a full evacuation
of the area. Hotel staff is directing people where to go. You now see that Tweets and Instagram photos of the SWAT Team going into the hotel are going out like crazy.

Exercise 3:

You have 5 minutes to write down your actions and messaging. Who do you respond to first? What do you say? What should you be doing with the attendees and exhibitors?  Who is handling the media calls which the executive and the Board are now getting? How do they know what information is accurate? What is the strategy for advising the public, friends and family outside the event? What is the strategy for keeping the Event moving forward safely and successfully?

Brenda Rivers


Meeting Professional – Lawyer – Consultant – Trainer - Author

Brenda Rivers, President and founder of SAFE LLC, is a risk management expert who frequently speaks at major meetings industry events.

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