Julia Rutherford Silvers, CSEP

Certified Special Events Professional

Event Management Authority

Like angels and elephants dancing on the head of a pin, our dreams and responsibilities may have no limits, but must be balanced according to the music of the moment.









Updated EMBOK Structure as a Risk Management Framework for Events

28 December 2004

Excerpts from a paper presented at the

2005 Las Vegas International Hospitality and Convention Summit, included in and

reprinted with permission from Risk Management for Meetings and Events (Butterworth-Heinemann, 2008)


Despite the millions of public and private events successfully organized each year, heightened awareness of security and the threat of terrorism have permeated the public consciousness and affect the travel to and staging of events of all types in all locations. Sensational media coverage of mass casualties at night clubs in the United States, sport events in South Africa, rock concerts in Australia and elsewhere, plus numerous civil liability actions against event organizers and facilities (Abbott & Abbott, 2000), the prosecution and conviction of an event organizer in New Zealand for criminal negligence (Grieve, 2003; 2004) and incidents such as the IKEA craze marketing episode in Jeddah, Saudi Arabia (Crowd Dynamics, 2004) illustrates that the event industry is being defined by its disasters. And although communities of practice recognize the importance of risk management as a core competency, few event-specific resources exist to fully prepare and assist event organizers. There is a great deal of guidance on risk management available; not, however, adapted to the unique characteristics and conditions of planned special events, and in its absence, standards of best practice in event risk management are likely to be determined in the courts rather than by the industry.


Risk management for events is recognized as a core competency and responsibility in most event management certification programs and curricula, yet there are limited resources for event organizers in the way of clear, concise, and practical tools that will assist them in managing the exposure to the possibility of loss, damages, or injuries arising from uncertainties that surround their events and event operations. Although there is a plethora of books and information on risk management as a discipline and in other fields, risk management is included only as a section in most event industry books, and the topic, by necessity, is not covered in depth. The Event Management Body of Knowledge (EMBOK) may serve as a holistic framework that, due to its comprehensive and structured nature, provides a logical and systematic approach to the management of the risks surrounding events of all types and sizes.


The initial global EMBOK framework and taxonomy introduced on this web site, based on a comparison of the knowledge systems supporting the event management industry including numerous occupational standards, certification knowledge domains, academic curriculums and literature review, was expanded at the 2004 International EMBOK Imbizo to include five phases, five processes, five core values, and five knowledge domains that encompass 35 function areas. The sequential aspect of the phases and iterative nature of the processes, which are permeated with core values, allows one to approach the functional areas in a comprehensive and systematic manner. This taxonomy facilitates categorizing these functions into modules or fields of study, defining areas of responsibility, and for systematic analyses in a risk management context.

The Processes

It is useful to begin with the process system, which includes assessment, selection, monitoring, communication, and documentation, because this process system and the terminology proposed is based on the widely-accepted process systems, particularly in the risk management field (DOD, 2002; PMI, 2000; Standards Australia, 1999 & others). It is a sequential and iterative system that promotes a dynamic approach to the changing nature of events and the risks that emerge. Risk management must be an on-going and dynamic activity because the risks surrounding meetings and events are constantly emerging, growing, subsiding, changing, and fluctuating in terms of urgency and priority. The risk management process must also be proactive and cyclical — facilitating communication, forecasting, and forward planning.


Assessment is defined as a two-step process of first identification then analysis. Identification is a discovery and definition process in which all the elements in each class or category are considered. The analytical process enhances predictive capabilities and facilitates proper prioritizing by qualifying and quantifying the characteristics of an element or identified risk.

Selection is the decision-making point, choosing the methods or tactics deemed most likely to achieve the goal or objective. Coupled with this decision are the assignment of resources, responsibility, and authority to carry out the tactic selected. The typical tactics in risk management include avoidance, reduction, transference, isolation, and retention.

Monitoring includes the regimented and planned tracking of the progress, status, or conditions of the tactic selected, including the performance of risk control actions, and developing further options and actions as needed by reiterating the assessment and selection processes.

Documentation includes the recording, reporting, maintaining, and archiving of assessments, analyses, response plans, monitoring and control results, and other records and documents, and provides valuable data and important evidence that leads to a robust risk management process.

Communication is a vital component of the process system, which includes timely information acquisition and distribution plus the appropriate consultation in decision-making. It is important to involve the appropriate constituents to achieve a comprehensive assessment and to foster acceptance of and support for the decisions made.


The Phases

The phases illustrate the sequential nature of event management, highlighting the criticality of time in any event project. The phases include initiation, planning, implementation, the event, and closure, and are derived from traditional project management terminology. Effective risk management relies on engagement at each juncture of this continuum throughout the life of the event project, from inception through completion.


Initiation is the phase in which research is conducted and the concept is defined and validated. This is when the scope and context is set, goals and objectives are defined, and the commitment of resources is established. This is also when a commitment to risk management must be instituted.

Planning is the phase wherein the requirements and specifications for the event project are determined, specifying the activities that will occur, how efforts will be organized, the resources that will be required, and the context, conditions, or assumptions that affect the decisions to be made. Risk planning provides the structure for making decisions based on realistic assumptions and accepted methods.

Implementation is the phase when all the goods and services are contracted and coordinated, synchronizing all the operational and logistical requirements of an event project. Risk management techniques are required during this phase to ensure the proper verification and control activities are employed.

The Event is set apart from Implementation as a distinct phase because a different and dynamic approach is required once the production begins. Whilst the above phases have the possibility of go/no-go decisions, once the event begins the only no-go possibility for the event is closure (or cancellation of specific elements or activities included in the event). Risk monitoring and control functions are critical during this phase so that hazards or incidents are responded to in a timely and effective manner.

Closure is the phase in which the event production is shut down, dismantled, and contractual obligations completed. This phase also includes the collection of feedback and the review of actions, activities, and decisions. This information is then evaluated to determine measurements (Return on Investment) or ratings against established criteria (performance critiques), to reveal impacts (economic, environmental, social, and cultural), and to record lessons learned that will facilitate the effective transfer of knowledge to the next event project.


The Core Values

The core values specify those principles that must be applied to all decisions regarding every element, phase, and process to ensure these decisions facilitate successful and sustainable outcomes. It is equally important to infuse all risk management decisions with these same fundamental values.


Creativity is regarded as essential for producing innovative and imaginative solutions and approaches to the challenges and opportunities presented throughout the management of an event project. Employing the qualities of inventiveness, inspiration, artistry, and resourcefulness are particularly important in the event industry.

Strategic Thinking is the ability to view and align an individual project’s needs and methods within the entirety of an enterprise’s short- and long-term goals and objectives in order to maintain a focus on the larger issues and impacts that should be factored into plans and tactics.

Continuous Improvement is a Total Quality philosophy expressed in the Capability Maturity Model that contends an optimized performing organization depends on the continuous and proactive improvement of all procedures, systems, and, it is thereby presumed, the results, rather than relying on reaction-driven planning.

Ethics encompass the judgments and choices made and the actions taken that reflect and enact beliefs of what is right versus wrong. Embedded in most codes of conduct for the event and other industries, these standards guide the decisions, negotiations, and activities in a way that maintains integrity, fairness, and decency.

Integration reflects the critical need to coordinate, synchronize, and merge the variety and multitude of interactions, dependencies, and interconnected elements included in an event project to ensure decisions incorporate all the factors influencing and influenced by those choices. (See also Integration Management and Speaker Integration Example)


The Knowledge Domains and Functional Areas

Each domain represents an overarching area of activity, which may reflect an organizational structure or a modularized category for study and/or analysis. This structure facilitates the development of systems and the documentation required for the disciplined and thorough management of events and the risks surrounding them, as well as the formal, standardized, and predictable systems required for a mature and optimized performing organization capable of continuous diagnostic and prognostic improvement and effective knowledge transfer. But, of prime importance is the illustration of the full scope of the responsibilities, and therefore the risk management obligations, assigned to event organizers.



The Administration domain deals primarily with the proper allocation, direction, and control of the resources used in an event project. Since resources are finite by definition, it is imperative that they be acquired, developed, and utilized in the most efficient and effective manner to benefit the event project and limit its risk.


Financial Management is the development and use of budgets, proper costing and pricing strategies, standard accounting practices, and asset and cash flow management to achieve the financial goals of the event enterprise.

Human Resources Management encompasses the formulation of the appropriate organizational structure, policies, and procedures for the recruitment, orientation, training, compensation, motivation, supervision, and discipline of employees, contracted workers, and volunteers according to applicable employment and labor legalities to provide a suitable and diverse workforce to meet the needs of the event project.

Information Management includes the acquisition, distribution, control, and retention of information through the implementation of customary reporting, record keeping, and privacy and proprietary information protection procedures to ensure the necessary business intelligence and institutional memory is captured and preserved.

Procurement Management is comprised of the sourcing, selection, and contracting of the suppliers and vendors from whom goods and services will be procured using accurate solicitation materials and quality criterion, suitable documentation, change controls, and cost avoidance measures to ensure purchases will deliver cost value.

Stakeholder Management deals with the engagement of and interactions with the varied stakeholder constituencies of the event, including clients, officials, authorities, sponsors, participants, and providers, to develop a mutual vision of and commitment to the requirements and desired outcomes for the event project.

Systems Management involves the implementation and coordination of the various accountability, database, knowledge management, and knowledge transfer systems using suitable technology applications and equipment to integrate the needs and assets of the event project and enterprise.

Time Management covers the processes required for the establishment and verification of timelines, production schedules, and schedule controls that will facilitate the activity architecture necessary to accomplish the tasks associated with the event project.



The Design domain focuses on the artistic interpretation and expression of the goals and objectives of the event project and its experiential dimensions. The elements developed within each functional area combine to create the event experience encounter that will either be enjoyed or endured, with some options considered “risky” by their very nature or by design.


Catering Design Management includes the determination of suitable catering operations and the selection of the menus, quantities, and service styles to meet the food and beverage needs of the event, including the specific requirements associated with the serving of alcohol.

Content Design Management consists of the selection of the appropriate topics, formats, and presenters to achieve the communication objectives and educational obligations of the event project, incorporating the principles and dynamics of adult learning.

Entertainment Design Management encompasses the sourcing, selection, and control of suitable entertainment, ancillary programs, and recreational activities for the event project and coordinating the support requirements for the entertainers and activities in a manner that delivers the desired entertainment experience and that benefits the audience and organization.

Environment Design Management involves the creation or acquisition and arrangement of décor items, props, furnishings, decorative embellishments, and wayfinding and signage systems to enhance the attractiveness and functionality of learning, marketing, ceremonial, and entertainment environments.

Production Design Management deals with the incorporation, sourcing, and selection of the appropriate sound, lighting, visual projection, multimedia, special effect, and other theatrical elements and services to meet the communication objectives and create the desired impressions and ambiance of the event project.

Program Design Management concerns the formation and choreography of the agenda of activities, elements, exhibits, and amenities that shape the composition of the event experience to address the ceremonial, hospitality, and communication requirements of the goals and objectives of the event project.

Theme Design Management is the application of theme development principles and cultural iconography to communicate and integrate the purpose, message, image, and branding of the event project.



The Marking domain addresses the functions that facilitate business development, cultivate economic and political support, and shape the image and value of the event project. The nature of the event as an “experience” necessitates a thorough understanding of the unique buyer-seller relationship associated with this intangible product.


Marketing Plan Management concerns the development and supervision of the overall marketing strategy and tactics to be employed, including target customer definition, acquisition and retention; the internal and external messages and media; and the maintenance of positive customer or guest relations to achieve the marketing aspirations for the event project and the hosting organization.

Materials Management includes the design, acquisition or production, and delivery of printed materials and other collateral materials that will be utilized to support the marketing and operational activities necessary for the event project.

Merchandise Management is the oversight of product development, manufacture, and distribution of retail merchandise associated with the event project to protect brand integrity and achieve profit objectives.

Promotion Management includes the procurement, orchestration, and organization of advertising campaigns, promotional events, cross promotion alliances, and contest or giveaway activities conducted to generate attention, interest, and demand for the event project.

Public Relations Management deals with the formulation and execution of tactics capable of garnering publicity coverage for an event project through the cultivation and conservation of beneficial relationships with the media, as well as preparing for the enhancement and control of the impressions, image, and issues surrounding the event project and enterprise, particularly in times of crisis or controversy.

Sales Management involves the establishment and supervision of procedures, platforms, and transaction processes for all the on-site, remote, and electronic sales activities connected with the event project, such as ticketing operations, concessions, and other retail endeavors, to achieve profit expectations.

Sponsorship Management is the identification, solicitation, securing, servicing, and retention of sponsors, donors, and philanthropic patrons through the proper valuation and delivery of suitable tangible and intangible benefits to provide financial and cost avoidance support for the event project.



The Operations domain concentrates on the people, products, and services that will be brought together on-site to produce the event project, as well as the roles, responsibilities, applications, and maneuvers associated with each. Impeccable coordination is required in order to manage this symphony (or cacophony) of logistical and functional requirements and expectations.


Attendee Management addresses the development and/or procurement of suitable admittance credentialing and control systems such as registration, ticketing, and housing, as well as the tactics for facilitating proper movement and pedestrian traffic flow of the event crowds.

Communications Management is the acquisition of the necessary equipment and development and implementation of the modes and protocols for on-site briefing and debriefing activities and information exchange with internal and external constituents of the event project, including the preparation and incorporation of applicable documentation and contact information into a comprehensive and readily accessible format.

Infrastructure Management concerns the confirmation, acquisition, or enhancement of inherent or imported equipment and services to ensure sufficient transportation systems, parking facilities, utilities, sanitation and waste management, and emergency response services are in place to meet the functional needs of the event project.

Logistics Management includes the analysis, sequencing, and supervision of the tasks and providers necessary for the move-in, installation, maintenance, disassembly, and move-out activities associated with the event project.

Participant Management encompasses the coordination and facilitation of the measures necessary to meet the procedural, practical, and hospitality requirements of those individuals having a direct and predetermined participatory role in the event project.

Site Management involves the sourcing, inspection, selection, and contracting of locations and facilities that will serve the needs of the event project, plus ensuring the proper development and layout of the site wherein the event project takes place.

Technical Management includes the acquisition of the necessary and appropriate staging and equipment, and supervision of its installation, operation, and attendant technician personnel, to ensure realization of the production plans of the event project within the physical constraints of the event site.



The Risk domain deals with the protective obligations, opportunities, and legalities traditionally associated with any enterprise, including an event project. These areas are inextricably linked with every choice made and all activities conducted, and are increasingly mandated by stakeholders ranging from regulatory authorities to discriminating event consumers.


Compliance Management includes the acquisition of the necessary permissions and instruments that demonstrate adherence to all accessibility mandates, property rights requirements, and other applicable statutes, codes, and regulations to signify the event project is in compliance.

Decision Management encompasses the establishment of practical decision-making systems for the event project that include the accurate framing of decisions; the application of the pertinent resources, criteria, rules, and restraints; facilitating suitable deliberation and collaboration; and ensuring the proper authority and empowerment are granted.

Emergency Management is the identification and notification of the proper authorities, medical services, and other emergency responders, and the acquisition and/or development of plans and procedures suitable for responding properly to incidents, evacuations, crises, or disasters that may occur during the event project.

Health & Safety Management involves the establishment and implementation of fire and life safety, occupational safety, and crowd control policies and procedures that ensure the health and welfare of all individuals involved in or in attendance at the event project.

Insurance Management deals with ascertaining liability exposures and contractual requirements, sourcing suitable providers, and acquiring the proper insurance policies in order to maintain suitable loss prevention coverage and risk financing for the event project.

Legal Management is comprised of the negotiation and execution of the contracts and other legal documents associated with the acquisitions and endeavors of the event project, and oversight of the lawful design and implementation of the policies, procedures, and practices of the event organization and its representatives.

Security Management covers the sourcing, selection, and deployment of the personnel and equipment to be used to provide protective services and support for the event project, and the implementation and supervision of the appropriate command and control systems to ensure its efficacy.


The risk management tactics, tools and techniques employed to protect assets and individuals from loss, harm, death, or destruction and to protect an event from disruption, disgrace, or demise must be thoroughly and carefully considered from the inception through the production of the event project. This can be an awesome and intimidating responsibility, but by using the EMBOK for systematically conducting risk identification, analysis, response planning, control, and evaluation activities, this sometimes overwhelming duty will become manageable and instinctive. Its use will also facilitate the generation of the appropriate risk management plans, which articulate the procedures for proactively dealing with uncertainties and specify the resources and responsibilities for execution. This requires conscious preparation and forethought, two activities that, by their very application, serve to reduce risk, and creates an event organization that is risk resilient — knowing the risks and being prepared to compensate for and finance them.


Abbott, J. and Abbott, S. M. (2000). Event Management: Minimizing Liability Through Effective Crowd Management Techniques. Conference Proceedings of Events Beyond 2000: Setting the Agenda. Sydney: Australian Centre for Event Management, 105-119.

Crowd Dynamics (2004). Crowd Disasters. Crowd Dynamics Ltd.  Retrieved December 23, 2004 from http://www.crowddynamics.com/

Department of Defense [DOD] (2002). Risk Management Guide for DOD Acquisition, Fifth Edition. Belvoir, VA: Defense Acquisition University Press. Retrieved May 22, 2003 from http://www.dau.mil/pubs/pdf/RiskMgmtGuide2001.pdf

Grieve, Stephanie (2003). Criminal Liability For Event Organisers: Le Race 2001 Case.  Retrieved December 27, 2004 from Lawlink Web site at http://www.lawlink.co.nz/resources/lerace.pdf

Grieve, Stephanie (2004). Criminal Liability For Event Organisers: The Court Of Appeal Decision In The 'Le Race 2001' Case. Retrieved December 27, 2004 from Lawlink Web site at http://www.lawlink.co.nz/resources/lerace2.pdf

PMI (2000). A Guide to the Project Management Body of Knowledge, PMBOK® Guide, 2000 Edition. Newtown Square, PA: Project Management Institute

Standards Australia (1999). Risk Management AS/NZS 4360: 1999. Strathfield NSW: Standards Association of Australia.

©2001-2016, Julia Rutherford Silvers, CSEP. Albuquerque, NM, USA. All Rights Reserved.

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