Hospitality management instructor Dede Hamm was part of Jason Aldean's 2018 summer tour while researching her case study on the 2017 Route 91 Harvest Festival tragedy in Las Vegas.

Dede Hamm

Hospitality management instructor Dede Hamm was part of Jason Aldean’s 2018 summer tour while researching her case study on the 2017 Route 91 Harvest Festival tragedy in Las Vegas.

FAYETTEVILLE, Ark. – A chance meeting at a conference between U of A’s Dede Hamm and country artist Jason Aldean’s production manager and security consultant led to a summer tour and case study on stakeholder and risk management she has incorporated into event management classes.

Hamm is a hospitality management instructor in the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Science’s School of Human Environmental Sciences. The hospitality management concentration includes courses in event management, which is also available as a minor.

Aldean was on stage in Las Vegas for the Route 91 Harvest Festival in 2017 when a gunman, Stephen Paddock, opened fire on the crowd from his Mandalay Bay hotel room, killing 58 people and resulting in hundreds of injuries.

After discussing the tragedy with Aldean’s staff, she was invited to go on the road for several concert dates in the summer of 2018.

Hamm completed the case study and incorporated it into her Event Safety and Venue Management class.

“We are trying to teach students to engage with local emergency responders early in the planning process so they are aware of upcoming events,” Hamm said. “The tragedy could have been less deadly if planners had been more proactive in communicating with local emergency agencies during the planning.”

Hamm and Ching-Hui (Joan) Su at Iowa State University collaborated on the case study, “The Importance of Event Stakeholders: A case study of the Route 91 Harvest Festival Shooting,” which was published in the Journal of Hospitality & Tourism Cases by the International Council on Hotel, Restaurant, and Institutional Education.

In the study, Hamm said event planners must always consider how to protect attendees, staff and assets from violence. She said while it’s impossible to plan for every scenario at every event, planners must use available resources, which includes involving various stakeholders.

By studying this incident, she hopes students:

  • Improve understanding of the importance of identifying event stakeholders
  • Recommend improvements to the event planning process by involving stakeholders
  • Investigate and identify community resources for emergency planning

Planning for any event includes identifying primary and secondary stakeholders -individuals or organizations who may be affected by an event and can provide expertise, advice and input.

A review of the incident revealed the Las Vegas Metropolitan Police Department had not dedicated a dispatcher for the concert due to standard policy because it was expected to attract fewer than 25,000 attendees. As the event unfolded, the emergency dispatch system became overwhelmed with calls. Local fire department personnel were not included in planning and staffing, and were not aware of the event, which impacted emergency response.

“This is really about identifying all stakeholders and realizing that local emergency services are a great resource during the planning process,” Hamm said. “In this case, the planners followed the policy put forth by the city, but emergency responders were put at a disadvantage since they weren’t aware the event was taking place. Lack of knowledge hindered their ability to respond effectively to the violence.”

The International Council on Hotel, Restaurant, and Institutional Education is a global and multicultural community of hospitality and tourism professionals dedicated to the pursuit, discovery, advancement, and sharing of knowledge and experiences, relevant to the hospitality and tourism industry and its future leaders.

About the Dale Bumpers College of Agricultural, Food and Life Sciences: Bumpers College provides life-changing opportunities to position and prepare graduates who will be leaders in the businesses associated with foods, family, the environment, agriculture, sustainability and human quality of life; and who will be first-choice candidates of employers looking for leaders, innovators, policy makers and entrepreneurs. The college is named for Dale Bumpers, former Arkansas governor and longtime U.S. senator who made the state prominent in national and international agriculture. For more information about Bumpers College, visit our website, and follow us on Twitter at @BumpersCollege and Instagram at BumpersCollege.

About the University of Arkansas: The University of Arkansas provides an internationally competitive education for undergraduate and graduate students in more than 200 academic programs. The university contributes new knowledge, economic development, basic and applied research, and creative activity while also providing service to academic and professional disciplines. The Carnegie Foundation classifies the University of Arkansas among only 2.7 percent of universities in America that have the highest level of research activity. U.S. News & World Report ranks the University of Arkansas among its top American public research universities. Founded in 1871, the University of Arkansas comprises 10 colleges and schools and maintains a low student-to-faculty ratio that promotes personal attention and close mentoring.