Leadership teams at successful hotels know that security is critically important. But they also know how important it is to run a hotel security program that doesn’t compromise customer service. The right tools and business practices help you do both well.
The business advisory firm Deloitte agrees that finding the right balance of customer service and security is essential for the long-term sustainability of hotels. To help you get a complete picture of your hotel security program, we’ve developed a top-to-bottom hotel safety and security assessment. It walks you through several major aspects of hotel security that you will want to evaluate.
Assessing your hotel's performance in each area will help you discover what is working well, what needs to be improved, and where you can use new technology to gain an edge over the competition.
Tailor security measures to your unique venue
When evaluating the potential threats to a facility, the allure of taking an off-the-shelf, "one size fits all" approach is understandable, yet it almost always proves inadequate. Each hotel is unique, and that includes its security concerns.
If you’re not sure how to prioritize your hotel's security needs, a good first step is conducting a comprehensive hotel security assessment checklist. This is an exhaustive evaluation of vulnerabilities and how they could be exploited. For example, an improperly secured door or lax key control can pose substantial vulnerabilities, needlessly exposing the facility to theft.
Furthermore, a comprehensive risk assessment delves into historical data, encompassing weather patterns, crime statistics, and demographic information. For example, facilities located on the US East Coast must be ready for hurricanes. Likewise, hotel operators in cities with statistically higher crime rates might want to employ uniformed security personnel.
One of the most challenging aspects of hotel security is protecting both hotel and guest assets. Here are four aspects of hotel asset management that all venues should assess.
Larger hotels may benefit from deploying an intelligent asset management system. These systems are best suited for managing expensive hotel equipment that needs consistent and reliable transaction logging, such as mobile devices for service staff.
Guest asset security
If you have safes in guest rooms, confirm that all work properly. Also, consider whether asset lockers might be useful for securing guest assets if your venue needs guests to deposit items at centrally managed locations, such as behind reception desks or at pools. Some locker systems offer electronics charging for better customer service.
Safes are a reliable choice for securing high-value assets that only need to be signed in and out occasionally. As part of your security review, confirm that your safes are functioning properly, physically secured, and out of the view of guests. Also, check whether the keys or access codes for your safes are properly stored.
Cash handling procedures
Cash collections from your front deck, restaurant, and other locations should happen on a varied schedule that is hard for thieves to track. Do you need to make your collection schedule more predictable? Confirm that cash counting is performed in a locked space away from guests. If you use a private cash management agency for transportation, make sure their license is up to date for the current year.
To secure your hotel's facilities, you need various technology, infrastructure, policies, and personnel. Examine your hotel's facility and assess whether you have effective access control measures, vehicle security, key management, and fire protection.
If you don’t have an inventory of all locks in your venue, start creating one. Are there locks on all doors and windows? How about slide-and-chain bolts on guest room doors? Guest room inventories can be easily delegated to service staff as they turn over rooms or perform other tasks.
Are you tracking spare guest keys? Whether your hotel uses swipe cards, proximity cards, or hard keys, make sure you know how many spares you use each quarter. Then, schedule reorders that keep you ahead of that rate.
You should also inventory and test locks on doors to all back-of-the-house spaces. Make sure that those doors are out of sight whenever possible. If staff aren’t considering the security implications, interior design changes can accidentally expose these doors.
Evaluate your guest safety in hotels—including parking facilities. Good lighting and sightlines are the best crime deterrents. Are all lights working? Have any trees or bushes grown to obstruct sightlines from building entrances?
Resorts and hotels with their carts or vehicles need to evaluate their security and vehicle fleet management. Are the vehicles and keys secured when not in use? Can you accurately track who is using them? If you’ve had problems with these tasks, fleet management software might be a good tool to implement as your fleet grows.
Ensure your hotel has a mechanism for tracking and auditing all key usage—facility, vehicle, storage lockers, and all other locking hotel assets. Are all back-of-the-house keys kept in a secure location? If lost or misplaced keys are a common problem at your hotel, consider whether a smart key management system might be able to track keys more cost-effectively.
Hotels are at an increased risk of damage and loss of life from fires. That is because of their large footprint and revolving client base, who typically need to become more familiar with specific local hazards and emergency procedures. So, a minor oversight can quickly escalate into a major catastrophe.
For proactive fire prevention, security-conscious hotels ensure the correct placement of fire extinguishers in kitchens, restaurants, guest rooms, meeting rooms, and public spaces. They also implement strict protocols to prevent linen fabrics from being close to cooking areas.
Keeping your guests and employees safe requires stringent security procedures and state-of-the-art technology. You need to assess every aspect of your venue’s safety and security measures. The most common aspects you must assess include security staffing, evacuation procedures, and disorderly conduct procedures.
Align your security staff planning with your hotel’s growth objectives. For example, if you expect flat growth for the next year but steady growth in years two through five after that, consider whether your current security staffing will provide adequate coverage for that longer-term growth period.
If you don’t have any staff now, would it make sense to work with a security contractor or to hire in-house? If you have security staff, make sure you have an ongoing process in place to ensure that they’re properly licensed and registered. This could mean asking your contract agency for annual reports or running your checks for in-house staff.
Regardless of your staffing arrangement, you need policies detailing how you want staff to handle sensitive situations that might arise in your venue. Periodically review whether you have all relevant situations covered. They could include:
- Handling unattended vehicles
- Responding to trespassers
- Handling suspicious packages
- Using force
Policies will guide staff behavior, allowing you to manage guest experiences better and reduce liability for wrongful actions.
Do you have a documented emergency action plan (EAP)? Ensure it’s updated to reflect any recent changes in your hotel’s operations. In the U.S., OSHA requires an EAP for all businesses with more than ten people on staff. To simplify this process, OSHA offers a useful EAP development app.
Even if you don’t need a documented EAP, you should include a summary of your evacuation plans in your hotel safety and security checklist. Has your venue’s floor plan changed in any way? If so, does this impact evacuation routes and any posted signage?
Disorderly conduct procedures
Meetings, holiday travel, and other seasonal activities can all present hotels with unexpected surges in guests. The increased crowd density often leads to unruly and sometimes even criminal activities, including pickpocketing, theft, and harassment, necessitating immediate intervention.
For this reason, hotels frequently opt to enlist additional security personnel to manage special events and seasonal traffic increases. Assess your venue’s preparedness for periodic spikes in activity. Are you able to accommodate full guest capacity? Do you have adequate staffing and security to protect all guests from unwanted and criminal activity they may attract? Are your emergency procedures adequate for controlling evacuations of large groups of visitors?
Better security creates a better guest experience
Maintaining good security while scaling up your hotel’s operations can be challenging, but it is doable. Many hotels have successfully applied new intelligent security technology and policies to long-standing problems. Our hotel safety tips are a good way to identify what works for you now and which problems might need new solutions to support your growth.
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