Attendee Safety Takes Precedence Above All Else 

Times Square

Skift Take

There is no more important focus of a meeting or conference than keeping attendees safe and secure. Destination Marketing Organizations can play an important role in ensuring attendee safety.

An association meeting was wrapping up in Providence, RI, this May when the unthinkable happened. An out-of-town delegate in a rideshare was hit by gunfire while the vehicle was at a light outside the Amica Mutual Pavilion. 

The Providence Warwick Convention & Visitor Bureau immediately went into crisis mode, collaborating with the convention center, mayor’s office, and police department. “It’s the kind of thing that can happen anywhere at any time. The delegate survived, and not only is the group returning, but so is the delegate,” said Kristen Adamo, president and CEO of the Providence Warwick CVB. 

Keeping attendees safe and secure is one of the most important objectives of any gathering. Next is communication and the stellar way Adamo and her team communicated about the incident. 

Adamo will share more about this incident at the Skift Meetings Destination Experience Summit.

Destination Perception Issues

San Francisco continues to have a better safety and crime record than ten years ago. However, viral social media moments have helped fuel a skewed perception of the city. Nicole Rogers, executive vice president and chief sales officer of San Francisco Travel Association, knows firsthand how hard the city has worked to counter this narrative. Extensive pre-planning with conference organizers and city officials help ensure a friendly and safe environment. A Welcome Ambassador program is an important part of making attendees feel safe. 

Adamo agrees that social media can be a blessing and, at times, a curse. In her experience, most negativity comes from locals more than outsiders. One way she combats the issue is by writing Op-ed pieces. 

New York City, too, sees perception challenges. However, this is felt more in the local market than overseas. To combat this, New York City has created a public-private partnership that brings together safety leaders together. The NYC Tourism Security Leaders is spearheaded by Kelly Curtin, executive vice president of membership and destination services at New York City Tourism + Conventions. The group includes security professionals from the Javits Center, New York Yankees, Broadway, and Lincoln Center. It was founded in the early days of the Covid pandemic and originally focused on public health and safety protocols. Since then it has expanded to a broader public safety focus. 

New York City has been through its fair share of crises. The terrorist attacks on 9-11 to the bird flu, volcanic ash, and Super Storm Sandy are just a few. As a result, it has an excellent crisis plan in place.

To learn more about how Adamo, Rogers, and Curtin work to ensure a secure and reassuring environment for all event participants, register for the Skift Meetings Destination Experience Summit on August 16 at 11 a.m.