Creating a Secure Environment
We need to come clean about changing the typical approach to security.
Violence in and around nightlife venues is sporadic- it comes and goes and is always a concern when any small provocation of a patron who may be unable to hold his drink lashes out.
The average clubgoer does not expect to be injured — or worse — during his or her night on the town, and no venue owner expects it will happen on his or her property. And when the authorities become involved they often seek to apportion blame.
We, as the busines owners and managers, are almost always first on the hit list, with those in the local community pointing a stern finger at the venue itself when a transgression surfaces. As many operators, owners and authorities will admit, the venue can play a role in a fight. Although owners and managers increasingly strive to everything possible to ensure a guest’s safety, they find themselves at the mercy of patrons who simply are behaving poorly.
“Individuals who engage in violence are responsible for their own behavior,” Jim Peters, founder and president of the US Responsible Hospitality Institute, explains and this is often a result of the poor economic times.
In the US the increased frequency and violence of the attacks is linked with the downturn in the economy. With both the nightlife district having to be more competitive and cast a wider net to attract new clientele while patrons are facing under or unemployment and, as a result, are more agitated before they leave their homes.
The demographics of a typical fighting patron haven’t changed much over the years. With a tendency towards younger guests. Beyond that, anyone is capable of causing a fight, regardless of race or economic background: there’s no set profile for who will cause trouble inside a venue. Also, there is general agreement that the larger the group, the higher the risk of an unsavory situation. And it isn't necessarily just guys that cause trouble either.
The message on TV, especially cable with a proliferation of reality TV, and the popularity of settling disputes with a fist-fight that may enable patrons to justify their actions, or take the behaviour of the TV personalities as accepted behaviour.
One city that dealt with a fight culture developing was Edmonton, Canada, they did it via a simple social-media campaign aimed directly at the instigators.
The program’s messaging was simple. ‘Be a Lover, Not a Fighter.' That slogan, which appealed to the mind-set of younger males, also gave the women something to say to the guys when they got out of control. The city handed out kits that contained a condom or a Band-Aid, — which said, ‘Which would you rather use tonight?’ eportedly, its been highly effective.
There are plenty of things an business operator can do for prevention. For example, proactively prevent guests from turning bottles and glasses into weapons, replacing them with plastic on heavy nights.
Alternatively, busnesses can pay closer attention to how you seat clients.
Seat the room according to the crowd. You don’t want large tables of guys posturing next to a similar group. Sometimes there’s tension between two tables, so you pick up one table, tell them you’re moving to a better spot and then the tension calms.
At Dusk, fighting is “absolutely not a problem,” Millstein says. And it’s because of what the club doesn’t do.
Rethink your approach, rather than having "security" consider them crowd-control specialists. And train them to become "ambassadors", and encourage them to role-play how to best interact with your guests. Focus on not touching guests. Consider using women specialists on the door and at the women’s bathrooms so girls don’t feel threatened. Don’t use swear words with anyone. Have sobriety checkpoints on the way in where you can spot over-served patrons immediately. Even pay attention to the air conditioning as a hot room can lead to angry guests.
Ultimately, the reaction to violence in our business needs to have a combination of responses. First, the business has to be prepared for anything, to remain in a good balance — including keeping a proper ratio of guys to girls in your venue — and retain control over crowds, and ensure bar and wait staff understanhd how to manage potentially intoxicated patrons.
Clubs need to educate their patrons and establish a no nonsence reputation. Guests should understand through your words and consistent actions that they must be responsible for their own behaviour when they are in your venue.
An advanced approach to Security
Thorough ID checks, adequate and well-trained security personnel, responsible drink service for the basis of a sound approach to security.
Steps bar and club owners and manager are or should be taking to head off violent incidences and protect their patrons and staff, as well as their businesses, include:
• Go high tech: Appropriate ID checking, video-surveillance cameras and even motion detectors can help prevent intoxicated or unruly guests from entering a venue, and their presence signals to possible malcontents that you are watching. What’s more, such technology can alert staff to a scuffle and document any drama that occurs inside or outside of the venue.
• Use a soft touch: Training security staff in intervention tactics and language skills that help diffuse developing situations does pay off. When security acts less like stereotypical bouncers — ready to spring into action and bust some heads — and more like ambassadors or crowd control specialists with a ready with a smile, guests will be more likely to ask for assistance should an issue arise. Additionally, positive interactions, such as helping a guest find a restroom, allow security to assess patron behaviour. It also sets a civilized tone for the venue.
• Staff appropriately; Staff your door properly so wait time is minimal, and consider other areas in your venue in which patrons could become agitated with service levels, available seating or other facets of their experience. Agitation can lead to aggressive behaviours.
• Be realistic about special events: When booking a hot DJ or hosting a party for a celebrity, invest in extra crowd control personnel and systems. An evening designed to draw a huge crowd and raise your profile and profits can backfire quickly if an incident occurs because you didn’t anticipate the crowd-control needs created by an excited mob of partiers.