Amid the exuberance of record-breaking convention growth, booming revenues and the singular experience that is Las Vegas, there is the serious matter of operations and infrastructure.
Along with the approximately 262,300 front-line and back-of-house workers providing the choreographed service and maintenance that sets Las Vegas apart, the stagecraft also critically depends on three primary functional areas: safety and security operations, transportation options, and on the utility front, water conservation efforts.
Las Vegas may seem like a desert mirage, but its very existence and future relies on unyielding and exacting attention to these real-world concerns, without which there are no milestones or memories.
Speaking at the U.S. Travel Association’s inaugural Secure Tourism Summit in New York City this April, Jeremy Handel, the LVCVA’s senior director of communications, made this succinct comment: “Before the sales and marketing, you have to make sure the destination is safe and secure.”
Doing just that is Ray Suppe, the bureau’s executive director of customer safety. Participating in a panel discussion at the event on crisis planning and readiness, Suppe, who has overseen all security for the Las Vegas Convention Center (LVCC) for the past 25 years, shared insights into the destination’s ever-vigilant security measures.
Pillars of the system include strong public-private partnerships, open communication and a high degree of security professionalism.
“Las Vegas’ relative small size allows for close working relationships among our key partners,” Suppe said. “These include the Las Vegas Security Chiefs Association; Southern Nevada Counter-Terrorism Center, or Fusion Center; and Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department (LVMPD).”
Formed in 1987, the association, with 7,000-plus members, comprises resort and casino security directors from across Las Vegas and Southern Nevada, plus representatives from public safety agencies around the community.
“We talk daily and meet monthly,” said Suppe, who serves as secretary for the Security Chiefs Association. “It’s all about security communication, partnerships and training.”
Unique to Las Vegas, the multi-agency Fusion Center includes an intelligence analyst, funded by the LVCC, dedicated solely to the resort community. With its own substation on the LVCC campus, the LVMPD polices and secures the Strip, and stays in real-time communication with the other entities when incidents develop.
The relationship-building extends to customers.
“The LVCC has 5,500 doors, which presents a unique challenge,” he said. “Accordingly, we invest significant time and energy in security planning. For CES and other major events, the conversation takes place year-round.”
“Planning, preparation and practice” were dominant themes at the Secure Tourism Summit, around creating “muscle memory” for responding to any crisis, from terrorism to pandemics to natural disasters. In other words, don’t stick your plan on the shelf to collect dust.
“Recently, a shooting on the Strip sent people running into one local casino,” Suppe said. “Coming off active shooter training, the staff handled the situation without further incident. The culture of awareness and readiness is embedded in the destination.”
Crisis management is among multiple topics on the program this month as the LVCC hosts its 24th annual International Tourism Safety Conference.
Another major group in-bound this summer is the 22nd annual Boyd Group International Aviation Forecast Summit. Returning to Las Vegas following record-breaking editions in 2014 and 2015, the late August event at Wynn Las Vegas will once again feature global aviation CEOs and leaders discussing emerging transportation trends.