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[Short Circuit] Tour Security, Managing Details & Selecting the Right Protector for the Job | Sam Alicea
Episode 426th January 2022 • The Circuit Magazine Podcast • BBA Corporate Ltd
00:00:00 00:29:37

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Most people think that protective services begins and ends with just standing next to the protectee, but today’s guest has made a very successful career from doing the exact opposite of that.

On this episode, we’re joined by Sam Alicea who manages and runs the security for multiple tours, both domestically and internationally. He talks about how the touring space is a segment of the industry that a lot of people want to get in, but they don't necessarily know how to. And of course, there are people that do get in, but they aren't doing it the right way, which opens them and the client up to a lot of exposure.

Join us as we talk to Sam to discuss:

  • What he attributes his success in the industry to?
  • With touring being such a demanding field, what are the positives and benefits of touring?
  • What he finds most challenging about being a protector in the touring industry?
  • What are the challenges of working with in-house security?
  • Realizing the importance of venue managers and how to break the barrier?
  • Managing conflicts on the team – tips/techniques/tactics?
  • And the qualities/attributes sought when hiring people in the touring space.

Tune in to this lively conversation about the field of entertainment and touring. As Sam tells us:

“It's a game really. It's a game that we're in and you've got to win the game EVERY SINGLE NIGHT.”

 

About Sam:

Sam Alicia is an experienced Executive Protection practitioner who specializes in Protective Operations Implementation as well as Advance Planning & Logistics. A former member of Law Enforcement, his area of expertise involves the coordinating and implementation of high visibility security details as it relates to working with clients in the entertainment touring, political, and corporate sectors internationally. He can be reached at Sam@TourSecuritySolutions.com.

More about the Circuit:

The Circuit Magazine is written and produced by volunteers, most of who are operationally active, working full time in the security industry. The magazine is a product of their combined passion and desire to give something back to the industry. By subscribing to the magazine you are helping to keep it going into the future. Find out more >

If you liked this podcast, we have an accompanying weekly newsletter called 'On the Circuit' where we take a deeper dive into the wider industry. Opt in here >

The Circuit team is:

  • Elijah Shaw
  • Jon Moss
  • Shaun West
  • Phelim Rowe

Connect with Us: 

Circuit Magazine

BBA Connect

NABA Protector

British Bodyguard Association

Transcripts

[:

Sam Alicea: it's a game really, right. It's a game that we're in and you've got to win the game every night. 


[:

Elijah: today. I've got a really cool guest. 


What's interesting about this one is I talked to this guy pretty much every day anyway, but the the great part about it is that we're going to have a conversation that's dedicated to a specific topic like we always do in a short circuit. And today we'll be speaking with Sam, Alicea. And we're going to be talking about. 


A couple of different things, but the one thing I do want to focus on is what Sam does in the touring space, particularly, managing and running, the security for, multiple tours, both domestically and internationally. So first out. I'm good brother. 


[:

Sam Alicea: Good to talk to you again. 


[:

Elijah: It is a little bit weird, right? 


Cause we talk all the time. I guess I full disclaimer to everybody here, Sam and I worked together and have worked together for years. He's I kind consider him the backbone of my company, but he's got a wealth of knowledge. And so I just thought it, it would be doing a disservice if I had the Short Circuit. 


Brought on everybody else who would be subject matter experts. And then I didn't get a chance to pick Sam's brain on the podcast. So thanks for coming on, Bro. I know you had a lot of stuff going on, 


[:

Sam Alicea: absolutely. I appreciate it. And it's it's good to be here. It's going to be on this

[:

Elijah: Good stuff, man. So I'm sure you've heard they short circuit before, but I like to start off with kind of three rapid-fire questions. You don't have to require a lot of thought, just the first thing that comes to mind, but it sets the tone for the rest of the episode. 


So the first one I want to ask you what's the best thing about the protective services industry to you? 


[:

Sam Alicea: Wow. I tell you, you have to have a love for it. That's one thing and a compassion. So to be at the end of the day, when it's all said and, done it's, everybody's safe. That's the best thing. That's all I want to know everybody. 


[:

Elijah: So it's just, it's rewarding for you for a job. Well done. 


[:

Sam Alicea: Absolutely. Absolutely. 


[:

Elijah: All right. So here comes the flip side of that, bro. So what's the worst thing about the business 


[:

Sam Alicea: The worst thing about the business is for me dealing with folks that, that say they're one thing. However, when you see their skill sets, they're totally That's the worst thing for me. And again, operationally, right? For 


[:

Elijah: Sure, absolutely. And we'll dig into that in a little bit too about exactly what a big emphasis of what you do and how you do it. And then the third and final question is. And here we go. So I want you to name one person living a dead, 


[:

Elijah Shaw: past or present. 


[:

Elijah: that you would like to provide or would have liked to provide protective services. 


Sam Alicea: Easy, John F Kennedy.. 


[:

Elijah: Oh, man. All right. That's the first time I've heard that word. We've got a long list from Nelson mandela. In fact, somebody even said, Jesus. So JFK, I guess that's self-explanatory there. I guess you would have changed history. 


[:

Sam Alicea: Yeah. I would love to have. 


[:

Elijah: Good. Good stuff, Sam. Good stuff. All right, brother. I want to dig into the meat and potatoes and again obviously I'm very intimately familiar with your background, but in a. In the protective services world, you spend a lot of your time on the operational side. A lot of the things that happen behind the scenes to make a detail run, to pick the right people for a detail to troubleshoot the problems, all those things. 


You're intimately familiar with and have done for years. And so one of the focuses that I want to talk about is you and that touring space because that's the segment of the industry. That a lot of people want to get in, but they don't necessarily know how to do that. And then of course, when you, and I talk about this all the time, there are people that get in it and they aren't doing it the right way. 


And then usually that kind of, opens them up to a lot of exposure, opens the client up to a lot of exposure and they can also get dis-invited to the party. 


[:

[:

Elijah: But here's the first thing. So most people think that protective services begins and ends with just standing next to the protect D I can attest you've had a successful career, sometimes just doing the opposite of that. 


So what do you attribute that. 


[:

Sam Alicea: Um, well, you know, Having obviously started in the industry, I didn't just jump into what I do now. Having been on several details and understanding the nuances of the entire scope of a detail. Is where I started realizing there's obviously other avenues too, especially in the entertainment industry. 


We, we really just hone in on just the entertainment industry. 


Obviously you've got corporate in and So many other facets, but in the entertainment industry, in and of itself there's more to just standing next to, as you said, next to the Protectee and I think a lot of folks that may could get into the industry and they're looking into. 


That segment of the industry, as far as the entertainment segment, I think they're, they have tunnel vision and think that's what it's all about. Just being a groupie. However, there's so much more to it than just. 


[:

Elijah: Got it. So right, because the, visual, the 20 second TMZ clip, or, the thing on Instagram might show the protectee and, maybe you spot the bG in the background, but again, there's a lot more moving pieces, particularly for that to happen. 


[:

Sam Alicea: Correct. 


[:

Elijah: And, you, my brother, again, I know you've been all over the world and many of those trips have been with me. 


What's been the coolest thing. Like what have you enjoyed most about touring? Cause obviously it takes you away from home and family, et cetera, but what have you enjoyed about the process? 


[:

Sam Alicea: I guess it may sound cliche. It probably sounds very cliche, but at the end of the day, And again, I think I just mentioned that just a few moments ago that everybody's home safely, especially obviously you're a principal, but in a tour setting, obviously you've got the entire staff and those that are on tour and, it's interesting because. 


You get there early to at least I do get there. First thing in the morning, 


you get there. First thing in the morning to a venue you're at a, at an arena. And I walk in there and besides you've got the rigors and folks that are getting the stage and everything ready, but. The arena's completely empty. 


There's no one, there's no one in the seats. And to me, it's that, that, that fulfillment the feeling of knowing that, first of all, I'm in here and first thing in the morning, there's no one here. I know that there's going to be challenges throughout the day. And things that I'm going to have to overcome. 


You've got the show at the end of the show principles. Once those tour buses are out of the arena and everybody is gone. That feeling of, to me almost every night, it's a feeling of success because it's a game really, right. It's, a game that we're in and you've got to win the game every night. 


You don't have, you don't have room to lose the game. That's why I say it's kind of cliche, saying that, Hey, at the end of the day, this is 


what I'm pleased about, but that's what it is. I think that's the most rewarding thing for me. And I think that's the best thing about tour. Of course, other people may say you get to 


travel and see the world and et cetera, et cetera. However, on tour. You can go to Paris five times on tour and see the Eiffel tower from the tour bus, but never get a chance to actually quote unquote, see the Eiffel tower because you're just moving. 


So sure. That's fun. And being able to travel and see the world But to me, it was just a rewarding thing at the end 


[:

Elijah: I get it, bro. And, it might be a little cliche in a general sense, but I know it's true with you. And one of the part of it is because of the dedication that you have to the craft. 


And I'm not just saying that because you're on this call with me and I'm not just saying this because we work together, but it's, I get to observe you from a distance to. 


And I know that when the guys turn in for the night, you're still working on a project or you're working on either the current one or the next one. And then the next morning you're up at that point. And then you're also troubleshooting all the things that happen during the day. And you mentioned that it is a game or it's like a puzzle and you got to put all the pieces, in the right place and you have to win this. 


And a variety of challenges, particularly that entertainment sector, particularly in a touring environment, which is extremely dynamic, what do you find the most challenging operationally when you're out there, which is different than when you're in the office, you have much more control over the things that are going on, but when you're out there in the field in real time, trying to manage all these things, what do you find the most challenging? 


[:

Sam Alicea: One of the biggest challenges I see is every day, right? A different location every day. You're a different venue. So when you walk in every day, there's different personalities, you have to deal with as far as the administration, from each venue. And. I think one of the biggest challenges is dealing with all of those objections that are going to come your way, that, they're going to come, they're coming and there's different objections or the, I should say the objectors, that are going to be the objectors. 


So they the objectives and every day, You're going to go in and it's a different set of folks. So it's a different security director is going to be a different security supervisor. It's going to be it's different person every day. So you've got that challenge of being able to have to overcome all those objections that you may come come across on a daily basis. 


[:

Elijah: it. And, I think one of the issues is that depending on the experiences they've had with other teams before, they might already have a jaded idea about whatever the detail is, that's now moving into their space. 


[:

Sam Alicea: Correct? Correct. So one of the biggest things that you have to overcome as far as those objections that they already have a preconceived. Idea as to who's coming in, whether they've had bad experiences with other security personnel, whether they've had experiences with other security personnel that didn't have formal training. 


So their mind is in their mind, they're thinking, oh, here's the. Another bodyguard, right? Or another security guy that I've got to deal with. Who's just the same guy that was here yesterday that was dealing with that had no idea what he was doing. So they have those kinds of preconceived ideas in their mind. 


So you've got to, you have to be able to overcome that and build that relationship quickly. And it has to be done quickly. You only have just a few hours to get things. So you got to overcome that and show them that you know what you're doing and that you're professional. 


And once you can get around that you can start building that relationship and it has to be done quickly in a matter of hours, 


[:

Elijah: because from their perspective and we've talked to a lot of, venue managers. This is their house. And then all of a sudden, us visitors, and even though, we might be representing the client who might be a marquee name. 


We come in and, we start throwing our weight around. and so if it's not done tactically, they're automatically going to put up a diff come into a defensive stance. 


Right. 


[:

Sam Alicea: Absolutely. So there's always that wall, that, that is there, that you've got, you have to get that you have to bring that wall down 


because again, it is their home. So you're coming in and you're basically telling them this is what we want to do for the day. And they do things a certain way, the way they always do it, they do it for, every show for every event. And you may have decide for whatever particular reason that you'd like, to do something that's not the norm for them. And you need to convince them that what you would like to be done is the way to go for the night. Maybe not be here tomorrow night, someone 


At night, this is the way he needs to go. 


[:

Elijah: So I got to ask, and I'll put you on the spot a little bit here, and as what Mark James calls the secret sauce, so how have you been, like, what's your technique or a portion of your technique that helps you break through that chip through that barrier? 


[:

Sam Alicea: One of the things that I think a lot of folks need to understand in this industry is that we, a lot of what we do is communication. A hundred percent communication. We have to not have those skills to be able to communicate with these individuals in order to. Get what we want done. 


And there's, everybody talks about that verbal judo, right? you use, you can use verbal judo and multiple different types of ways. And to me, you have to have that personality. You have to be able to communicate. And in a specific way to have, again, like you said, Mark James talks about that secret sauce. 


the secret sauce is you can't come across as that knuckle dragging body guard or that security team that's going to stay in there and say, this is the way it's going to be done. Whether you like it or not, that's not going to fly. It's just not going to fly. 


[:

Elijah: Sure. So there's some tack to it. Huh? 


[:

Sam Alicea: Absolutely. You have. 


[:

Elijah: it. So let's stay on that topic for a second. When you talk about communication and how we relate to others. In that case, then we were talking about how the protective detail relates to the venue, security and venue operations, but, for. A lot of the tours, we're in hopefully a fortunate position where we can work with a team where maybe it's, normally if you, 


with your protectee it's you as a solo operator, or you might be blessed to have a two man team, in, in a touring environment, you might have additional security resources. 


And, again, I can speak from my personal experiences, you run some pretty large teams there. And so let's talk about communication as it relates to that, because we know when you put a team together, you're going to have different personalities. And particularly when you're out on the road for an extended period, you're going to have those personality conflicts. 


So how do you, and in your role, how do you manage those conflicts? 


[:

Sam Alicea: There are, there, there are conflicts that will arise. It's just it's in the nature of having a team. I think one of the, one of the things that. But I tried to understand is to try to figure out what the conflict is. Is it really a personality conflict, or perhaps it might just be a conflict where certain individual, because of their personality is understanding the 


job in a certain way. 


[:

Elijah: Okay. 


[:

Sam Alicea: You may have one personality and you may interpret what your role and your responsibilities are in a certain way. Another personality would will interpret that differently and they will do the same job differently because of their personalities. Does that necessarily mean there's a conflict in personalities or is it more of a conflict because of how they perceive what they're supposed to do? 


So one thing is. I try to figure that out first and whether or not it's actually a personality conflict, or it's just because of a person's personality. They do the job a certain way. I don't know if that makes sense. I don't know if that makes 


[:

Elijah: No. no, no. I'm feeling you could, because I think what you're saying. is that got to get a sense from each person, what the issue is. And a lot of times the issue is just their understanding or maybe their misunderstanding of the role. 


[:

Sam Alicea: Correct. 


[:

Elijah: so I think where, when, management, from operational. 


I challenge is to decipher that and, be able to bridge that gap. Now, obviously sometimes that can happen. And to your point where you mentioned earlier, when you're on a tour, you've got a limited amount of time and a limited amount of resources. We never have as many resources we need to. 


So you got to get those problems solved quickly. 


[:

Sam Alicea: Yes, absolutely. Absolutely. a hundred percent. And w with that said also it's that unrealistic expectations. 


This is the particular individual have unreal, realistic expectations of the job and another team member there's conflict there because they're thinking, okay, there's some unrealistic expectations as to what's supposed to be happening here, but it's not necessarily a personality conflict 


[:

Elijah: So a lot of it can get boiled down to a misunderstanding. 


[:

Sam Alicea: correct? 


[:

Elijah: I'm tracking. so w if we're talking about a tour and we know that I kinda describe it like a tour of the combination of the routine. And the unpredictable, 


right? Every day you go into a venue, like you said, that venue is empty, going to be filled with thousands of people. 


You're going to have to separate the front of house from the back of house and make sure all these safeguards are in place. That's the routine because you repeat that. The next show, the unpredictable is. When these things occur that you didn't have in the playbook for that day, something's going to happen. 


Whether the P says, Hey, I'm going to bring this guest artists on stage, or I'm going to jump in the crowd or, or, obviously a variety of things. So I guess my question is cause for some people, they can't deal with. Those two things simultaneously, some people are built for structure. 


Some people, the unpredictable, they can thrive in that chaos. But when you have to have one foot in both worlds, some people just have a meltdown or they don't do anything. So how do you balance that? 


[:

Sam Alicea: Yeah, definitely. On tour. You don't know, the next hour, let alone the next day what's going to happen at another venue. So every venue is 


different. So there's definitely unpredictable situations that come up. But I think the biggest thing for me is. What I try to do is prioritize 


whatever the issue is or what the challenge is for the day or for the given moment. 


There may be a few things that come up in the scope of a day that have to be handled. But I try to prioritize once I figure that out, I prioritize that I adapt, which is the biggest thing that I think a lot of people need to understand in the touring sector is that you need to adapt. There's always something you have to adapt to, but I try to prioritize then. 


And then prioritize again in order 


[:

Elijah: So you're 


[:

Sam Alicea: be able to handle all the challenges of constantly adapting and they're prioritizing what they are. I try to think ahead as to some of the situations that may arise at particular venue or whatever. And then I always try to have a plan B for sure. I always try to have a plan B and I think that with a plan B, it probably more than likely for me. That frustration of all these challenges at bay. And it minimizes that if I don't have a plan B to basically 


follow 


[:

Elijah: Because what you're saying is you're saying your plan B is. If you already have it, then it's not a surprise if you have to implement So you don't have to pull your hair out because you already got it in the chamber. 


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Sam Alicea: But the 


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Elijah: get it man. I 


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Sam Alicea: is you constantly have to adapt. It's just a And move on the fly. It's the biggest I think it's the biggest trait that you can have especially on a tour is the ability to adapt with. 


[:

Elijah: So, there's a couple of things I've got this conversation. One is the ability to communicate and then two is the ability to adapt. So those are like vital components. 


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Sam Alicea: Yes, 


[:

Elijah: And again, I know we're going to have listeners that might have an interest in this segment of the marketplace and perhaps they don't know how to get in. 


So from your perspective, as someone who hires protective agents that go on tour, those two things not withstanding, what are some of the things that you look for when you're hiring? 


[:

Sam Alicea: Well, Of course operationally, there's no substitution for training, right? So we, we definitely want individuals that have the proper training and the background. However, when you hone it down, To specifically Turing, if you're look, I'm looking for folks that have one, it goes back to the very beginning of our conversation. 


We talked about personalities just a few moments 


[:

Elijah: Hm. 


[:

Sam Alicea: You want to understand some of these personalities of these individuals, hopefully if you've had any. I guess interaction with these individuals, what their personalities are like from a resume, it's hard to figure out someone's personality. 


But if you've had any interaction with them, I've worked with them before. If you vet them correctly you can definitely find out a person's personality. So that's definitely number one. Somebody's personality traits, their communication skills. Depending on maybe some previous jobs they've had you can basically. Figure out the, if they have that kind of communication skills that you need, because there's a lot of problem solving as far as a tour is concerned. 


And again, we're talking about that adapting. So problem solving skills is a plus. And then as far as getting into the industry, I would just suggest to most everyone. Don't go for the, don't go for the big fish, right? If you just want to keep it simple, right? They'll go for the big fish. There, there are plenty of venues. 


There are plenty of things that you could do it in your in your hometown, whether it's a convention center or work in these venues and understand basically. The nuances of events and event security, because it world tour is just that on a larger scale, it's on a huge scale. But if you can get into working at a location where you're doing venue security, and you're working. At a location where you're doing stuff back a house and you understand some of those nuances there, you definitely will be able to get your foot in the door a lot easier than someone who has no clue whatsoever of anything. As far as touring is concerned. 


[:

Elijah: So I just want to make sure we're clear here. So you're not saying that. The person who's an usher. When you walk into, a rolling stones concert, they take your ticket. They're qualified to provide protective services on a tour with the major artists. Is that? you, 


[:

Sam Alicea: no 


[:

Elijah: but you're saying that being in that world will expose you. Right and get your comfort level. And cause I agree with that. And one of the things you could have someone with a really impressive resume, but if you put them in that sense, There's nothing to say that they won't get starstruck, Oh, absolutely. 


Yeah. Or overwhelmed, all of these people, et cetera. And and and again, I know I'm preaching to the choir here because you've seen it, 


How does a person communicate that to potential decision-maker someone's, Hey Sam, I want to do this touring stuff. 


I've got, X amount of years of experience inEP. w why are you going to pay attention to them over someone else? What's going to make them stand out for you, 


[:

Sam Alicea: Definitely the biggest thing is I want to know what kind of venues they've worked in. I want to know what kind of details they've worked as far as is it just this? And again, we talk about EP 


and all these ninjas and skills and all this, we hear it all the time on social media and all the skillsets which definitely we need 


without a doubt, we need it, but I want to know, Where have they worked? Where, what types of events have they worked at? What were they doing at those events? Were they doing were they working in the pit? Were they working, 


And the back of house, what were their roles and responsibilities at different venues when they've worked venue security, but definitely that's something that I want to look into. 


What types of venues they've worked at? What types of events. 


[:

Elijah: No, I get it. And I really think, and you touched on it, the communication piece. It's so vital because they have to successfully communicate that to you. They've got to communicate that to that decision maker that, Hey, if you put me in this position, I won't embarrass you. I won't fumble the ball when it comes to my way. 


And, I think that's one of the biggest hurdles, because there are people that end up in these roles. And they aren't qualified for them, and those are the ones that you you know, on YouTube or on TMZ because that moment of truth happened, and how they responded. 


Maybe they reverted to their lowest level of training. If all their training was in, in college football and somebody jumps on the stage, you can't blame them for tackling them, and so part of that has to be, they have to give you a sense that. Level-headed enough, or even tempered enough can take instructions and follow instructions well enough that you would trust them, you, that you would put your name to them to bring them onboard. Is that right? 


[:

Sam Alicea: Absolutely. And like you just mentioned, I think that there's a time and a place for all those different skillsets, like you said, Yeah, go ahead and tackle somebody when necessary, but that's not the 100% 


The default. 


right. That you exactly a default. that they need to go to. So without a doubt that's definitely, those skillsets are very important. 


[:

Elijah: That's great, man. I know. I got a lot out of this 


conversation because it gives me a little bit of insight into how your brain works, but I got you to articulate it versus you just make it happen. Like you've done for me for all these years and stuff. But I'm sure other people got some value with it. 


Again, if if you have any interest in connecting with Sam, he's. He's not active on social media, but he's always there behind the scenes. And so I know one of the ways that you can reach out to. him is in the, NABA protector app. Sam's one of the administrators there, 


you can drop him a line there. If you want to know about getting some more information in that space and my brother, thank you very much for jumping on here with me. I know we'll be talking tomorrow about a variety of other things. 


[:

Sam Alicea: Absolutely 


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Elijah: I appreciate you , 


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Sam Alicea: man, it was an honor.