Meetings mean vigilance

Expert Opinion
Meetings mean vigilance

The latest waves of terror to hit peaceful destinations, including Sousse in Tunisia this week, where up to 30 tourists are thought to have been killed, has provided a strong reminder of the importance of security to our profession.
Kuwait and France also suffered attacks in a week that is 10 years on almost to the week of the 7/7 attacks in London.
British Prime Minister David Cameron has urged us to become more “intolerant of intolerance” and said we are now in “the struggle of our generation” against a “poisonous death cult”.
Such rhetoric would normally jar on the ears for most sober minded people. However, is there really any more time for complacency?
Those of in our meetings industry involved in organising conferences globally for large numbers of delegates must take on a bigger responsibility than usual for sourcing a suitable destination and find some answers to the big question of how to ensure we meet safely.
If ROI and value have long dominated lists of priority factors in venue selection, then security must surely be inserted today as the No.1 issue above all others.
Although a recent trip I made Stateside to a major convention venue showed that the centre had plenty of security staff, I can’t say they looked psychologically prepared to stop a terrorist if one had wandered in off the street.
Mostly, these men and women who stand by the doors of such centres appear to me to be masking true levels of unemployment. They did not look fit nor alert.
In the UK, my own home country, although there is heightened security in central London, on the tube and at prominent events and some stations and, possibly, venues, it is still alarmingly easy for anyone to wander into  our great conference halls without being checked or challenged.
It is, I think, a matter of time only before corporates and associations order stricter rules and regulations for their destination and venue sourcing, and they would be right to demand that those serving audiences of any size need to be fully alert to the clear and present danger from Islamist extremists.
It is also not just a matter of physical security checks, but a propaganda war we must all become engaged in to some degree. It is a battle for minds we dare not lose, or we lose our liveliehoods, as well as many innocent lives.