Whether one is travelling around a location on business or recreation, they need hotel accommodation. As it has been observed in the past, Kenyans have a unique holiday culture. Whenever there is a long holiday weekend, it is not unusual for people to travel en masse to destinations such as Mombasa, Malindi, Naivasha and Nyeri to name just but a few.

Christmas and Easter holidays experience the highest level of travel and hotel bookings. It is therefore imperative that one finds hotel accommodation that is secure and safe. On the other hand, most holidaymakers would rather book into a facility whose customer service is friendly and responsive to their needs. Cost is not an issue as holidaymakers and business travelers are always ready to pay for quality services.

With such high expectations, hoteliers have an uphill task of ensuring that they provide a secure environment in their properties. At the same time, this must be coupled up with customer services that are friendly and of international standards. It takes a long time for a business to build its reputation. However, it only takes a matter of minutes to ruin the same.

By taking the aspect of reputation seriously, hoteliers will keep on seeking for ways of keeping patrons visiting their facilities. It only takes one act of crime or one publicity incident to diminish a hotel brand. How then are hoteliers going to keep visitors safe? How will they maintain the reputation they are known for? Below are key solutions in addressing security concerns in hotels:

Maintain customer service with a secure touch

First impressions are always lasting impressions. Hotels invest a lot of resources in recruiting and training front office staff. An ideal customer service set up requires that you adopt the concept of customer first. It is critical for people in the hospitality industry to interact with customers in a friendly manner. However, while doing this, there is need to adhere to certain security protocols. The people who pose the greatest risk of breaching hotel security are normally sharply dressed and highly intelligent. Will front office staff simply let a man go by just because he is dressed in an expensive suit and winks at the ladies manning the reception desk? Does the guest arriving in a sleek Mercedes Benz confuse the security guard into believing that there is no need to search their car?

Review room access key cards

Modern hotel facilities use key card technology to provide access to rooms. Unfortunately, hackers have been able to break into key card software. Hotel room locks are subject to vulnerability. It is upon the hotel security masters to work hand-in-hand with manufacturers and providers of these systems. This partnership should be on a continuous basis. Hotels must keep reviewing their systems in order to avoid unlawful access and prevent the possibility of a security breach. In line with this, hotel staff should update guests on the available security measures. For instance, one should always leave their key card at the reception. Before they retire to bed, guests should ensure that they have locked their rooms with deadbolts, chains or lock bars as the case may be. If guests have carried valuable items with them, they should be encouraged to leave them in a safe deposit box.

Establish protocols for screening all staff

The hotel industry has, for a long time, been a lucrative one. Many people aspire to work in a hotel soon after leaving college. Hoteliers find themselves bombarded with mountains of application letters and CVs of people seeking employment. Leading hotel brands have resorted to putting the recruitment process on an online platform. Nonetheless, this still calls for thorough background screening of all prospective employees. As a matter of fact, hotels should screen their employees at least once every year. The same procedure must be adopted for contractors. Only by doing so will hotels maintain high caliber staffs that are also not a safety concern.

Subject security staff to continuous training

Security personnel manning hotel entrances are always at the greatest risk of a breach. This is because they are the people at the frontline. For this reason, they must remain vigilant at all times. Hotel security guards must therefore be well equipped with the right tools. Not only that, they also need to be trained on how to use security equipment. It is not sufficient for a security guard to walk around a vehicle tagging an under search mirror when they have no idea what it is they are looking for. Also, when a guest walks past a walk-through detector, does the security guard know what to do when there is a warning beep? It takes training to understand such things. This is something hoteliers must be prepared to invest in.

Boost hotel surveillance

It is encouraging to note that hotels have been keen on surveillance. Hotel properties are not equal in terms of size, reputation and star ranking. Nevertheless, hoteliers have invested in top of the range video surveillance and monitoring systems. Without personnel to man footage captured at different locations, video surveillance would be meaningless. For enhanced security, hoteliers must ensure that surveillance systems are in perfect working condition. The system must be able to track all public areas such as loading bays, restaurants, bars, gyms and parking lots. There should be no blind spots.

Maintain a visible security presence

By posting security guards at hotel entrances and public areas, it creates an impression that the premises are secure. This presence should not only be seen during the day; it need be round the clock. The presence of security personnel deters criminal elements. Let guests and other visitors know that they are being watched. This can be achieved through appropriate signage or by a friendly reminder to persons seen veering off to no-go areas. People hold hotels in high esteem. A welcoming environment is perfect for guests and good for business. However, maintaining such high standards calls for identifying and addressing security vulnerabilities. This can only be achieved through staff training and continuous monitoring of hotel premises.

Picture: Polana Serena Hotel, Maputo, Mozambique

…hotels must keep reviewing their systems in order to avoid unlawful access and prevent the possibility of a security breach…



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