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Security and safety beyond the show floor

Security at a tradeshow or exhibition isn’t just required on the show floor. Loading docks and hallways also need watchful eyes as exhibitors and attendees pass through a convention center’s halls.

Sands Expo CC imagesHeaded by Lawrence Montoya, facility security at the Sands Expo and Convention Center (Sands Expo) in Las Vegas formed unique partnerships with show security, casino security and local law enforcement agencies.

Separate from Sands Expo’s security, show organizers hire outside security companies to manage the show floor itself. According to Montoya, working closely with other security teams who are regularly hired has helped to establish good relationships between them.

At 2.25 million square feet of exhibition and meeting space, the fifth largest convention center in the U.S. is also connected to two of the most well-known casinos on the Las Vegas Strip. Facility security must work in tandem not only with show security, but also with the heads of security at the Venetian and Palazzo resorts to handle crowds between properties.

Accessible directly from the resorts, casino and hotel guests, and exhibitors and attendees may cross paths in the convention center hallways. Working together, both facility and show security grant entry only to those with proper badges and/or wristbands.

Although rare, one major concern is the lending or selling of attendee badges and wristbands to unauthorized users. Under a Nevada statute, such unlawful admissions to exhibitions can lead to a felony charge or even arrest. Offenders are deemed as trespassing and could be arrested if they return to any Sands property under NRS 207.200.

In cases of emergency, guests may need to be evacuated from one property to another. For efficiency, Sands Expo, Venetian and Palazzo security would unify efforts to facilitate crowd control between properties.

When working with show security, show management is obligated to provide a plan of security to Montoya to ensure both teams work in partnership for the overall safety of exhibitors and attendees. Emergency procedures, including layout, equipment and contacts, are shared and discussed prior to opening day. Before opening the doors, Sands Expo electricians check wires and electrical devices, and test rigging and lighting; convention services vacuum and smooth carpet; and facility security check for unsafe hazards.

Security hired by show management need to abide by Sands Expo’s rules and regulations. Current business and Nevada licenses must be up to date, and guards are to be stationed at any doors used for entry and exit before, during and after the show.

With the exception of a few tradeshows, firearms are strictly prohibited on the show floor. Show management must seek prior approval to have armed security officers. At the annual SHOT show, the largest tradeshow for professionals in the shooting sports, hunting and law enforcement industries, armed guards are a necessity.

At shows where exhibitors bring their own security to guard valuable products and trade secrets, security team members are even more stringent with their own set of rules and procedures.

Gun-carrying Las Vegas Metropolitan police officers also work with the Sands Expo for traffic control at larger, busier tradeshows. Located less than one block from the Las Vegas Strip and without a front entrance, surrounding streets at the facility can become congested with exhibitors, attendees, hotel and casino guests, tourists and employees from both the convention center and its adjoining resorts.

Show management may be required to hire police officers if occupying at least two exhibit halls and expecting more than 5,000 exhibitors and attendees. Police officers, who must be ordered in pairs, work a minimum of four hours to ease the flow of traffic entering, leaving and passing the facility.

Among other security and safety concerns, accidents and other incidents on the show floor are handled among facility and show security officers. Both security teams file reports, and Sands Expo security handles logistics, such as informing on-site medical staff and arranging transportation to a medical facility if needed.

While licensed security officers monitor the ongoings of the show floor during show hours, Montoya and his facility staff overlook all aspects of the building during move-in, show floor hours and move-out. Maintaining security around the clock includes safeguarding fire exits, perimeter doors, loading docks and ramps, and the front entry way to the facility.

Load-in and load-out are managed by facility security and the decorating companies. Trucks are sent to the staging yard where security guides trucks one by one to ramps at the back of the exhibit halls.

The closing of a tradeshow is usually a cause for celebration, but for some, it spells trouble. Post-show parties, networking events and concerts can be another concern for facility security. According to Montoya, some partygoers occasionally need to be assisted away from the event or even back to their hotel if they become inebriated.

With show dates overlapping and multiple shows running simultaneously, facility security at the Sands Expo work tirelessly to keep tradeshows of all sizes safe and secure for exhibitors and attendees.

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