The International Entertainment Buyers Association conference is set to kick off this weekend in Nashville. From Sept. 30 to Oct. 2 at the JW Marriott, industry professionals will gather to discuss the most pressing issues, best practices and showcase up and coming talent.
The annual conference will discuss recording, ticketing, booking, promoting and more. On Oct. 2, BOK Center’s general manager Jeff Nickler will lead an important panel on the always pressing issue security. With panelists who cover arenas, festivals and theaters, Nickler will delve into the evolving security measures that need to be taken, future threats and who a venue’s biggest assets are.
“We are talking about some meaningful things that venues and events can do to engage their frontline staff and to elevate safety and security for their events. It will be focusing on ways to expand the perimeter around venues,” Nickler tells Amplify. “As the Las Vegas shooting has shown us, people who want to do harm are now focusing on the areas outside of our current security perimeters using automobiles, etc.”
Nickler will be joined by Rachel Bomeli from the Fox Theatre Atlanta, Bredan Buckley from Nationwide Arena and Schottenstein Center and Carl Monzo from National Event Services, which handles event staffing and security for festivals like Bonnaroo and Electric Forest. The group will discuss the precautions that have been put into motion since a gunmen killed over 50 people at the Route 91 Harvest Festival in Las Vegas last year.
“We are going to talk about what we feel are the emerging threats,” Nickler says, explaining that drones are a major looming issue for outdoor events. “We’re also going to talk from the venue side about what venues are planning on for future capital investments for security. Do they have any specific new technology that they are focusing on that they want to buy and where we are moving to in the future.”
The panel, which will run during one of the many breakout sessions during the conference, will tackle new security concerns at the back of the house too. With more and more artists requiring varied security measures at the back of the house, the panel will look at how to accommodate individual requests throughout the year.
One of the most important issues being addressed on the “It Takes a Community to Protect a Community: 5 Steps to Evolve Your Safety Protocols” panel will be front line staff.
“Our security working these events and our front line staff, which is normally our ticket-takers and ushers, those people are our first line of defense. We are going to be talking about training programs and procedures that actually work,” Nickler says.
“A lot of the time, these people who are being paid minimum wage are our most important security assets,” Nickler adds. “How do we compel these people to stay vigilant during the entire duration of the event? How do we keep them engaged? How do we make them feel empowered? They truly are the key. They are the first face and the last face that people coming to our venues see.”
Nickler says the discussion will close with a slew of information on free resources for event organizers from federal agencies and trade groups.
“I am a venue manager, but I am not naive enough to believe that I know everything about security or even that what we are doing in Tulsa (at the BOK Center) is perfect,” Nickler tells Amplify. “I am under the belief that we always have to evolve and it is imperative for all of us to share best practices. That is what is compelling me to lead this panel.”
Most venue leaders, Nickler explains, don’t come from a law enforcement or security background, so it is essential that they understand the limitations of their knowledge and learn the skills needed to keep their patrons and staff safe.
“We aren’t safety experts, so we have to hire the right people. We have to have the right training programs and we have to make the right capital investments,” Nickler says. “I think by sharing information and discussing best practices, it gives us an advantage.”
For more information on the It Takes a Community to Protect a Community: 5 Steps to Evolve Your Safety Protocols panel and more discussions happening at IEBA, head to their site.