6 security best practices for your hotel
20 AUGUST 2015 5:53 AM
Recent natural disasters and terror attacks on hotels left me wondering: How well do you know your hotel’s safety procedures, and could you be doing more?
It’s very simple in our business to, well, oversimplify the benefits of travel. Yes, travel is fulfilling and rewarding in so many ways. Americans, for one, are traveling more for leisure. Business travel around the world is picking up. It’s a 100% undisputable fact that more people are demanding hotel rooms across all segments.
Now let me be a Debbie Downer for just a minute. Travel is not all fun and games.
Our industry goes hand in hand with one of the largest and most lucrative global industries, which is, of course, tourism. Tourism is and can be a force for so much positive change (not to mention economic impact) around the world, but tourists themselves can be a vulnerable target. If our industry is playing a part in making their experiences great, we also play a part in keeping them safe.
This week’s bombing of a Hindu shrine in Bangkok that resulted in at least 20 deaths as of press time is just the latest in the string of headlines we know all too well that recount attacks on not just native citizens but also visitors from all around the world.
“They want to destroy our economy, our tourism,” Thailand Prime Minister Prayuth Chan-ocha told reporters about the blast.
There are many such examples of terror attacks on tourists—and hotels—in the recent history of our industry, ranging from the 2008 terrorist attacks in Mumbai, India; to June’s attacks on a Tunisian beach adjacent to several resorts that killed nearly 30 people, many of them tourists.
The Tunisia attacks took place along beachfront in a popular resort district, where resorts such as the Hotel Riu Imperial Marhaba blend seamlessly from hotel property to beach property.
After this incident, I spoke with Anthony Roman, founder and CEO of Roman & Associates and a 37-year veteran in all fields of security, including counterterrorism strategy. I wanted to get his take on what attacks like this really mean in terms of hotel and resort security, and what hoteliers in similar situations can do to be as prepared as possible to protect their guests and employees and, ultimately, tourism in their regions.
One thing he alerted me to right away is that hotels, by their very nature, are more vulnerable to attacks.
“Hotels, museums and other public entities … that invite the public in one fashion or another are always at higher risk,” he said. “Hotels are at the higher end of that risk group list because they are one of the few business models in which the invited public becomes an inhabitant. You have responsibility to provide a secure environment.”
The public nature of hotels is a big risk because, as Roman pointed out, the attacker can observe the location from the outside in, study it to find weak links or criminal opportunities.
Scary thoughts, right?
To stay on top of security, Roman said all hoteliers—no matter their property’s location, size or circumstance—must be aware of threats coming from all potential directions, whether from guests, staff or public citizens.
Here are a couple best practices Roman shared:
- The most effective security is proactive rather than reactive: “The attack in Tunisia went on for about 35 minutes before the assailant was shot and killed,” he said. “Clearly, the hotel was unprepared for this type of attack.”
- Layering security covers holes: Knowing your property layout and covering all levels with security is vital, Roman said. This is especially important when hotel property butts up against public or other private property. Using combinations of a physical security presence plus technology, such as surveillance, makes sure all your bases are covered.
- Know local laws: Hoteliers must know their responsibilities for security within local laws and regulations. Knowing whether issues would result in criminal or civil liabilities can influence security protocols, Roman said.
- Be aware of terror trends: Not every attack is the same, but Roman advised hoteliers to know current trends. Over the past several years, he said many terror events have “evolved to be locally inspired or involve locally trained citizens,” he said. “They’re small-scale, high-body-count attacks that draw global media attention. That’s the new face of terror.”
- Partner with police: Roman said simple partnerships with local law enforcement are an easy, low-cost way to keep security top of mind. “The police should be invited to the property to see it, learn the property’s security and emergency protocols and see the capabilities,” he said. “Likewise, the police department can educate hotel staff on what their own capabilities are and what emergencies they can and cannot handle.”
- Make a formal plan: “A properly planned and executed security program that is all-inclusive—including policy, procedures and protocol—should be formally coordinated,” Roman said. “It requires time and planning but very little money.”
Have other simple, low-cost best practices to share? Add them to the comments below.
Infographic of the week
This one’s a real nerd adventure from The Official Star Wars Fact File in collaboration with The Daily Infographic, but hey, speaking of tourism. … It’s about a year old but has been making the rounds on Twitter recently. I’m sure Rick Steves probably has updates in the works as we speak.
Let me know what you think of this week’s blog or infographic. Share comments below, email me at firstname.lastname@example.org or find me on Twitter @HNN_Steph.
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