Once a year, Denmark’s leading purveyor of fine watches and jewellery exhibits millions of dollars worth of high-end luxury in an event open to the public. This fall, Klarlund brought hundreds of exquisite pieces from its two Copenhagen shops to Aarhus, on the other side of Denmark, for a weekend exhibition that opened its doors to more than 1000 paying guests. The event security was top-notch – but that’s not what the enthusiastic watch aficionados noticed.
More than 1000 guests getting up-close and personal with five million dollars worth of watches and jewellery in a refurbished 150-year old train workshop. That’s how our brief from Stig Andersen, Klarlund’s CEO, started.
But Andersen had a lot more to say about Klarlund’a Fine Watch & Jewellery Exhibition in Aarhus on 31 October – 1 November. “Of course, when we have watches and jewellery worth millions of dollars on display, keeping them safe from theft is paramount. But as vital as security obviously is, the guest experience is also extremely important to us. For an event like this, we want top-notch security without turning the venue into Fort Knox.”
Watching out for watches that cost more than a typical Danish home
Klarlund’s exhibition concept is relatively rare in the world of high-end luxury retail: a pop-up store that is open to the public for two days only. Guests must purchase a ticket beforehand for one of two daily exhibition sessions, one in the morning and one in the afternoon.
Once inside, visitors are treated to a close look at some of the world’s most prestigious luxury brands. They can check out watches from Audemars Piguet, Vacheron Constantin, Tag Heuer, Tudor, Hublot, Rolex, Panerai, Chanel and Cartier. One watch on display cost more than $400,000. If it’s jewellery they’re interested in, they can try on a tiara by Chaumet worth $65,000, pearls from Schoeffel or some of Roberto Coin’s latest creations.
Even though the event is one weekend only, Klarlund’s insurers require that security be every bit as strong as at its regular shops.
Close cooperation and good planning are key
The venue, Centralvaerkstedet, is located in central Aarhus. Built more than 150 years ago to repair locomotives and train cars, it is now beautifully refurbished as a conference and exhibition center.
Working with Klarlund, their insurance company and local police authorities, the AS Solution team had the luxury of several months in which to prepare. This allowed us to research the venue and come up with a solid plan, based on ample research and a thorough risk assessment process. We established the context, identified potential risks, and then analyzed and evaluated those risks in order to ensure that we were fully prepared.
Cooperating with the police early on was important. Because we involved them in the initial stages of planning and maintained close contact throughout the process, the local police were able and willing to deploy resources that otherwise would have been difficult to arrange.
Similarly, close cooperation with Klarlund’s insurance company was vital. They were involved all through the planning process, and were thus able to give their input at every step of the way. This made getting approvals from them much simpler than it otherwise would have been. It also allowed Klarlund to reduce their insurance premiums for the event – which are significant considering the value of the goods on display.
By the time the doors opened, we were ready. Part of our detail kept a discreet eye on the exterior of the venue. Others manned the various security zones that the guests flowed through on their way to the exhibition. While the zones were designed to prevent intruders from bursting into the venue from outside, they also became part of the guest experience, as visitors showed their tickets and were greeted to the show.
Technology plays a key role at any event—but even more so when valuable goods and big crowds are involved.
Tech helps us identify risks in a busy environment so they can be defused before they become an issue. Tech also helps to prevent criminal activity.
The main challenge, in this case, was the location itself. Since the exhibition took place at a conference venue, we had to find ways of deploying the same kind of foolproof security that protects Klarlund’s stores for an event that lasts only two days. Of course, compromise was not an option. Without going into details, let’s just say that we covered all the bases in terms of technology, and essentially recreated the top-notch protection used at Klarlund’s stores.
The guest experience is also part of event security
Security at an event like this must be effective and discreet—but not too discreet.
Attendees should not be distracted by or feel anxious about overly-intrusive security measures. After all, they’re here to enjoy the exhibition. The watches and jewellery should be the stars of the show, not the security detail.
Armed guards in every corner and metal detectors at every door are not something that Danish guests would warm to. On the other hand, noticeable security is a visible and necessary deterrent to potential criminals. Finding the right balance is key.
“We put a lot of energy into orchestrating every aspect of the guest experience at our events,” explains Sig Andersen. “Watches and jewellery – especially the high-end items that we display – are things that carry a lot of personal significance for our customers and guests. We want them to be able to get to learn more about these beautiful products, touch them and try them on in an atmosphere that is secure but never intimidating. The mood should be festive, but we never relax when it comes to security. Getting this balance right is not a simple task.”
The importance of first aid
Onsite first aid is a critical part of event security for several reasons.
First, it provides yet another layer of safety for our guests. And, that safety comes with no delay: no need to wait for an ambulance to be dispatched in case of an emergency—all of our event security staff is trained to provide immediate assistance.
Second, if anything does happen, onsite first aid can keep the event going with a minimum amount of disruption.
Finally, it simplifies things for our clients and for us. The client doesn’t have to hire another company and can save costs. And we don’t need to integrate a third party into workflows and planning that are already complex enough.
For us, a client like Klarlund is a partner. They knew what they wanted both in terms of security and guest experience. They started early and allowed good planning. They were challenging, but always professional.
“Working with AS Solution on event security has been a professional pleasure,” concludes Stig Andersen. “They have a clear idea of all the hard skills that go into planning and implementation, but also a solid understanding of the soft skills that keep the guest experience front and center. This is the third time they handle security for our events – and definitely not the last time!”
Read more about our approach to event security her.