Expect the Unexpected When You least Expect it!
© Written by Alan CROWTHER CCTP BA(Hons) Econ, Senior Consultant MSS
The saying “expect the unexpected when you least expect it” is well known but how many of us have experienced it? I know I have on more than one occasion with an annual trade fair and a K-Pop concert the details of which are outlined below.
During my time as a Head of Venue and Event Security at one of South East Asia’s largest concert and exhibition venues I often dealt with annual trade fairs which involved the whole venue being block booked for 5 days with up to 1000+ exhibition booths which necessitated the deployment of up to 500 security guards on a daily basis. The trade show I am discussing took place during one of the hottest times of year when the outdoor temperatures reached 33C-36C and temperatures inside the halls in the venue were just as hot. The setting up of the booths for the event takes place in halls that are not air conditioned until the set-up is finished and the air conditioning is only turned on during the middle of the night so that the halls are cooled comfortably for the start of the trade show.
AT the start of the trade fair I was informed by the security guard provider that they had a pool of security guards amounting to 10% of the daily total on standby just in case some of the guards on duty took sick or were late for duty as well as other reasons should the need arise. The pool amounted to some 50 guards who were either on site or could reach the site within 1 hour. I soon welcomed being informed of the reserve pool of guards when my venue security as well as service planning and delivery and business development staff where hurriedly gathered and dispatched to check the air conditioning in the halls as many complaints had been received from all over the venue that it was uncomfortably hot. It soon became apparent that the complaints were justified as I became hot and sweaty walking around the halls which wasn’t supposed to happen.
The CEO soon called for a meeting to ascertain what was the problem and what could be done to make things better as it was obvious that the event could not continue if the temperature in the halls was not made more bearable. During the meeting I was put on the spot and asked how many more guards I could obtain in the next 30mins to ensure doors used to enter the venue were not held open for longer than they were needed and to close doors immediately if they were left open to ensure that what air conditioning there was didn’t escape through open doors. I immediately answered I could get an additional 30 guards straight away and was asked to ensure that they were available for the whole show and properly supervised. The security guard provider was happy to receive the additional order and 15 guards each were dispatched to the East and West entrance points. Other measures taken was to have catering and service planning and delivery go round the halls with cooled drink trolleys containing cold drinks and cold hand towels to give out to booth operators free of charge not to mention the buying of small portable table top fans for all booths. Facilities management were tasked to try and fix the air conditioning as quickly as possible however this was not possible in the short term and as a result almost the entire stock of giant air conditioners in Hong Kong were rented and placed in the halls. Numerous truck loads of ice were also suggested however the trucks could not get close enough to the air conditioning ponds and so this action was cancelled. The purchase of small table top fans was so successful that the entire stock of available table top fans in Hong Kong was purchased by the venue from every available source!
Over the five days things improved however temperatures were still hot but not unpleasant. The additional guards ordered turned up every day and worked like clockwork closing doors immediately they were no longer needed to be opened with only one group of smokers at the only smoking area not happy that the venue doors near where the smoking area was situated were not being left open meaning they couldn’t enjoy a smoke while enjoying the aircon. I myself lost count of how many times I checked the entrance door guards but I reckon only just more than the CEO!
I must admit that when I started working at one of South East Asia’s largest concert and exhibition venues I hadn’t fully grasped how popular K-Pop groups were not just in Asia but all around the world. I soon learnt after my first two or three K-Pop concerts how fanatical and pumped up the fans were especially the standing zone fans. About 8 months into my tenure I was told by business development that I could expect trouble in respect of the fans of one particular very popular K-Pop group who were going to have a sold out concert in three weeks times. They further stated that the trouble was because of the arrangements for a fans to meet the group competition that had only used a Mainland website which meant only fans living in the Mainland could access it. Apparently this had incensed many none Mainland fans and social media was full of negative comments as well as calls for some radical action to be taken to show the fans frustration! It was believed that the most likely action would be a sit in at the end of the show however I wasn’t convinced as this would mean that the K-Pop group would already had gone off stage and be half way to their hotels with the only inconvenience being caused to the fans. This would in fact be a home goal which I didn’t believe.
The concert night arrived and all duties were informed to be highly vigilant to unusual fan gatherings and behaviour that could possible disrupt the concert however the normal influx of fans proceeded as normal. Concert screening had gone well and when I heard that the band would be on stage in five minutes there were only 400-500 fans still being processed at the screening location which I knew could enter the concert hall in time. Normally before the band takes to the stage their production crew would lower the house lights to almost pitch blackness which they did and then it happened there was a tremendous scaping noise and shouting from the concert hall which when the lights had been turned back on revealed that a complete seated section had been transformed into over turned chairs with aisle seats being flung to the middle of the section with even more seats having their seat numbers ripped off. It soon became apparent that 200-300 concert patrons could not take their seats and the K-Pop tour security stated that the band would not take to the stage before all fans were seated. This required the unseated fans to be taken to an adjacent hall while facility management turned out their porters to rearrange the disrupted seating into neat rows all properly numbered while the rest of the nearly 8000 fans were kept entertained by the concert MC. The whole process took an hour to complete before the group took to the stage and there after no further radical action took place.
It is of note that special arrangements with the train and bus operators had to be made to ensure all fans could leave the site which obviously they agreed to despite all train stations down the line having to extend their opening times as well as working hours. The group appeared the following year and because of the disruption caused the year before extra special security arrangements had to be put in place to ensure there was no repeat performance however that is another story!
All rights reserved. October 2020. English version only.
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