About risk management

Your risk management is a key component of all events. It is basiclly asking, "what could go wrong?" How could we prevent it?"

The list of possible risks is practically endless, but it is essential to all but the simplest event planning. You may be legally liable for negligence if you don't take reasonable care in identifying risks, and something goes seriously wrong.

There are generally up to six stages of risk management:

  1. Define the context in which you operate
  2. Identify risks
  3. Analyze risks and evaluate them in terms of harm and probability
  4. Manage risks by doing something about them
  5. Monitor whether your approach has been successful
  6. Report to your supervisor

Your risk management must be a written document.

It may be done once for a generic kind of simple event, but may need to be reviewed in each planning meeting.

For complex events, it needs a new document each time. To save time and include the lessons from last time, you might be able to update the old version.

Caution: some event managers memorize their entire risk system. Good if you can, but you should still write things down.




Risk management system

Develop a risk management plan

  1. What is your strategic position?
  2. Read and interpret your policy on risk management
  3. Audit your organization to identify risk management context and potential areas of risk.
  4. Analyze organizational capability to reduce/control the likelihood of both incidents and consequences
  5. Write a register of risks, including an assessment of each risk that considers:
    • What is the probability that it could occur?
    • How much harm could it cause if it happened?
  6. Document risk management policies with provisions for training/education of all relevant groups and individuals
  7. Identify access to external specialist assistance within the plan
  8. Establish procedures for on-going identification of risks
  9. Consider cancellation and postponement procedures:
    1. Who will make the decision?
    2. When is the last possible time for cancellation or postponement?
    3. Who must be informed, and how?

Implement the plan

  1. Allocate a percentage of the budget for contingencies
  2. Monitor activities to identify any potential risks as you go. Assess them as you notice them. It is normal to write them down in a risk register whenever possible.
  3. Examine risks in terms of the criteria in the risk management plan
  4. Place risks classified as low/acceptable on a monitor/review watch list
  5. Eliminate unacceptable risks wherever practicable
  6. If you cannot eliminate a risk, mitigate or minimize it according to the risk management plan
  7. Document strategies for risk minimization

Evaluate your risk management

  1. Write a procedure to regularly review your risk management.
  2. Examine activities that do not achieve their objectives or performance outcomes. Find out why there were ineffective. (It could be that the plan did not perform, but could also be that your expectations were unrealistic.)
  3. Analyze near-miss incidents and review the risk management plan reviewed on each occasion




Common risks in event management

The list is practically endless, but you should consider the risk areas below. At the bottom of the page, there are a few separate risk management procedures that may be relevant.

  1. Public relations and adverse publicity
  2. Emergency and public safety risks
    • fire
    • earthquake
    • bombing
    • chemical leak or spill
    • overcrowding in particular places
    • crowd control: riot or brawl
    • illegal entry
    • gate-crashing
    • alcohol and drugs
    • medical emergency
    • equipment failure
    • stage failure or collapse
    • traffic jams and road rage
    • shortage of food and beverage
    • incorrect room set ups
    • incorrect staging
    • faulty technical equipment
    • technical equipment available
    • lack of equipment to for displays and signage
    • inappropriate space at registration areas
    • waiting too long in queues
  3. Staff
    1. Who is responsible for staff-related risks?
    2. Do you need police clearances for anybody?
    3. What if staff fail to show up (e.g. sick?)
    4. Is there a possibility of staff disputes?
  4. Industry-related risks (e.g. the main risks in the music industry are scaffolding, temporary cabling, and loud noise.)
  5. Security risks (e.g. theft of goods or intellectual property)
  6. Special risks related to children (e.g. boredom, getting lost, assault, sickness)
  7. Special risks related to other special needs groups (elderly, disabled)
  8. Advertising. If advertising is circulated before it is agreed upon, then you may be advertising falsely.
  9. Financial risks:
    1. Agreed funding failing to materialize
    2. Incorrect estimates of income
    3. Incorrect estimates of costs
    4. Theft
    5. Vandalism
    6. Bad debts
    7. Supplier's non-performance
  10. Legal risks
    1. Liability risks from accidents, lateness, spoilt food, etc. (duty of care)
    2. observance of local, state and federal regulations
    3. Dealing with people who might not comply with their contracts
    4. Loopholes in contracts
    5. If you have locked the event in by contract, the possibility of cancellation or major change has been reduced. As an event manager, that is one of your biggest risks. But could they still get out of their commitments? If so, what compensation is due to you?
    6. Your contract commits you to supply certain services? What could prevent you from doing so?
  11. Insurance risks:
    1. How will a claim affect your premium?
    2. What kinds of incidents might not clearly be covered by your insurance?
    3. What kinds of documented policies, procedures and training do you have in place to maximize your ability to successfully make a major claim if something goes wrong?
    4. What kinds of incidents could affect your ability to get insurance in the future?
  12. Any other kinds of risks:
    • weather conditions (Get information on usual weather conditions and times of sunrise and sunset)
    • personnel (being late or sick or exhibiting behavior problems)
    • catering
    • change of board members
    • number of registrations or pre-sold tickets
    • numbers fluctuating from expected, either much lower or higher
    • equipment breakdowns
    • cancellation of venue booking (e.g. double-booked by mistake)
    • facilities being unready
    • other factors outside the control of the organisation
    • etc.
  13. Risks relating to crowds may include:
    • overcrowding
    • crowd stress
    • mob behavior
    • protection of participants
    • protection of performers
    • traffic flows
    • mosh pit crowds
    • areas of congestion (e.g. queues, entry ways)
    • emergency access of services
  14. Other risk factors may involve:
    • human error
    • presentation of the act
    • stage construction
    • venue facilities
    • physical safety of performers
    • physical safety of venue staff
    • physical safety of audience
    • liability of presenter, venue and other parties
    • commercial factors
    • marketing and promotion
    • acts of nature
  15. Crises may involve:
    • venue problems
    • equipment difficulties
    • riot
    • illness
    • drugs and alcohol
    • natural events
    • contractual difficulties
    • absence of performers or crew
    • traffic
    • communication


Risk management

See separate areas for: Crowd control | Emergencies