There’s a lot that goes into pulling off a successful event. For the most part, the hardest work goes on behind the scenes, long before your guests set foot in the venue. And a lot of the details that seem minor (and as a result, are overlooked), are the details which can sabotage your entire event.

Technical requirements – two words that instil dread into the heart of almost every event planner – are one of these crucial minor details that, when you really get down to it, aren’t so minor after all.

Let’s set the scene with a flashback to an event we were once involved in:

Our client had requested that we erect a bedouin tent on the balcony of the venue: a high-rise building. After getting the thumbs up from the managing company, we were all systems go. As our team stepped into the elevator – so did the client’s logistics engineer. An encounter which can only be described as serendipitous ensued: he informed us that the balcony could not, in fact, support the weight of a bedouin tent. Had we not crossed paths, over 200 guests would have plunged to their death.

The moral of the story? The devil is in the (technical) details.

In order to ensure your guests, and staff, aren’t at risk of a structural failure at your next event, it’s crucial that you include the following in your event planning checklist:

  • Familiarise yourself with the National Building Regulations for Temporary Structures , as well as the Rigging Guidelines for Ladders and Scaffolding.
  • Always ensure that you obtain written permission from the building’s architect prior to setting up any sort of structure.
  • Ask for the building’s engineering certificate and have it examined by a certified structural engineer.
  • Conduct a safety assessment of your venue with a certified structural engineer.
  • Draw up a Disaster Management Plan. This serves as a critical legal safeguard should any accident or structural failure occur.

It’s your responsibility to check, check and check again that all safeguards are in place, and that you’ve done your due diligence. As I’m so fond of saying (for this very reason), when it comes to technical compliance, assume nothing.

Make sure you’re equipped to give your guests a professional event experience – from start to finish – by downloading our free ebook, below.

Service Level Agreements (SLA) aren’t generic, instead, they’re dictated by the specifics of each unique event. Organising a corporate event that requires having all of your ducks in a row. An SLA is one of the most important requirements to ensure that your vendors (caterers, décor providers, and technical providers) deliver on their expected products or services. Without an SLA in place, you run the risk of being held liable for the vendor’s inability to do their job properly. This could range from a shortage of food, to more dire consequences like fire or theft. Not only will you be financially liable, but legally liable too – and in the event of a disaster or non-delivery of a service, this can have grave consequences for your clients and your reputation.

It’s all well and good to be aware that you need an SLA, but knowing how to go about drawing one up can be a whole other kettle of fish.

All SLAs are drawn up around a standard template, consisting of six section that detail the nature of services required, the timeframe they’re expected to be delivered within, and the consequences of a service provider’s failure to do so. While this main outline remains fixed regardless of the type of event and services required, the information contained therein will differ.

All SLAs contain six sections, namely:

1.Agreement Overview
Details the two parties entering into a Service Level Agreement (SLA), the nature of service required and the period of time the agreement is valid for. For example, “This document represents a SLA between The RSVP Agency and Vendor X for the provision of catering for Brand Y’s Annual Golf Day.

2. Goals & Objectives
This section of an SLA states that the objective of the SLA is to ensure that both parties are in mutual agreement of the services required, as well as their individual responsibilities.

3. Stakeholders
Details the stakeholders entering into a Service Level Agreement. In the case of a corporate event, this would be the corporate event planner or company, and the vendor or vendors in question.

4. Periodic Review
This section details the agreed upon dates that the services rendered will be reviewed. This could be just before the event starts, as well as the day after. The onus falls on the event planner or company to perform this review.

5. Service Agreement
This is undoubtedly the most important section of an SLA, detailing:

  • The scope of work required (for example, technical set up to be completed by XXX)
  • Customer requirements (i.e.: the events company – payment of services and reasonable availability during the time the services are to be rendered.)

Service provider requirements (for example, to meeting deadlines set out in the SLA, as well as sufficient communication with the event planner for the duration of the event)

Service assumptions (this states that any changes to the services required will be efficiently communicated to the vendor).

6.Service Management
The last section of an SLA covers:

Service Availability – This details the times the vendor needs to be available, and specifies the methods of communication they will use to keep in touch with the events company or planner, as well as their required location at specific times.

For example, if an SLA is between you and a Health and Safety officer, this section will state that they need to be on-site at such and such a time, as well as the times that their services will be required off-site, and the channels of communication they need to use (ie: cell phone or email)

Service Requests – This details the time-frames that the service provider is expected to respond to service-related queries or incidents.

In the case of a Health and Safety Office, this could be within 10 minutes in the case of an emergency, or within 24 hrs in the case of a post-event breakdown.

Every single event comes with its own challenges, which means that an SLA should detail any and all eventualities that could possibly occur during the event.

If you’re holding a Gala Dinner at a five-star hotel, for example, you wouldn’t require a health and safety inspection, nor would you require the services of a caterer. If you’re holding an event in an remote area that requires transporting guests to the venue, you’ll need to use a shuttle service, whose SLA will detail aspects such as insurance, emergency procedures and driver authentication.

Without an SLA in place between you and all of your service providers, you’re skating on thin ice.

We recently held an event in the middle of the bush. At the end of the evening, our décor provider was supposed to come back on-site and extinguish all the lanterns and candles. However, upon waking, we were contacted by the venue to say that all of the lanterns were still alight – in the middle of a game reserve! This situation could have been incredibly disastrous had a fire broken out. Not only would we have been responsible for the damage cause to the venue, but for the loss of life of any wildlife too. This close shave highlights the fact that having a water-tight, exhaustive SLA in place is non-negotiable.

Image Credit: Inspiring Woman

There’s been a lot of talk in the corporate events industry lately about the ramifications of the impending POPI (Protection of Personal Information Act). Besides a hefty fine of R10 million or ten years in jail, businesses who don’t comply with the act will tarnish their reputations in the process.

Getting used to the new law may take some time, but there’s no doubt that event planning companies who fail to comply will lose out on business as clients seek out events agencies who are compliant.

That said, translating the act into actionable steps can be tricky, due to the ill-understanding of the information contained therein. We’ve deciphered the eight conditions that are relevant to event planning companies in an effort to shed some light on the new laws.

Condition 1: Accountability

The first condition that event planners are required to adhere to states: “(the) Responsible party to ensure conditions for the lawful processing of information”

This means that event planning companies and their employees who handle personal information must make sure that their handling of this information is in accordance to the Act. Those who process this data (in this case, the events company in question) are required to accept responsibility and be accountable for the way in which they handle this information

Condition 2: Processing Limitation

This condition concerns the way in which information is dealt with. Personal information, like a guest’s contact information, is only allowed to be processed if the processing procedure (for example, the sending out of an invitation) is “adequate, relevant and not excessive”. This means that companies are not allowed to bombard individuals with information, nor send them material with is not relevant. Importantly, the data subject (in the case, a guest) may object and withdraw their consent to the handling of personal details at any time if it’s being used in such a way that’s in breach of the Act.

If you’re inviting guests to a corporate dinner, all of your communication with them needs to solely revolve around the event concerned. Using their contact details to send them newsletters about your company, or promotional mail about anything other than the event they’re invited to, is illegal.

This condition also dictates that any personal information must be obtained directly from the individual in question, unless they have made this data available in the public sphere. For example, a guest’s email address for a guest that they’ve included on their LinkedIn profile.

Condition 3: Purpose Specification

Any information that you collect, from an email address or dietary preference, may only be obtained for “a specific, explicitly defined and lawful purpose relating to a function or activity of the responsible party”.

In addition, the retention of this information is subject to various stipulations included in the Act. Condition

4: Further Processing Limitation

This condition stipulates that any further use of any personal information must be in accordance with the purpose it was originally collected for. In other words, events planning companies may use information about a guest if it’s for a follow-up survey about an event, but not if it’s to promote your company.

Condition 5: Information Quality

In the case of event planning companies, this applies to any data collected during the RSVP process. In addition, the POPI act stipulates that this information needs to be updated when necessary in order to remain accurate and safeguard against any ambiguity.

Condition 6: Openness Guests

(referred to as the “data subject”) need to be made aware of the purpose that their information is being collected and the onus of this is on the events agency. Therefore, if you’re given a list of people to invite to an event, it’s crucial that either you or the client has notified the guests as to why their information is being shared.

Condition 7: Security Safeguards

Personal information is valuable currency, which means that companies need ensure that they take the necessary precautions in order to secure this data. Events companies deal with vast amounts of information about their guests, which means that adequate attention must be given to its protection.

Ensure that you’re using a closed intranet or content management system that is secure in order to avoid third parties gaining access to it.  In the event that the security of your guests’ information does become compromised, then the said guest must be notified immediately.

Condition 8: Data Subject

Participation According to the POPI Act, guests may enquire as to whether the events agency is in possession of their information. In addition, they are lawfully able to ask what personal information the company has of theirs. The POPI Act stipulates that they may ask – at any time – that this data is either corrected, or deleted if it is excessive, inaccurate or irrelevant.

There are various other stipulations that are outlined in full in the Act. We suggest that event companies familiarise themselves with the intricacies of the POPI Act, and how it will impact them. For more information, read the document in full here.

Image Credit: HDI

Creating and managing a professional corporate event entails myriad elements – each just as important as the next. You may have the perfect venue, a guest list that’s filled with VIPs and catering courtesy of a world-class chef, but if you’re not au fait with the correct event compliance procedure, you could end up with a disaster on your hands.

It’s the event planner’s responsibility to ensure the wellbeing of guests, as well as your staff. If you’re unfamiliar with event compliance best practice, it’s high time you equip yourself with this crucial knowledge. It’s essential that you’re up to speed with event compliance guidelines – planners who aren’t put their clients, their guests, and themselves in grave danger. Event compliance is an incredibly detailed undertaking, and it’s impossible to cover it all in one blog. We’ve compiled an overview of what this process involves.

Event compliance entails eight main aspects of safety.

When organising an event, it’s of paramount importance that you include the following eight areas of safety considerations: General Safety and Fire Prevention; National Building Regulations for Temporary Structures; Safe Working Practices; Gas/and or Naked Flame Application and Usage; Electrical Procedures and Requirements; Rigging Guidelines; Ladders and Scaffolding; Liability and Insurance.

Before you begin organising an event, a safety assessment of your venue needs to be conducted.

Picking a venue and then neglecting to inspect it for possible health and safety hazards isn’t only neglectful, it’s unlawful too. If you’re planning on building a temporary structure like a tent or stage, safety hazards need to be evaluate by both the organiser and contractor. Once the site and potential dangers have been identified, you’ll be able to draw up a plan that details procedures that need to be taken should an incident occur.

The most essential element of event compliance is a Disaster Management Plan

Every single event has to have a Disaster Management Plan in place. This needs to be approved by the local Disaster Management Centre (DMC) as well as the Local Fire Safety Officer. This should detail your emergency procedure plan that takes the health and safety of organisers, contractors, suppliers, exhibitors and visitors into account. In addition, your Disaster Management Plan should cover aspects including: temporary structures, environmental health, rigging, fire equipment, structural engineer certificates (read our blog about why this is crucial) and gas and fire retardant items.

An event Disaster Management Plan must include items on the South African National Standards (SANS) 10366: Standard for Live Events. This specifies the minimum requirements that a person or organisation organising an event needs to adhere to.

All aspects of your event compliance procedures need to be documented.

This includes written proof that your contractors, suppliers and vendors have the necessary training, expertise and experience. Every single person who has been hired – from your caterers to your structural engineers – need to ensure that they’re not only competent, but will conduct themselves in such a way that their health and safety and that of their peers will not be compromised. In addition, all role players need to be aware of their responsibilities regarding health and safety, as well as the ramifications that will ensue should they neglect this duty. Lastly, contractors must also be informed as to how all aspects of health and safety will be monitored and managed on-site.

It’s essential that all role-players are involved in the planning of your health and safety guidelines in order to ensure complete event compliance. It’s an event manager’s duty to make sure that all of the above is clearly communicated with everyone involved in the organisation and management of an event. Event compliance entails countless considerations, regulations and best practices. To ensure that you’re aware of what full event compliance entails, read the full SANS 10366 legislature here.

Image Credit: One Solution