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Article in the Australasian Leisure Management Issue 161, Page 44

Amid regular reports of a rise in aggressive, abusive and angry patrons, Gwen Luscombe talks with Sam Ekinci of Allied Risk Solutions on the increased importance of training staff in incident and confrontation management.

Sam Ekinci (General Manager)

From confrontational guests to abusive patrons, former NSW police officer, Sam Ekinci, the Chief Executive of Allied Risk Solutions (pictured left), is all too aware of the increasing importance of training staff in incident and confrontation management.

After working with the Corporate Affairs Commission and Fraud Squad and Tactical Response Group for the NSW Police, Ekinci has transferred his knowledge into training programs assisting not just licensed venues, but lifestyle, retail, hospitality and even local councils focussing on everything from leadership to armed robbery training.

What was once a component of a larger training program for duty managers, confrontation management has become a standalone product, allowing leisure venues the opportunity to offer customer-facing workers the skills to manage conversations more effectively.

Ekinci says that there’s been a noticeable change in customer behaviour following the pandemic. From an increased sense of entitlement to confrontational behaviour; a trend not just present in gaming, sporting or licensed clubs and venues, but also across other industries such as airports, transport, construction, hospitality, local councils, finance and retail businesses.

Ekinci explains “when we talk about conflict or confrontation, we’re generally talking about the behaviour of the people that are involved. Conflict generally occurs in an environment where that behaviour is not consistent with the standards or performance or behaviours that relate to that person’s expectations while in the venue.

“The challenge is that hospitality venues especially are so strongly regulated and there are also compliance obligations on them to ensure that every person that attends behaves in a particular way. That means that, for example, the NSW Liquor Act, highlights the responsibility of the venue to manage intoxication, violence, quarrelsome or disorderly conduct, minors, smoking within the meaning of the Smoke-Free Environment Act 2000 and anyone who uses or in their possession, any prohibited substances while on the premises.

“And the challenge is that the moment you start talking to people about what they can or can’t do, then you get resistance. So it’s teaching people to understand that no one likes to be told what to do and how to manage that conversation more effectively.”

Venues typically initiate these types of training programs as a means to educate and train staff on legal requirements, but also to assist staff with managing the patron behaviour.
Ekinci advises that this can include simple rules like knowing when to take the “service hat” off and put a “manage hat” on, educating the customer or enforcing the standards, understanding the different personality styles, identifying the cause, behaviours, triggers and outcomes of the behaviours and managing their state using focus, language and psychology.

He notes “I can have the same conversation with one personality compared to another and get a totally different response.

“So that itself is a learning tool and when people attend these courses, there’s a pre-requisite for participants to submit two scenarios where they felt uncertain or compromised in dealing with the incident, due to a lack of understanding as to the behaviour of the person or on how to handle the matter operationally, procedurally and lawfully.”


Post-course coaching and assessments ensure participants can provide evidence of application for the new skill they acquired.

He says during the workshop participants role-play these scenarios with the tools and strategies provided, find an effective approach, and receive and provide feedback to one another so each person can apply the tools with effect.

Ekinci adds “it makes sense for staff to learn the tools to come to work, be content and happy, have conversations with people, and manage the relationships and the process rather than go home frustrated, angry and disillusioned.

“It’s just simply managing behaviours. And regardless of what industry that you go into, the common denominator is behaviour.

“The challenge is when you’re dealing with behaviours you constantly have to refresh people’s understanding to ensure they are applying the learnings as representative of the licensee to act in the interest of all parties concerned as well as addressing their duty of care for those in their charges. That they’re making decisions to manage the person’s behaviour in a way that you’re able to get a win-win from this situation.”
He further explains that confrontation management is a learned skill, creating new habits that serve the communication process and that typically, the 80-20 rule will apply.

Ekinci goes on to say “80% of the time the skills you’ve acquired and what you’ve applied will work but there will be those occasions when the situation is out of your control. That’s when you do need to take a step back and subsequently escalate to authorities like the police, who are in a better position to handle that situation.”

Adding that training also allows for instruction on knowing when that is, he adds “the key component is that when people learn these skills is to embed those skills into the way that they deal with people on a day-to-day basis, creating a new habit.”

The training program, already proving popular with a wide variety of clubs, local councils and customer-facing organisations, is designed to provide staff and management with the knowledge and expertise to manage confrontations effectively to ultimately reduce or defuse aggressive or violent behaviour and create a safer work environment for all.

Gwen Luscombe is an award-winning journalist and a former recipient of the Write It Fellowship with Penguin Random House Australia. She is also a Publisher’s Australia Bell Award-winning editor.

Australasian Leisure Management Issue 161, Page 44