Trade Show Risk ManagementNo matter how diligently you try or how much experience you have it is impossible to plan for everything that could happen during the event process. Risk Management means planning as well as you can for accidents, unplanned situations, safety, security, loss prevention, and more. Further, Risk Management in general is the process of identifying, measuring, and controlling risk. Trade show risk management is the responsibility of the show sponsor, as well as individual exhibitors.

For every event you enter, the trade show sponsor will provide an exhibitor kit/handbook. Sometimes, there is little or nothing in those materials that discusses the insurance policy and coverage amounts that the show sponsor has purchased. Do they hold a cancellation policy that ensures your entry deposit/fee will be refunded if the show is cancelled? Do they have liability coverage? Exactly what insurance does the show sponsor have, and what is covered, and for how much money? It is the exhibitor s right to know this information, so press the sponsor to provide it.

For every trade show event, the exhibitor is required to show a Certificate of Insurance (COI) when enrolling in the event. In spite of the sponsor s event insurance policy and what it covers, you must play it safe by carrying private event insurance. Typically the exhibitor is required at the very minimum to carry $1-million in liability insurance (for each occurrence). It is so true that accidents do happen at events. People slip and fall. People are hurt by products or have allergic reactions. Display exhibits regularly fall damaging other exhibitor s property and occasionally hurting someone. The best business practice is for everyone who attends an event to be responsible for their own acts and products by having insurance in place to handle the common claims that arise ( There are companies that provide up to $2-million in coverage for under $100, for a one-day event. It definitely pays to do methodical research in this matter.

Another aspect of Risk Management at the trade show is security and safety. The venue (event sponsorship) should provide general security, including crowd control and such. Once again, it is the exhibitor s right to know what the sponsorship is providing in the matter of security. It is also smart to know things like:

  • Is the location of the show accessible and considered safe?
  • Is the building structure sound?
  • Is there adequate professional security and support provided by the venue?
  • Does the venue security check people as they enter the show?
  • What types of equipment are in place for security?
  • Where are the emergency exits? Are they relatively close to your booth location?
  • Does the building have safety equipment (sprinklers, fire extinguishers, smoke alarms, etc.)?
  • If there is a problem, is there a representative of the sponsorship easily available for help?
  • How likely is it that your products will be stolen, pilfered, or damaged through mishandling?
  • Do you know if there are any other exhibitors whose products might be considered unsafe?
  • Can your booth staff handle the volume of people who will visit your display?
  • Can you readily protect your products and display-related property?
  • Have you ensured that electrical cords and wiring are not trip or shock hazards?
  • Have you double checked your booth structure for overall safety?

Although there is more to consider related to Risk Management in a trade show, the final item of this article is loss prevention and proactivity. Largely, this means training of your staffing in Risk Management, security, safety, and loss prevention. Train your personnel to watch for questionable situations and people. Be proactive against the potential for any loss. Perhaps it is best to examine your entire exhibit in terms of assets and liabilities. How easily can an asset become a liability?

In closing, it is all too easy for newbies to trade shows to overlook or simply ignore Risk Management principles and requirements. Carrying event insurance is only the first step. Security is perhaps the second consideration. And inclusive safety, loss prevention, and training are a close third in Risk Management matters. It is, however, impossible to prioritize these concerns because they are all equally important in keeping your event profitable and without negative incident. Yes, accidents and other damaging happenings can and will occur. It is, however, your responsibility as an exhibitor to cover as many bases in Risk Management as possible.


# Jerry 2017-09-03 19:12
An interesting discussion is definitely worth comment. I do believe that
you should write more about this issue, it may not be a taboo subject but usually folks don't speak about
such topics. To the next! Kind regards!!

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