This year’s ASIS International Seminars and Conference will be held in Orlando, Florida, this September, and attendees will likely be spending a lot of time around International Drive – the main attraction corridor in Central Florida, and the site of numerous hotels, destinations and the Orange County Convention Center. In such a vital piece of Orlando’s economy, security professionals at these venues are carefully integrating their safety and intelligence measures with good old-fashioned hospitality.
Tim Wood, Director of Security for the Orange County Convention Center, says that he works to foster a “Center of Hospitality” within the center and within the security department. Everyone is training to meet, greet and acknowledge people entering or approaching the convention center, which forms a deterrent to terrorism and crime, he says.
A threat made especially real following the Paris terrorism attacks, Wood says that security’s goal is to disrupt a terrorist’s cycle of surveillance, planning and attacking a venue. By ensuring that a potential attacker’s presence is noted and acknowledged by multiple personnel – in-house security and employees, contract officers and law enforcement alike – it gives the impression that attacking the conference center would be cumbersome, all while providing customer service for legitimate guests.
Wood adds that even contractors for different events, such as decorators or event management, are vested in looking for threats.
Across the street from the convention center is the Hyatt Regency in Orlando – the largest Hyatt convention space in the U.S. According to Fred Prassack, CLSD, Director of Security, every new associate hired to the hotel is deputized for security, spreading the message that employees are “all empowered to take action,” he says. For every new hire’s HR orientation, he serves as a guest speaker, covering fire safety, terrorism and the basics of reading body language (eye contact is imperative, he says). In addition, the hotel provides many online training opportunities for managers and associates on terrorism and active shooter response and preparedness.
At the Mall at Millenia – a high-end shopping center near the north end of International Drive – security personnel aim to “send a subliminal message that they’re serious about security,” says Director of Security Greg Moore. Careful attention to detail within the 1.2-million square-foot mall follows the Broken Window Theory – that an unkempt environment leads to or encourages crime. For Moore, maintenance, security, trash collection and customer service are all crime prevention tactics.
According to Moore, “Concentric security starts with reputation.”
Along with security officer and police patrols and a robust security technology system, the Mall at Millenia also offers tenant stores’ employees active shooter response training and other security education. If a special guest or celebrity is expected, or at a tenant’s request, additional mall security personnel can be posted to an area around a store. Moore says that this accommodating and attentive security posture leads to better tenant relationships and helps the business overall.
“Never underestimate the value of security to your marketing,” he says.
In addition to educating staff and stakeholders, security leaders along International Drive also work closely together to share information and gather threat intelligence through a monthly Sheriff’s Crime Intelligence Breakfast with the Orange County Sheriff’s Department for sectors 5 and 6 (International Drive area and Disneyworld).
According to Wood, who also participates in these breakfasts, many security directors from International Drive tourism locations (hotels, attractions, convention centers) gather for the meeting, along with representatives from the FBI and local law enforcement. An assortment of guest speakers are brought in to discuss recent events or emerging risks, such as the FAA on drones, health department representatives to discuss the Zika virus, and speakers from the Secret Service or the bomb squad.
And this robust security posture is nothing new in Orlando. In 2012, the International Drive Tourist Crime Intelligence Coalition in Orlando, Florida, was the recipient of the ASIS Foundation’s Michael Simeon Award for Public-Private Partnership Excellence due to the group’s Tourist Oriented Police Services (TOPS) and cooperation between law enforcement and private sector security.