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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The hotel industry has undertaken a long-term effort to build more responsible and socially conscious businesses. What began with small efforts to reduce waste - such as paperless checkouts and refillable soap dispensers - has evolved into an international movement toward implementing sustainable development practices. In addition to establishing themselves as good corporate citizens, adopting eco-friendly practices is sound business for hotels. According to a recent report from Deloitte, 95% of business travelers believe the hotel industry should be undertaking “green” initiatives, and Millennials are twice as likely to support brands with strong management of environmental and social issues. Given these conclusions, hotels are continuing to innovate in the areas of environmental sustainability. For example, one leading hotel chain has designed special elevators that collect kinetic energy from the moving lift and in the process, they have reduced their energy consumption by 50%  over conventional elevators. Also, they installed an advanced air conditioning system which employs a magnetic mechanical system that makes them more energy efficient. Other hotels are installing Intelligent Building Systems which monitor and control temperatures in rooms, common areas and swimming pools, as well as ventilation and cold water systems. Some hotels are installing Electric Vehicle charging stations, planting rooftop gardens, implementing stringent recycling programs, and insisting on the use of biodegradable materials. Another trend is the creation of Green Teams within a hotel's operation that are tasked to implement earth-friendly practices and manage budgets for green projects. Some hotels have even gone so far as to curtail or eliminate room service, believing that keeping the kitchen open 24/7 isn't terribly sustainable. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to integrate sustainable practices into their operations and how they are benefiting from them.