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The Las Vegas shooting could completely change how hotels think about security

A broken window where a gunman opened fire from an upper story of Mandalay Bay resort on a country music festival across the street on the Las Vegas Strip on Sunday night, leaving at least 58 dead and more than 500 injured, shown on Oct. 2, 2017 in Las Vegas, Nev. (Marcus Yam/Los Angeles Times/TNS)

  • Gunman Stephen Paddock carried out the deadliest shooting in modern US history from a broken window at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino.
  • Hotel staff did not pick up on potential red flags that Paddock, who stockpiled weapons at the hotel for three days, was planning an attack. 
  • Legal experts say hotels will tighten security measures to better prevent violent events.

The Las Vegas shooting — the deadliest shooting in modern US history — is forcing hotels to reconsider their responsibility in keeping guests safe.

“What happened on Sunday is sort of a larger wake-up call for the industry to take a step back and ask themselves: ‘What about my city? What am I doing to make sure that … my guests are safe and secure?'” Deanna Ting, hospitality editor at the travel-industry intelligence company Skift, told Business Insider.

Gunman Stephen Paddock stockpiled weapons in his hotel room for three days before firing from the windows of  his suite on the 32nd floor  into the crowd of 22,000 people across the street, killing 58 people and wounding almost 500 others.

The Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino, as well as other properties owned by MGM Resorts — including the Bellagio, Monte Carlo, and the MGM Grand — have increased security levels, according to a spokesperson from the company. The Wynn Resort in Las Vegas added new security measures after the shooting, scanning guests with metal detectors and putting bags through X-ray machines.

Many of these heightened security measures will likely be phased out in the coming months. Some things — such as metal detectors and X-ray machines — simply pose too much inconvenience to guests to become common in the hotel industry.

However, according to legal experts, hotels may be forced to take more preventative measures if mass shooting incidents do not decrease in the US.

“It becomes more and more foreseeable if you operate certain types of venues, those venues will be seen as opportunities for mass shootings,” said Heidi Li Feldman, a professor at Georgetown Law School.

In other words, hotels and other entertainment spaces where horrific mass shootings have occurred may not just need to beef up safety measures to soothe customers. They may need to add new measures to prevent shootings because, if they don’t, the hotel could be seen as legally liable.

“Foreseeability is one of the key components of liability,” Dick Hudak, managing partner of the Resort Security consulting firm, said.

Experts are split on what exactly the best preventative measures are for hotels to take.

Hyper-visible measures such as X-ray machines and other screenings when guests check in are helpful for creating the atmosphere of safety after a tragedy. In some other countries, such as Indonesia and Israel, where hotels have been targeted in bombings, such security has become the norm.

room key iphoneTech like Hilton’s digital room key sometimes sacrifices security for convenience. Hilton

In the US, however, there are no common security standards across the hospitality industry. Generally, the trend has been to prioritize convenience, not increased security.

Hudak says that security experts hate tech innovations like mobile phone room keys. While they make the guest’s experience more seamless, cutting down on the time that customers spend interacting with staff means fewer chances to pick up on crucial red flags.

In fact, the long-term solutions that hotels are turning to to increase security are things customers may never notice.

New technology could help hotels better monitor guests. Following the Las Vegas shooting, employees at hotels across the country are likely being retrained to better understand what could signal a dangerous guest and how to react to potential threats. Things like random background checks and even forcing guests to sign paperwork stating they will not bring guns on the premises could help deter wrongdoing — and create legal safeguards for hotels.

Much of the discussion in the aftermath of the Las Vegas shooting has been about gun regulation — a topic that many hospitality experts who spoke with Business Insider were passionate about. However, they say that it is also clear that hotels — especially Las Vegas hotels — need to take some sort of action of their own.

“If Congress isn’t regulating gun ownership, it is going to be private parties … who end up regulating their own premises,” Feldman said.

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