Crowd Management. Two small words; one big responsibility. It’s a term every event planner happens to be familiar with. An event’s tour de force is always the audience that turns up.The more the people at an event, the more likely it's considered to be a success. Although more often than not, a large gathering in a compact space out to have the time of their lives can be a recipe for disaster. Everything can go downhill in the blink of an eye if one isn’t prepared.
‘Crowd Management’ or ‘Crowd Control’ in layman’s terms, is when crowds are so managed that everyone has a good time, guaranteeing an event’s success. Any event at any venue – stadium or arena, conference center or airport, mall or amusement park requires crowd control measures. You wouldn’t be the first, and definitely not the last to get nervous at the thought of handling crowds; particularly if an event happens to be on the larger scale. So, how does one handle crowd control issues? We’ve got you covered with a list of techniques to consider and incorporate into an effective crowd control management plan:
1.Getting your permits in place - First concern: Assess the venue and get all your necessary permits in place. Remember, you get the green light only when all valid permits have been signed, sealed and delivered by the authorities in charge.
2.Coordinate with your local law enforcement - Once you’ve gotten the go ahead, make sure your number one priority is coordinating with law enforcement officials. Liaise with the traffic police to cordon off certain routes to avoid clogging up traffic. Trust us, you don’t want to be cursed into oblivion by tired, angry commuters; puts a dampener on things. You can also never go wrong by having an ample police presence and paramedics on standby.
3.Construct makeshift barriers - While some areas need to be cordoned off to allow traffic flow, there are times when barriers are needed inside the venue too. There’s the VIP Area that’s closed off from us ordinary mortals. Sometimes it could just be a case of routine maintenance, cleaning, or renovation. Whatever the case, you can always choose from several options like retractable belts, turnstiles, swing gates, banners, panels etc to control the ebb and flow of large crowds.
4.Crystal clear Signposting - Unless it’s a frequent visitor or a human GPS, most people tend to be totally confused when it comes to what’s what and what’s where. Even a large, open space like an outdoor arena, with a rock concert going on, may seem like strange and unfamiliar territory unless you know where you’re going. As event planners, we need to see to it that there are clear signs displaying the proper information. This could be a seating chart showing the number of rows, the aisle numbers, bathrooms, water fountains, concession stands, lobbies, refreshment areas, checkouts, seating and waiting lounges, and so on. Having a clearly audible public address system in place is also an added benefit.
5.Managing an unruly crowd - More often than not, the presence of a large group of impatient, tired, or overly excited people means mounting tensions and flared tempers. Add liquor to the mix, and you have a ticking time bomb just waiting to go off. Distracting the crowd is often the best thing you can do, before someone ends up with a black eye and your event ends up being blacklisted. Try playing highlight reels or some entertaining videos on the screens set up across the venue. You could also have stalls selling merch like T-shirts, signed mugs, magnets etc.
6.Rapid deployment in case of emergencies - Even the most well oiled plans must deal with annoying blips. These could be anything from a power outage to public outrage, lost possessions and alarmingly even a lost child, health scares, security threats etc. Expect the unexpected by having rapid-to-deploy crowd control situations on hand. There must be emergency personnel stationed at key areas, while staff members should remain alert too. Also see to it that the right tools and equipment are easily accessible at a moment’s notice.
Whatever the event; whether it's concerts or music festivals, stand-up comedy shows or cultural exhibitions; everything needs to be adequately manned. Crowd control is not something you take lightly. Just make sure you have a well maintained environment, prepared for the smallest glitch or the biggest disaster.