Safety & Security

Accommodation Security: DIY, in-house or outsource?

When terrorist attacks occur, security becomes a very serious priority. When peace resumes the focus comes off security.

When an accommodation complex is violated by a major crime, the focus switches back to security factors. In between times, security managers often (and justly) complain that they are considered expendable due to the fact that the other parts of the accommodation industry perceive them as adding nothing to the bottom line – an added and required expense that must be just accepted.

Accommodation security is not simply a necessary burden that most be paid for but, if used properly, tourism security is a powerful marketing took that can bring people to one’s accommodation complex, location, attraction or community.

Far from terrorism being a major concern for the average guest, intruder invasion, property larceny and ID theft are more of concern than any politically-motivated bomber. And while these aspects are not highly publicised until a major incident occurs, they are always foremost in the minds of the average traveller.

Security in accommodation complexes is multi-faceted. First you have the guest security as paramount – entry, public areas (especially car parks), front desk (ID) and guest rooms need ultra protection. Secondly, accommodation managers need to ensure staff and other visitors are adequately protected. Thirdly, there is the security of the premises and administrative functions that need to be secured.

How the achieving of security in an accommodation complex is managed depends on the size of the property, the avenues available for a crime to be perpetrated and the amount of risk due to locality, history and criminal activity potential.

Obviously a smaller six-unit motel in a quiet suburb poses a less problem than a 500 room international hotel in a CBD. But the principles are the same – just a matter of scale. A guest in a smaller six-unit motel in a quiet suburb has just as much chance of being violated in some way as one in an international hotel in a major city.

Security – do you do it yourself (hoping the police will arrive in an appropriate time), employ security staff or outsource to security professionals?

The former should be a no brainer – no!

The problem of using your own security staff largely comes down to training. Many of them are given nothing more than a uniform and told to go out and meet the public. This lack of training is clearly not the way to handle hospitality security and often causes more problems and nightmares than help.

Accommodation security is just so multi-faceted: different people, different cultures, different languages, different understandings… and worse, different circumstances.

There exists a belief that security personnel should be neither seen nor heard in some quarters, yet today’s savvy guests appreciate the need for such obvious protection and are generally grateful for their presence. Indeed, it can be quite a marketing tool if applied subtlety.

The reality is that guests are more likely to be subjected to acts of petty crime, personal violation and violence in an accommodation complex than from terrorist acts.

Accommodation providers must be aware that tourists are lucrative targets – they are on vacation, relaxed, focused on enjoyment and carrying large sums of cash, credit cards and other valuables. They are in unfamiliar territory and present themselves as perfect targets for crime.

Tourists are less likely to report crimes, thus crime figures do not reflect reality. What they will do is turn to social media, thus creating a marketing nightmare for the place in which they were victimised. Visitors rarely are willing to return to the crime’s location to testify.

Guest security is more than merely having police patrols pass by once a night or a burly bloke in a uniform on site. Security depends on professionals who are well trained, who understand the importance of customer service and how to differentiate between the security for individual guests and for visitors attending functions, conventions and events.

No matter how big your complex is, seek professional assistance. It’s fine when things are going well – it’s when a security breach occurs that your problems start.
And the outcomes can be formidable.

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