Business and recreational travelers demand safe and secure hotel accommodations and responsive and friendly customer service. How can hoteliers ensure that their property provides as secure an environment as possible, while maintaining friendly customer service?
Maintain security minded customer service – Front desk staff and valets are trained to embody a customer first, customer service model. While maintaining friendly, responsive interactions with customers is crucial, it is also important to vigilantly follow all security protocols. What happens when a nicely dressed man asks the valet for his car or stored bags? As a matter of course, does the valet validate the request against identification, room card or ticket, or do they take the man at his word that that the Gucci luggage and Mercedes Benz are indeed his own? Does the front desk require identification when providing replacement access cards to those who have misplaced or lost their cards?
Keycard access review – With a few pieces of hardware and minor programming, it is possible for a criminal to gain undetectable entree to millions of key card protected hotel rooms. Hoteliers should remind all guests of the security safeguards they offer and remind guests to use their lock bars and chains and dead bolts when retiring for the evening. Room safes or securing valuables at the front desk should also be recommended if available.
Establish evergreen background screening protocol – Background screening should be an evergreen process. Re-screening employees annually can help hoteliers maintain the high level of quality staff they desire.
Control after hours access – For maximum safety, posting security personnel at front entrance and other access points is vital. Also ensure that your up-to-date closed circuit system is tracking all of the hotel’s public areas, including the parking lot, gym, restaurants, loading dock, etc.
Assess location and local crime statistics – CAP Index is recognized as the authoritative leader in quantifying the overall likelihood of crime or loss affecting a location’s safety, operational goals, or profitability. This knowledge is power and can lay the groundwork for your hotel’s safety and security plan.
Security officers that welcome and protect – Hotels must foster an inviting atmosphere for guests while ensuring safety and security. Presenting security personnel in a customer service role with officers dressed in upscale business clothing rather than traditional police or military style uniform, makes for a more accessible presence.
Bolster public/private initiatives – Establishing public-private programs that further police and security cooperation in the protection of people and property helps to enhance safety and security. When private security works in partnership with law enforcement to respond to these issues, police officers have more time to focus on solving crimes and enforcing the law.
Maintain emergency response plan and team – The collaboration between law enforcement and private security needs to extend beyond on-the-spot information sharing. Proactive security efforts and emergency planning initiatives should also involve everyone with a vested interest in safety and security. Existing plans should be reviewed annually, and evacuation and response drills, as well as and other training sessions should include those external groups as well. Involving everyone in planning and training will allow plans to be as situational as possible, and also help ensure a more efficient implementation if the worst case scenario does occur.
Part of emergency response and event management plans require the ability to ramp up staff at a moment’s notice. Ensuring that your security team is ready and available when you need them can pay enormous dividends in minimizing the real world impact of a crisis to your brand, staff and guests.
Commitment to ongoing training – Security professionals require continual quality training if they are to be as responsive and knowledgeable as possible. Given that security personnel are placed in the front line of an hotelier’s security force, it is vital that they have all the latest tools needed to handle emergency and crisis situations. Security professionals should be able to access training in a way that benefits their lifestyle whether it is online or classroom training.
Contributed by Bob Chartier, V.P. AlliedBarton Security Services