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In an ever increasing competitive world, have you ever considered the threat of industrial espionage?

Defined as theft of commercially valuable information, industrial espionage can take many forms and although difficult to quantify, experts believe it is increasing. In 2007, McLaren Formula 1 racing team was fined $100m for possessing confidential technical data belonging to its rival Ferrari.

Pharmaceutical, motor industry and financial companies have long been aware of the need to minimise their presence at a venue for a conference. Most companies in such sectors will not host a meeting at a venue if another company in the same industry has already booked their event.

According to PricewaterhouseCoopers, industrial espionage costs the corporate world in excess of $45m every year among the world’s 1,000 largest companies. (Source: Conference News, December 2008)

What can you do to protect your meeting or conference?

1 – Choice of Venue is a major factor. If using a large city centre venue it would not be unusual for a large number of people to be coming and going during the day. A smaller, more exclusive venue would make it potentially more difficult for unwelcome visitors to access your event;

2 – Noise levels – How soundproof is the conference room? Can people outside your room hear what is being discussed inside the room? Be aware of volume levels from PA Systems;

3 – Delegate Identity – Consider using ID Badges with photos to ensure only invited delegates actually attend;

4 – Electronic information – How safe is the data you are sharing with your delegates – are they encrypted or password protected?

5 – Paper documents – Make it a priority to shred any confidential documents after your event;

6 – Wi-fi internet connection – Some companies now demand that, when away from their offices, employees only access the internet via traditional modems and do not use Wi-fi as its security can be compromised.

Although corporate espionage is a growing concern, choosing a suitable venue for your event will go a long way towards safeguarding your information. Building effective measures into your planning strategy will help reduce the threat significantly.

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