If you are arranging, hosting, or in the stage of planning an event in the UK, you need to consider possibly a crowd control or queue control strategy.
The level at which this is undertaken will depend not only on the type and size of the event, but the location that it is taking place at too. Small private events such as parties, anniversary celebrations, and weddings shouldn’t need any form of queuing or crowd control, but the opposite will certainly be true for a large public event such as maybe a business conference, a trade exhibition, a large corporate party, and something as big as a concert or music festival.
If you look at a public event from a business or commercial view, large numbers of visitors are desirable, however poor crowd and queue control can lead to risks with regards to health and safety, a loss in organisation, a loss of revenue for the event, and at the very least contributing to poor levels of customer service in connection with the event.
Layout of your event:
The layout of your event at the venue location, including pedestrian routes, and the design and placement of facilities can all have an influence on crowd and queue control. The size of any entrance that leads or opens up into the event venue can have a bearing on the gathering of people and the speed at which they pass through. Improper crowd control in small or cramped areas can result in a dangerous build-up of pedestrian traffic, in this example even simple rope and post or tensa barrier systems can direct crowd flows, helping ultimately to spread visitors more evenly.
Sometimes it is not possible to change an events layout, but it should always be considered as an option, after all health and safety is now a paramount at all types of UK events and functions.
The layout of a venue affects the way in which visitors behave, especially if people just don’t know where to go. Events such as business conferences, exhibitions and seminars, can attract large numbers of guests and visitors - and the use of barriers with appropriate signage can really help out here.
Without the use of queue or crowd control barriers, your visitors or guests may start to move against the flow of the crowd, people in slow moving queues may keep stopping, blocking off attractions, exhibitor stands, or alternative walkway routes.
Emergency crowd control:
In the event of an emergency in your venue place, are there adequate crowd control measures in place? If not - now is the time to reassess your event plans and consider some form of barrier system.
In an emergency visitors familiar with the venue layout are likely to use known routes to reach a place of safety, this could be an exit point, a meeting point, or an emergency gathering place. In an emergency situation barriers can be used to direct visitors to a safe area, assisted by clear signage or a public address system.
What is crowd control?
The term of crowd control is used to describe the controlling of a crowd. With regards to events, functions, and special occasions it could be understood as controlling the situation so there is no disorder or confusion with regards to a group or a gathering of visitors.
Crowd control should be a gentle method and tactic that consists of line management and public guidance, aided by the use of portable as well as fixed barriers where deemed necessary. Sometimes it is not just barriers that are used to control large groups and crowds of people, keeping queues of guests and visitors comfortable may be all that is required, this may be possible by use of cooling fans, heaters, or activities that can entertain them whilst they are queuing. Some good examples of crowd and queue control can be seen at one of the largest theme parks that is in the UK; Alton Towers. At Alton Towers you will see people queuing all over the theme park, in controlled queues leading up to it’s fantastic thrilling rides, the many food and drink stalls, and at lots of other places. All of the queue lines here are well thought out, creating safe and controlled crowd control. Most of the barrier systems are fixed with stationary posts in the ground. All though seem to have a degree of flexibility to direct queues of people into a different queuing area depending on the number of visitors at any one time. The smaller attractions and indoor visitor areas also use barriers, including tensa barriers and the traditional rope and post type. These can be seen in a number of areas in the theme park, creating a traffic flow in one direction or another in a gentle way.
In Alton Towers you will also see fixed fencing and posts being used to a good effect, these work well on areas that need to be total exclusion areas for the general public, such as around the working machinery of the rides and attractions.
What is a crowd control barrier?
Crowd control (or alternatively referred to as queue control) barriers act as a physical as well as a psychological barrier. They are used to create a type of “no access” area or to designate a space for orderly lines. They are used by a wide range of industries and businesses to control small, medium, and large gatherings of people at all types of events, functions, and meetings. The type of barrier can vary from one design to another, some are fixed, some are portable, and they can be made from a multitude of materials. Barriers can be stand-alone models, or ones that are interlinked by either a chain, a rope, or retractable strap. Heavy duty steel barriers can be attached together by robust fixings, usually either a steel clip or a strap with a nut and bolt. Hooks are also used on some types of barriers, where one barrier will hook into the adjacent one. The most effective crowd control barrier is one that interlocks together with other barriers, this creates integrity when there is a need for queue control.
VIP and Special Events:
If you are organising, planning, or thinking about hosting a VIP, Red Carpet, or a Special Event in the UK, perhaps a business conference at a Yorkshire venue such as the Harrogate Conference Centre or maybe the fabulous Armouries Exhibition Centre in Leeds? consider the use of queue control barriers. For these applications the traditional rope and post barrier system offers an elegant solution to crowd and queue control, being simple to set-up and be put to use they compliment most special event themes and this type of venue.
The rope on this system is strong but also looks luxurious, creating a sophisticated type of barrier. With red carpet events you could also opt to hire coloured retractable type barriers along with stylish chrome barrier posts, the red colour would compliment the luxurious red carpet chosen for your event.
Barriers for use in retail outlets and shops:
Portable barriers can have their own place in a retail environment, you only have to take a trip to a large shopping centre or store to see barriers being put to use. In Yorkshire there is the Kirkgate Shopping Centre in Bradford, the Xscape Shopping Centre in Castleford, in Leeds there is the White Rose Shopping Centre, we should mention the York Discount Outlet, and that is without talking about the massive shopping mall in Sheffield, South Yorkshire - the much visited Meadowhall. All of these outlets in Yorkshire have multiple retailers and shops within, each requiring their own solution with regards to queue control. In busy seasons such as Christmas these shops can have thousands of visitors each week, all which need directing to various places and payment points whilst carrying out their shopping. Barriers are also used to a great effect in shops to direct shoppers to products of interest, this could be a type of product which they wish to launch, which needs sales increasing, or something similar. Mobile barriers such as tensa barriers can be a great sales aid here, especially when used with planned in-store merchandising.
Queuing up for fast food is one area in a retail outlet where queue control barriers are regularly used. In this application they are used to create orderly lines of people who wish to place their order at a counter or desk, again we are talking about controlling the queue in a safe and controlled manner with no confusion.
Exhibition, show, and product launch events:
Our guide to queue control and crowd control barriers would not be complete without a mention of exhibition centres, show grounds, and product launch type events. In all of these there will be a firm requirement for the use of one type of barrier or another. Exhibitions and shows can attract really large numbers of visitors, especially something as grand as the Great Yorkshire Show in Harrogate, Chatsworth Country Fair (held in Derbyshire near Chesterfield / Buxton), and the various car, motorcycle, and other shows that are hosted in exhibition centres throughout the UK. Most of these events feature some type of exhibition, show, or product launch, and a system of barriers can really help display and segregate products from visitors. Think of the boat or annual UK motorcycle show? Barriers can be used to display the latest boats or motorcycles in a controlled environment that is safe yet functional. Barriers can compliment or contrast with anything and everything that is being exhibited - again they create a controlled environment by directing visitors and people to a specific place or queue.