Eye on Hospitality: Hotel Security After Las Vegas

Eye on Hospitality: Hotel Security After Las Vegas

By Paul Schlienz

The world was shocked and grieved at the senseless shooting from the Mandalay Bay resort’s 32nd floor, in Las Vegas, on Oct. 1. The hotel industry, of course, was especially devastated by this insane and evil act. Not surprisingly, there is now serious discussion within the industry about security upgrades to prevent similar incidents in the future.

“Was [the Vegas shooting] foreseeable?” asked Fred Del Marva, a licensed private investigator and casino and hotel security consultant. “No. Basically it was a random act of violence that could not have been prevented. The problem now [that it’s happened] is that it is foreseeable, and the problem is, what do you do?”

Although there are calls for hotels to adopt airport-style security with metal detectors, scanners and searches to catch would-be killers before they have a chance to commit their heinous crimes, most hoteliers are reluctant to embrace these methods.

“I know there are conversations going on in boardrooms across the country, where they’re saying, ‘Oh man, we need to look at our security,’ but crossing the line into the kind of security we have in airports is probably not in the cards for the near term,” said Carl Winston, founding director of the L. Robert Payne School of Hospitality & Tourism Management at San Diego State University. “I could see a need for it in Washington, D.C., hotels that have congressional visitors but if it’s a roadside inn in Temecula, I don’t know that I need it.”

“I don’t think we want to start using metal detectors,” said Bob Rauch, who owns and operates multiple smaller and mid-size hotels in the San Diego area. “It’s not so much the expense. It’s a big inconvenience to the 99.99 percent of hotel guests who are there to enjoy themselves or do business, so to put them through what they’ve already been put through at the airport, it’s not so guest friendly.”

If anything, the Las Vegas murders were a wake-up call to hotel staff to be even more vigilant and aware of suspicious behavior and not to hesitate in reporting it.

“If any employee were to see a customer alone with multiple suitcases going up the elevator multiple times, they need to speak up,” said Rauch. “It’s a big red flag and management should engage the guest, ask what their plans are and report it to authorities if necessary.”

Another red flag in the case of the Las Vegas shooter was his placing of a “Do Not Disturb” sign on his door.

“We generally have a policy if [a “Don Not Disturb” sign remains on a door] for more than a couple of days, we want to double check on the guest because people can get into medical situations,” said Debra Sanderlin, general manager of San Diego’s 102-room Bristol Hotel. “We would rather risk having a guest be a little upset than not being aware they need help. It can be as simple as a quick check in the room.”

“[The Vegas shooting] is the first event of this size where a U.S. hotel was involved,” Jan Freitag, senior vice president of STR, which tracks hotel data, said. “I think there will be a lot more done at the back end of hotels, like investing more training in staff who have guest interaction, such as bellhops, the front desk, housekeeping.”

“If you see something, say something,” said Sanderlin.

Categories: Lodging, News Room