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LA Auto Show manager talks the great unknowns of security

EVP & general manager at LA Auto Show Terri Toennies talks security issues

Trade show executives can control a lot, but they cannot control the unknown: a group or an individual that wants to physically harm people at a large gathering of unsuspecting individuals. 

Most trade show teams do not have the luxury of a full time director of security. Instead, security often falls to the senior director of operations, who, having their hands full, may lean on other members of the team, or the subcontracted security itself to manage all aspects of security staffing, often without comment or direction from the show itself: “That’s the way we have always done it”. Often, the venue where the trade show is being held, may give the show its standard recommendations for securing the building and a show. Neither of these options ensures a successful security programme.

Show security is one of the single most important things that an executive gets involved with. There are specific protocols dictated by the executive that cannot be properly communicated by anyone other than the executive.

There will be budget conversations at Board level involving a significant increase in security spend, that only the executive director will have the ability to discuss thoroughly and completely with a Board. 

There will be partnership conversations with the venue’s executive team about security efficiencies and accepted venue practices that only the executive director should lead. 

An executive will need to oversee the overall venue and show security plan to the point of being able to be comfortable that guest safety is a priority and that the entire show team understands this is no longer an optional area of importance – it is a required area of importance that needs ongoing executive level direction and oversight. 

The show executive must manage the unknown, or risk having the unknown manage the outcome of the show.


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