The world is reeling from the news that a gunman in Las Vegas mowed down attendees at an open-air concert from a sniper’s perch on the 32nd floor of Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, but officials in the exhibitions, events, and hospitality industries have been quick to express not only shock and grief but also reassurance for those with plans to attend future events.
Among those officials were organizers for Global Gaming Expo, which was scheduled to draw 450 exhibitors and 26,000 attendees to the Sands Expo & Convention Center from October 3-5.
American Gaming Association president and CEO Geoff Freeman expressed his condolences to all affected by the attack, which killed at least 59 people and injured more than 500. He also assured would-be attendees that the organization along with the venue are taking extra steps to bolster the safety plans in place for the event.
“The AGA and Reed Exhibitions will be in constant contact with local and national law enforcement and our host, Las Vegas Sands,” Freeman said. “We will closely monitor the situation and safety remains our priority. The gaming industry is a tight-knit community and Las Vegas is the beating heart of our operations. The AGA and Reed Exhibitions will offer our full assistance as the city recovers, and we will strive to honor the victims of this tragic event.”
Officials for IMEX, another large show scheduled to open nine days after the shooting, also expressed their grief in a statement but assured show participants that the show would go on.
“We are shocked and saddened at the events that have taken place in Las Vegas over the past 24 hours,” the statement said, which was signed by IMEX Group chairman Ray Bloom and CEO Carina Bauer. “We can confirm that IMEX America will be going ahead at the Sands Expo next week from Oct. 10-12. Both IMEX America and the Sands have very strong security in place, with both visible and plain clothes security teams in the venue and at the tradeshow.
“Over the coming days we will be working closely with the Sands, the Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority and the Las Vegas authorities to assess any additional security measures that are needed at this time. We will take their full advice in ensuring the best possible security and safety of our guests.
Participant safety and emergency response preparedness have dominated industry conversations in recent years as acts of violence worldwide have at times put business travelers and those attending conferences and shows at risk. Though the conversation on event safety started before the Las Vegas massacre, the incident highlights the ongoing need for additional focus, said International Association of Exhibitions and Events’ president and CEO David DuBois. “Our prayers and thoughts go out to all those negatively affected by this deplorable act of violence,” DuBois said in a statement. “As an exhibitions and events and hospitality industry we must continue to enhance our safety and security protocols and procedures and do our best to mitigate these types of tragic incidents.”
“Our hearts and prayers go out to the victims of last night’s shooting, their families, and those still fighting for their lives,” said Jim Murren, chairman and CEO of MGM Resorts International, which owns Mandalay Bay. “We are working with law enforcement and will continue to do all we can to help all of those involved.” Immediately following the incident, all MGM properties on the Las Vegas Strip implemented emergency lockdown procedures for guest and staff safety, though those have since been lifted.
Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority president Rossi Ralenkotter expressed grief and gratitude in an official statement from the organization, calling Las Vegas a resilient community that has banded together in an effort to recover. “The thoughts and prayers of all of Las Vegas go out to the victims and their families,” Ralenkotter said. “This was a horrific, yet isolated, incident. At this time, it is important to allow the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police to conclude their investigation into the incident and to attend to the needs of the victims and their families. Las Vegas is a strong community that will work through this tragic incident. We are grateful beyond words to our incomparable law enforcement, first responders and everyone who continues to help victims and their families.”
“The entire Las Vegas community is saddened by the events that occurred on the Strip on Sunday evening, but touched by the overwhelming support and strength of our first responders and the Las Vegas community. The Las Vegas Convention and Visitors Authority and the entire Las Vegas community thanks you for your support as we continue to heal and help those in need in the wake of this horrible tragedy.”
—Photo Credit (top): Sam Morris/Las Vegas News Bureau