You’re following all the steps to plan the perfect event. You’re venue shopping and designing invitations, all while sticking to your budget. But is event security part of your planning process? Or, more importantly, should it be? For an at-home birthday party, or NYE dinner at a restaurant, security personnel isn’t necessary. You likely know and trust, your guests. Plus, there isn’t a big enough crowd to be a danger in the event of an emergency—even in the restaurant.
But once you start hosting events with large crowds in unfamiliar places, there’s more room for chaos and confusion. Event security is your protection against that chaos and confusion. Personnel will be placed inside and outside of your venue, for attendee protection and your peace of mind. You may need security personnel around the edge of the crowd, at all entrances and exits, or even walking around the event. Use this guide to help you determine whether you need event security—and then start looking for an agency near you.
Benefits of Event Security
Ultimately, event security helps both attendees and hosts feel at ease. Attendees can focus on the speaker or performer, and safely walk around to visit booths or exhibits. In fact, a 2015 study discovered that almost 30% of event attendees feel safer when they see security personnel. They also know who to approach if they feel unsafe or notice something unusual. Otherwise, attendees may leave if they feel nervous and can’t find any security.
As a planner, hiring security lets you focus on day-of tasks. Without a security team in place, small issues can escalate quickly because no one is there to diffuse the situation. This, of course, is dangerous for anyone at the event—attending or working. And in the long run, any future events might have lower attendance rates, or be cancelled. Thankfully, that can be avoided with event security!
Know Your Audience
As we’ve established, there are many benefits to having security at your event. But that doesn’t mean you need security. Before making a final decision, consider your audience. How well do you know them? Have you hosted an event with them before?
Bonus Tip: Event security is prepared for the unpredictable. The less you know your audience, the more you need security.
If you’re planning the fifth annual office party—and the other four were worry free—you can probably skip the event security. But if you’re opening up a ticketed event to the public, add event security to your budget—no matter how small your audience is.
In general, events with fewer than 20 people don’t need security—for two reasons. First, it’s easy to keep track of a small number of people, and everyone is likely to stay in the same general area. Second, there’s less risk of large-scale panic or chaos ensuing with only 20 people. It can still happen, and hiring security isn’t a bad idea. But it might not be necessary.
The biggest exception to the under-20 rule is alcohol. While responsible alcohol use is rarely an issue, just one over-indulging attendee can ruin the whole party. At very least, consider two security guards to make sure attendees don’t drink too much. And, if they do, let them quietly handle the individual—so you don’t have to disrupt the event yourself.
Event security is often associated with public events, like music festivals or sporting events. And while those events certainly need layers of security (keep reading to see why!), private events aren’t that different. Private events with a strict guest list—like office parties or charity dinners—still need security, especially if that guest list is long. However, the type of security is different.
Typically, a musical performance requires gated security, ticket check-in, and barriers for lines. But your black-tie affair won’t have any lines, and it might not have any tickets, either! Instead, you’ll need security personnel at the main entrance to keep the public from entering, and a simple bag check.
Every large-scale event should have security. That’s not surprising for massive concerts with 80,000+ attendees. But crowds of 50 people or more need security, too. Fifty people might not seem like a lot, especially compared to 80,000! But it’s still large enough for a situation to quickly get out of hand. For any large event—and especially those open to the public—consult with a security agency. They will know how much personnel you’ll need, where you put security checks, and general guidelines to follow leading up to the big day.
If you’re ever in doubt about hiring event security—do it! You can’t be too cautious when it comes to the safety of your attendees. Of course, chances are it will be a fun and safe event. But it’s always better to be prepared, just in case. Don’t forget to add security as part of your event budget, though! If you don’t know how much to budget for, reach out to a local security agency for some guidelines. For large, public events, your local police may be able to provide security or recommendations.
Do you feel safer with event security? Do you think it’s necessary for smaller events?