Las Vegas Shooting Vigil

How the Las Vegas Shooting Affects Hospitality PR

By: Andrea Trapani

We’re living in an age of unpredictability; a sentiment that resonates particularly strong for the hospitality industry.

Now that we’ve had a few months to process and come to terms with what happened in Las Vegas, we want to take a step back and think about how – as counselors – this tragedy impacts our clients and us as an agency.

We have seen so many unique discussion points come up as a result of this tragedy. The fact that Reuters reached out to Identity for a comment shows us the profound scale of impact it has had on the hospitality industry, as well as several other industries we work with.

The events that took place at Mandalay Bay are not just seared into the minds of most Americans, but also hoteliers, from an operations perspective. Hospitality organizations have now been thrust into a frame of mind where they must think about the unthinkable, and plan for the unplannable.

Navigating Outside the Typical Hospitality Crisis

For the most part, hospitality organizations deal with common and predictable situations – be it guest issues, personnel problems, etc. These situations usually have a defined process, and are easy to pinpoint and deal with.

The shooting in Las Vegas, though, was something else entirely. Mandalay Bay found themselves in the center of a tragic national situation – raising troubling questions about hotel security and guest access.

The way people talk about a situation in a time of crisis is integral to the approach of a PR strategy. Mandalay Bay chose not to go dark, instead quickly and publicly sharing all the facts they had at the time, and finding a way to help people cope. The role of the communications team was to put out truthful information – helping to shape the public conversation.

The hotel utilized the #VegasStrong hashtag, which became a central rallying point in the following days. The hashtag was a great way of allowing people to reflect and share their support for the victims. Instead of turning the situation into a PR moment, they created a human moment instead.

How Las Vegas Affects the Global Hospitality Industry

The events in Las Vegas created a ripple effect for the average hotel in a hospitality organization’s portfolio. Executive teams must now tweak their strategic planning efforts to match what’s happening in the world. But this scenario won’t garner change overnight – it is a slow and careful process.

Anything that can happen at a company, can also happen at a hotel – only more publicly. Surprising things can happen anywhere there is a large number of people, which result in logic jumps when the information is spread too quickly. Hoteliers know that brand reputation from sites like TripAdvisor are critical, and rely on PR firms like Identity to help manage it.

Whether a top-tier or tertiary market, management organizations need to think about restructuring their processes to better educate the people who operate their hotels, and guide them in making smarter decisions on a daily basis that impact guest safety and comfort.

Now months removed from the events in Las Vegas, crisis strategy should continue to be an ongoing topic of conversation with hotel leaders at all levels.  

Planning for the unplannable – through the lens of PR and employee communications – is now the new normal for the hospitality industry.

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