Meeting Mentor Magazine

June 2024

Mass Shooting Unites Industry,
Raises Hotel Security Questions

More than 5,500 meetings professionals from around the globe gathered last week in Las Vegas for IMEX America. The annual Las Vegas event kicked off with expressions of solidarity by leaders in response to the mass shooting that killed 59 people and wounded 527 others on October 1.

“There is no better way to show our support for Las Vegas than by all of us showing up for this event,” said Carina Bauer, CEO, IMEX Group, at a press conference during the show. “We are grateful we can play our part.”

Bauer appeared with Michael Dominguez, senior vice president and chief sales officer of MGM Resorts International. “Our community needs to heal,” he said. “Support for Las Vegas has been overwhelming. Groups have been doubling down on their commitment to meet in the city. This is exactly the kind of support our community needs right now.”

Beyond inspiring expressions of solidarity, the mass shooting, described as the worst in modern American history, is raising difficult questions about hotel security. The gunman, Stephen Paddock, brought an arsenal of rifles and ammunition (10 suitcases) up to his 32nd-floor room at MGM’s Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, where he fired on a crowd of some 20,000 people gathered nearby for an outdoor concert.

Explosives scanners and X-ray machines are standard equipment at airport terminals, but they are unlikely to be widely used in hotels for several reasons — not the least of which is that hotels, unlike airports, have multiple entry points and people typically enter and leave multiple times a day, noted Stephen Barth, an attorney and hospitality professor at the University of Houston, in a USA Today article.

“Generally, most brands will not want to share their security protocols, as criminals/terrorists feed off of intelligence,” he said, “but also because they do not want to publicize their brand as publicly touting itself as secure, as this could be perceived by criminals/terrorists as a challenge or dare.”

In an interview with Fox News, however, Steve Wynn, CEO of Wynn Resorts, said new covert security measures at Wynn properties became operational last summer. He added that his company “has metal detectors and devices at every entrance of the building [for employees and guests] that are nonvisible to the public. We have done extraordinary things to make sure we protect our employees and our guests at the hotel.”

Katherine Lugar, president and CEO of the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA), said in a statement shortly after the Las Vegas shooting: “Hotels have safety and security procedures in place that are regularly reviewed, tested and updated, as are their emergency response procedures. As we better understand the facts in the coming days, we will continue to work with law enforcement to evaluate these measures.”

Manuel Gomez, a former FBI agent, told CNBC that security professionals would likely reconsider future events taking place at outside venues near high-rise buildings. “The answer is to not put hundreds of people in an area where you have hotels or you have other venues that have not been screened or are not secure,” said Gomez, president of MG Security Services. “We learned a very hard way that these open-area events are not safe.”

The MGM Resorts Foundation has set up a special fund to help support victims of the Las Vegas shooting, their families and the organizations that support local first responders. One hundred percent of donations goes to victims, with administrative costs to be absorbed by MGM, according to a statement issued by the company.

For an in-depth analysis of security concerns and initiatives regarding convention centers, see ConferenceDirect MeetingMentor’s cover story in the fall 2017 issue. — Regina McGee

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About ConferenceDirect
ConferenceDirect is a global meetings solutions company offering site selection/contract negotiation, conference management, housing & registration services, mobile app technology and strategic meetings management solutions. It provides expertise to 4,400+ associations, corporations, and sporting authorities through our 400+ global associates.

About MeetingMentor
MeetingMentor, is a business journal for senior meeting planners that is distributed in print and digital editions to the clients, prospects, and associates of ConferenceDirect, which handles over 13,000 worldwide meetings, conventions, and incentives annually.

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