As hoteliers, how can we demonstrate that we take all aspects of risk and security seriously – not only to our customers, but also to our staff, our suppliers, our stakeholders and the wider community in which we operate?
In a world of instant news where stories of terrorism attacks, drive-by shootings, health scares and natural disasters are constantly competing for our attention, the natural human reaction is one of heightened uncertainty and seeking security to prevent or minimise the impact. We live in a world that increasingly seems to be dominated by organisations or agencies that create fear and feed on our uncertainties. The use of phrases such as ‘cyber attacks’, “war on terror” have connotations that suggest in some way our personal security is threatened.
This is particularly relevant to hoteliers. Stories abound of the loss of bookings because certain travellers have rather limited knowledge of geography and are concerned that their personal safety will be at risk if they travel to a particular destination. Hoteliers cannot guarantee safety and security, particularly against such events as natural disasters or random acts of violence, but what they can do is to work on minimising risk through ensuring that their hotel’s safety and security procedures are as robust as possible.
Guests need reassurance that they are going to be safe and secure – safe from theft, not just of their belongings but also potentially their identity and safe from intrusion. They need security in knowing that the hotel is fully compliant with all existing safety regulations and confidence in the staff’s ability to be able to respond to safety and security issues.
By the same token, hotel staff need reassurance that, as an employer, all of the areas of duty of care for providing safe and secure workplaces will be met and that their own personal safety will not be at risk. At a more strategic level, the investors in the hotel must have the expectation that the hotel and the management of the hotel have assessed all aspects of risk and security and have taken all the necessary action to protect the guest, the property and all of its assets.
While some aspects of safety and security are covered by the very specific legislative requirements, as with fire health and safety and food related legislation, other areas such as identity protection, incident management, emergency response and internal and external security are not. Hotelier’s need to be able to provide reassurance to all of their stakeholders and to minimise all aspects of risk. Some categories of guests are increasingly not just seeking the basic reassurances, but require from hoteliers’ significantly more in the way of safety and security standards. Airline crews, diplomats and VIPs are some of the more obvious categories of guests where such reassurance is essential.
In this increasingly complex and demanding area, a number of companies are now developing audit and certification processes to assist hoteliers in minimising safety and security risks. I believe audits that raise awareness of potential vulnerabilities and a subsequent certification process is an option all hoteliers will increasingly consider.
About the author
Professor Peter Jones is the Dean of the eHotelier Academy. With a distinguished career in hospitality, education and training, Peter has been involved with national and international projects with clients involved in hospitality education. Peter is a Director the Edge Hotel School and of Hotel Future, a new education and training initiative in Greater Manchester and is a Visiting Professor at the University of Derby. He was also awarded a Member of the Order of the British Empire for services to the hospitality industry.