Securing Your Entrances and Exits

Before you leave to go on vacation do you make sure that everything is safe and secure on the inside of your house but leave the doors and windows unlocked and open?  

Unless you want to invite criminals and nature into your home while you are away, the correct answer would be…

That would be counterproductive and would make for a bummer of a homecoming.

Without first securing the outside, the inside is left exposed.

It’s letting the problem inside, instead of preventing it in the first place.

When dealing with trade show security, we can focus so much on how to secure areas of the show floor, the most vulnerable places, like entries and exits, can be overlooked.

When it comes to trade show safety, secure the outside first, then work your way to the inside.  

From The Outside-In

To make this feel less overwhelming, let’s break up the areas of concern and address ways to make them safe for everyone.  


Many convention centers will have their own policies and procedures regarding the loading and unloading of docks.  That doesn’t mean that you shouldn’t come up with your own plans that mirror the policies of the venue while adding in your own common sense rules for contractors, exhibitors, and other event staff to follow.

The docks are a very busy place.  Large semi trucks and personal vehicles go in and out, while loading and unloading can happen at a frenetic pace.  It can easily become chaotic while security tries to keep track of who is coming and going.

Dock coordinators and security personnel are usually provided by the convention center to help guide the process.  While their presence is helpful, it’s advisable to hire additional security, like off-duty police officers to help provide an extra layer of security.  People tend to take police presence with a higher degree of sobriety then part-time security officers.

Some things to consider when coming up with a complementary plan for dock protocol are:

  • Have your General Contractor relay the venue dock protocol to the freight management company that is being utilized.
  • Vendors, like concessions and floral, also need to be made aware of proper procedures since they will also need access to the docks.  Coordinate with the dock personnel so they know when to expect their arrival.
  • Exhibitors are often allowed a maximum amount of time to unload.  Larger pieces, like machinery and other heavy equipment, might require more time to load and the use of additional equipment like elevators, forklifts, and or dollys.  All security personnel should be aware of what is being loaded and unloaded and when. This avoids confusing suspicious activity with legitimate activity.
  • Exhibitors sometimes disregard protocol and park their personal vehicles and unload in areas that are not meant for them.  Having extra security to enforce the rules can help keep this problem in check.
  • Security staff should always be on patrol, even during periods when loading/unloading is not occurring.  This includes during the show.
  • Staff is to be discouraged from walking around semi trucks.  It clogs up the docks and is a safety concern.


Before the show, you need to figure out how many entrances and which ones you want to utilize during the event.  This will probably depend on the number of attendees you are expecting to attend. You also need to decide whether everyone has access to all designated entries or if you want to include a special entry for V.I.P guests.  

Your security team for the outside and inside of the building should also include police officers.  The cost should be about the same as building security and officers are thoroughly trained to manage security, safety, and flow.  Assign members of your security team to the specific entry that they will be guarding throughout the event.

It is recommended for safety reasons, to check tickets before attendees gain access to the building.  If it’s a public event, not all attendees will have a ticket beforehand, so make sure to accommodate those purchasing tickets the day of the event.  Extra precautions, such as surveillance cameras and metal detectors at main entry points are never a bad idea.


There are a few small things you can do to help security and staff know who are legitimately allowed to be in the show areas.  It doesn’t take much effort to implement the following:

The color of the wristband or badge should change every day.  If someone is wearing a yellow band, but today’s issued color is orange, security knows to question their presence.

Badges specific to personnel, which would include:

  • Hired vendors.
  • Trade show decorator.
  • Cleaning detail (the staff that is part of the moving in process of the show).
  • Exhibitors registered with the show.
  • Exhibitor Appointed Contractor (EAC), who should also have insurance and credentials on file for quick reference.
  • Maintenance staff, such as electrical, building, janitorial.  Proper uniforms may be used to identify their status in lieu of badges.


It can be tempting to question how much security is really required because most of the time it can feel like overkill.  Security and risk management expert, Robbie Sinclair, argues that “security is always excessive until it’s not enough.”

There is a delicate balance between making everyone safe, while not making them feel like they are relinquishing personal liberty.  It’s a space that isn’t always comfortable but is required.