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What unfolded on Sunday night in Las Vegas has become an all too common occurrence, not just here in the United States, but around the world. No place, it seems, is immune to mass shootings or terror.
But what took place on Sunday struck at the very core of what the meetings industry is all about: bringing people together. Those who were targeted in this Sunday’s attack traveled from all over the country, and even outside the U.S., to attend the Route 91 Harvest Festival this past weekend. They came to Las Vegas for what they thought would be a weekend filled with fun, music, and memories — something all of us can relate to.
No doubt this most recent attack strikes a nerve, especially for meetings and event professionals. Las Vegas, in particular, is one of the top destinations in the U.S. for meetings and events. Last year, the city welcomed a record 42.9 million visitors, an estimated 6.3 million of whom came to Las Vegas specifically to attend a meeting or convention. The city hosted more than 21,000 meetings and events last year alone.
In the days ahead
Las Vegas tourism and hospitality officials will be asking themselves plenty of questions. Should metal detectors be placed at the entrances to all of the hotels on the Strip? Do hotels need to enhance surveillance and training methods to ensure security? What needs to be addressed regarding gun laws in Nevada and other open-carry states?
And, more importantly, what can be done now so something like this never happens again?
The meetings industry’s connection to Las Vegas is undeniable. In fact, next week, more than 12,000 people are anticipated to gather in the city for the annual IMEX America convention. For those planners who attend IMEX America next week, it will be a firsthand opportunity to see just how safe and secure Las Vegas can be for their own meetings and events.
Yes, what happened this week was terrifying. And yes, it could happen again, anywhere. But it’s a risk we all take today as travelers, and if we decide to stop meeting, what next?
I’ll leave you with something written in a personal Facebook post from a hospitality colleague who works in Las Vegas. She wrote: “This will be a long road for us in Las Vegas. Please keep us in your prayers, but more importantly perhaps, please keep coming back. We need you now more than ever.
Our police and security teams work incredibly hard to make your vacation safe and to make our community safe. Don’t let one cowardly asshole keep you from enjoying all the beauty and wonder our city has to offer.”
— Deanna Ting