A Little Over a Year After the Las Vegas Shootings: What Procedures Should Hotels Have in Place to Keep Guests and Employees Safe
Random acts of violence are just that - random, horrific, and usually without any kind of warning. But, when they happen in a hotel crowded with guests and employees, the results can be that much more tragic. Hoteliers must walk a very fine line between keeping those under their roofs safe and protected, and still making their guests feel welcomed.
While there is no one answer and no easy solution, security experts and industry watchers weighed in on what has changed over the last year and what safety precautions properties should have in place to be as prepared as possible.
Bringing in professionals for outside training is something hotels should be doing - if they are not already doing this. "You can invite police departments in to conduct active shooter training for free, which would be particularly something you would see at larger properties, said David Sangree, president of Hotel & Leisure Advisors, a hospitality industry consulting firm. "And, now the 'see something, say something' policy is more important than ever."
While he feels few hotels have made significant changes since the Oct. 1, 2017 tragedy in Las Vegas, Mac Segal, Copenhagen-based head of hotel and fixed site security consulting for AS Solution, a global security and executive protection company, said that some United States properties have begun deploying CIRT (Critical Incident Response teams) on their properties. These are highly qualified and extremely well-trained experienced security personnel who are able to effectively respond to a critical incident at the hotel, he noted.
Segal suggested that hotels invest in is a reporting platform, which is an app or web-based system for quick and effective reporting of suspicious activity.
"So many employees and guests see things but do nothing with that information and then after the fact we learn that an attack could have been prevented if only we had known what people had seen," Segal said. "There are excellent platforms out there that make it so easy and quick to report something and then enables the security team to easily collate, cross reference, and use that data to take proactive steps to stop an incident before it even begins."
There also are new technologies, in terms of weapons scanners. These are not walk-through or handheld metal detectors, and for the most part invisible to the guests, Segal added. Developments in analytics for CCTV that allow hoteliers to “educate” the cameras as to what constitutes a potential threat and when to automatically alert the security control room, would be very beneficial as well.
"A lot of changes have probably taken place behind the scenes. We don’t necessarily know what types of surveillance enhancements have been made or new types of technologies hotels are using, and that's that’s by design," said Dallas-based Jason Porter, vice president of the southwest region for Pinkerton, a global provider of corporate risk management services and solutions.
Porter said he noticed after recently attending a conference in Las Vegas that a lot of hotels now have posted signs saying they don’t allow firearms in the building—which wasn’t always the case.
Hotels also have taken a more pro-active stance since Mandalay Bay by ramping up employee training, said Russell Kolins, chairman of the hospitality, entertainment, and tourism security council for ASIS International, the leading organization for security professionals worldwide.
"There has been a push to inform employees that they are the eyes and ears of the property. Establishment of a keen awareness, based on continuing reminders through training will help eliminate complacency and a 'take it for granted' attitude when it comes to security and safety," Kolins said.
Employees, particularly housekeeping, have access to security alert devices that they can activate in the case of an attack or other emergency. The panic alarms also pinpoint the location of the employee when activated for quick response. DO NOT DISTURB signs are being eliminated, Kolins added. Some hotels have door knob signs that read, “Room is locked from inside, but you can access by knocking."