Coming in 2005: a film staring Owen Wilson and
Vince Vaughn called The Wedding Crashers. The plot centers
around two womanizing men who skillfully crash weddings to meet
their next conquests.
Planners watching the film likely will just nod and smile, as
crashers are a worldwide epidemic, affecting every type and shape
People crash events because they are curious, hungry, thirsty,
cheap, competitors, on the prowl, networking or just because they
enjoy the thrill. They are drawn by high-profile entertainers,
keynote speakers, products samples and high-end F&B.
Some cultures outside of the United States (such as some Latin
countries) have removed the taboos of crashing, driving
unsuspecting American planners mad. Others (like many Asian
cultures) are highly offended by crashers of any kind.
Here are some suggestions for prevention and, if a crasher gets
through, advice on effective removal.
BEFORE THE DELUGE
Assess the scene. During the first site visit, examine
every possible access point a part of the checklist planners often
overlook on an inspection. If your event is proprietary and/or
attractive to competitors or the general public, don’t use a venue
that has hard-to-control entryways or multiple entrances, or is
adjacent to highly trafficked areas.
Call in backup. It seems like an obvious fix to
simply hire security, but most of the security hired by event
planners is trained to watch valuables, not to keep out hungry
passersby, paparazzi or an undercover competitor. Make sure you not
only have adequate security but appropriately trained
Prepare in advance. At the preconvention meeting,
prime the hotel staff for crashers. They should all rehearse the
same procedures for dealing with interlopers.
Scan badges. Insisting on IDs for entrance is not
enough. Upgrade your system by using badges with chips in them that
will allow attendees swift access through an unobtrusive barrier.
Participants without the encrypted badge will set off an
identifying light when they try to walk in.
Even though you’ve gone to such extremes to keep out unwanted
guests, some still might show up.
Strong-arm them. It is almost always best to
have a third party ideally the venue’s security deal with a crasher
you want removed from an event. You should be present, but stay
safe and politically neutral.
Deflect drifters. When dealing with members of
other groups at the property who simply prefer your Continental
breakfast to their own, be coy. Assume they are simply lost.
“Hello. Are you with Group X?” When they are unable to confirm they
are with your group, direct them back to their own turf or call
In many cases, the venue should be watching and therefore
liable if you get moochers. Let the facility’s management know in
advance that you are not willing to cover the costs of stray
Companions and children: Are they crashers, or do you have to
factor them into the budget? This is one exception where it is
often better to expect to pay for a few extra heads if senior
management decides not to charge for guests who happen to show up
with a legitimate attendee.
Most importantly, if several guests of company employees or
association members end up dining on the group’s dime, make sure
senior management gets a postcon debriefing regarding the reasons
for increased F&B costs. It’s very likely that you will be able
to argue successfully for charging for spouses and children at the