WHAT THE LAS VEGAS STRIP MASSACRE MEANS TO EMPLOYERS

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Generally it expresses the recognition of a special day, such as the celebration of a holiday, anniversary, or the life of a famous artist, pioneer, or scientist. Since the horrific Las Vegas massacre, Google’s Doodle has been a simple mournful black ribbon. Google’s message to the world is that our collective hearts are with the victims of the Las Vegas Strip Massacre, their families, and the community of Las Vegas.

The much anticipated last night of Route 91 Harvest Festival, the country music bash billed as a #ThreeDayNeonSleepover, turned into the scene of a shooting spree at 10:08 PM on October 1, 2017. On Monday morning, all of Las Vegas woke up to texts, emails and tweets from friends, loved ones, and colleagues asking if we were “all right.” When I received my extensive set of alarming messages, I turned on the news to learn Steven Paddock, a 64 year-old resident of Mesquite, Nevada had some how managed to get 23 semiautomatic rifles, scopes, modifiers and a cache of ammunition into the Mandalay Bay Hotel and Casino, and up to his suite of rooms on the 32nd floor, perfectly poised to look down on the grounds where the music festival was to be held.

After spending several days at the Mandalay Bay, gambling and essentially taking up residency in his suite of hotel rooms, Paddock inexplicably broke out two windows in his suite, and unleashed a hailstorm of bullets killing 58 people (to date), and wounding 530 more, in what is now the “deadliest mass shooting in the United State’s history.” In light of this horrific violence, many are asking what they should be doing to prevent another such event.

While it is noted that one of Mandalay Bay’s commendable and brave security officers undoubtedly put an end to a massacre that easily could have gone on for another hour, given the amount of weaponry in Paddock’s room, one would be remiss not to wonder whether more could have been done to prevent the widespread assault.

After all, a bellman certainly helped Paddock in with his luggage (13 suitcases for a three day stay). If not, a front desk agent, or elevator security guard must have noticed his unusual gear. And how is it possible the housekeeper and/ or room-service employee responsible for his room over the several days in question, failed to notice the hoard of weapons and/or ammunition?

If not the employees in the hotel, surely the “eye-in-the-sky” noticed Paddock lugging enough weaponry to arm a small junta to his room. The Eye couldn’t have missed him installing cameras in the hotel’s hallway. Even if Paddock had a “do not disturb” sign on his hotel door for several consecutive days, wouldn’t that be a signal something was wrong, and should be investigated? The issues raised go on and on.

Maybe reports about Paddock were filed within the hotel/casino, but right now, it’s too soon to tell. However, if they weren’t, the problem may lie within the fine balance many in the hospitality industry struggle with: that of respecting an individual guest’s privacy, will providing for the collective protection and security of all.

Las Vegas is the place the whole country comes to be unwind, maybe even become someone else for a day or two. To that end, most hospitality organizations have enacted policies stating a strong commitment to respecting their guests’ privacy, vowing to protect all personal information collected from guests according to a strict standard of confidentiality.

Employees in the hospitality sector are trained to guard a guest’s privacy.. They are cautioned not to speak to reporters, not to disclose guests’ personal information to the public, not to confirm or deny any guest’s presence on property. In fact, in Las Vegas, employees have a long-standing tradition of using initials to refer to guests, such as “Mr. P,” in an effort to protect guests’ anonymity.

It is possible that such policies and concomitant employee training created an environment wherein no employee felt he or she could report the facts leading up to this horrific event – facts that in hindsight appear to be so suspicious. It may be that these privacy policies need to be revisited in today’s environment where so many appear to be devoid of conflict resolution skills and differences are seen as threats and other people as enemies.

For example, rather than guaranteeing guests’ absolute privacy, language such as “…privacy will be protected to the extent possible while taking safety and wellbeing of others into consideration” could be added to privacy policies. Additionally, employers in the hospitality industry could consider adding a statement to the guest registration “card” (most of which are now electronic), such as:

The [Hotel] reserves the right to ask any guest to leave the Hotel, terminate any booking, and remove any guests’ belongings and other things brought onto property if, in the Hotel’s sole discretion, there is reason to believe that any guests’ behavior or conduct is disruptive, disorderly, unsafe, and/or otherwise creates a risk of harm to, or disrupts the safety, comfort, or enjoyment of others, including Hotel guests and/or staff, and/or any guest is believed to be violating any law and/or Hotel rule or policy.

Additionally, in the event that housekeeping services have been refused or declined, and/or you request not to be disturbed for consecutive days, the Hotel reserves the right to enter, or have your room entered, under reasonable circumstances, including but limited to, the performance of maintenance, confirm wellbeing, and/or when the Hotel has cause to believe that an emergency situation exists and/or that any guest or person is in danger. Additionally, employees should be trained to understand that there are limitations to any pledge of privacy, and that suspicious behavior and circumstances must be reported to hotel security or some other designated department.

In the meantime, in our own way, we all must pray for comfort for the hurting, while working to fix this broken world we all share. Sadly, I fear that this time, what happened in Vegas, is not going to stay here. LW

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