Aftermath of the Las Vegas Tragedy: The Impact Upon Hotel, Resort and Casino Security

By Richard Hudak Managing Partner, Resort Security International | November 12, 2017

Information we now know from Metropolitan Police press briefings, confirms protocols, procedures, and security guidelines in place at the Mandalay Bay Resort on October 1, 2017 significantly altered the plans and behavior of Stephen Paddock but did not prevent him from carrying out murder. How will this tragedy impact future hotel and resort security planning?

Mandalay Bay is a prime example of the CPTED (Crime prevention thru environmental design) concept. The resort has excellent “standoff” providing reaction time in an emergency for a police or security response. Use of barriers allows avenues of vision. Windows are designed to remain closed. The shooter had to break two windows to carry out his plan, the first and only time he may have drawn attention.

Security technology enhances Mandalay’s security. Digital CCTV, large screen high definition monitors, analytics, biometrics, motion detection, proximity locking systems, external LED lighting and parking garage communications, all dramatically improve the ability to monitor access points, identify suspicious activity, and interdict potential criminals. Yet the shooter did not standout as a risk.

An effective security program depends upon effective communications. Resorts employ a variety of landline (PBX), cell, Wi-Fi, internal and external networks and “talk down security” in appropriate situations. The Mandalay Bay security officer immediately radioed security command after being shot advising there was an active shooter on the thirty second floor. A cell phone backup was also available. Communications with Metro Police pinpointing the location of the shooter may have saved lives.

Most importantly, hotels and resorts emphasize the mantra “every employee is responsible for safety and security.” Safety and security issues are discussed in meetings; supervisory updates are provided daily; safety and security posters are placed in staff areas; computerized security training modules are often required; “on the spot” rewards and Employee of the Month recognition are frequently awarded to encourage participation. Furthermore, responsibility for safety and security is documented on most employee and management job descriptions.

Hotel and resort security programs depend upon “360 degrees of safety and security protection” from the moment a guest makes a reservation or drives onto the property to finally securing the door of the guest room. “ Layers of security” involving all departments to provide situational awareness for the security department and situational management for property management. The recent tragedy at Mandalay Bay underscored how each department and each staff member had an important safety and security role to play.

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Coming up in February 2018...

Social Media: Engagement is Key

There are currently 2.3 billion active users of social media networks and savvy hotel operators have incorporated social media into their marketing mix. There are a few Goliath channels on which one must have a presence (Facebook & Twitter) but there are also several newer upstart channels (Instagram, Snapchat &WeChat, for example) that merit consideration. With its 1.86 billion users, Facebook is a dominant platform where operators can drive brand awareness, facilitate bookings, offer incentives and collect sought-after reviews. Twitter's 284 million users generate 500 million tweets per day, and operators can use its platform for lead generation, building loyalty, and guest interaction. Instagram was originally a small photo-sharing site but it has blown up into a massive photo and video channel. The site can be used to post photos of the hotel property, as well as creating Instagram Stories - personal videos that disappear from the channel after 24 hours. In this regard, Instagram and Snapchat are now in direct competition. WeChat is a Chinese company whose aim is to be the App for Everything - instant messaging, social media, shopping and payment services - all in a single platform. In addition to these channels, blogging continues to be a popular method to establish leadership, enhance reputations, and engage with customers in a direct and personal way. The key to effective use of all social media is to find out where your customers are and then, to the fullest extent possible, engage with them on a personal level. This engagement is what creates a personal connection and sustains brand loyalty. The February Hotel Business Review will explore these issues and examine how some hotels are successfully integrating social media into their operations.