In recent years, the hotel industry experienced some spectacular thefts in hotel bedrooms, that could have easily been prevented. Some of the incidents made the news, while some hoteliers remained silent. Criminal methods, as well as theÊbehavioural habits of hotel guests have changed rapidly and hoteliers have had to constantly adapt.
Now comes a new in-room safe concept on the market, that can change the security landscape forever. It is a solution that claims to nearly eliminate all the current risks of theft.
Are the current safes cutting edge and efficient?
To be able to answer this question we need to understand two things;
1. Ê ÊWhat do hotel guests place or want to place in a safe? Let’s look a bit closer at the guest’s valuables. Some travel with more than one expensive watch to their destination, while others take jewelry on holiday for a gala night. Corporate travelers like to know their confidential data on a USB-stick, laptops, and classified documents are always secured. Some industries with a higher risk of espionage appreciate good security practice. But then, there is also the tourist, who just comes for a weekend to London or New York for a shopping tour and wants to deposit valuables in a secure location. All three groups have one thing in common Ð the need to lock something precious away.
2. Ê ÊWhat do we know about the perpetrator? Petty-criminals and organized gangs monitor the buying behaviour of hotel guests closely and potentially know what to expect in a hotel guest bedroom. If they find a room or a safe that is hard to access, they will most likely move on and target a different hotel property, that provides less resilience. Bear in mind, clever social-engineering tactics are just simply easier, and some criminals are very creative in trying to by-pass hotel security procedures.
In my opinion, the Ôin-room safe issue’ has been sidelined and the budget often overrules the decision-making process. Even in new 2, 3 or 4-star hotels, safes are still very basic with a hard-key or a simple keypad. For a 5-star room – this is not the best solutionÊwhen you consider that this type of clientele is used to a much higher security standard in their own homes, yachts, and planes. If hoteliers want to impress sophisticated travellers, then the requirement is to provide sophisticated security. If you are responsible for the purchase, consider the following aspects when procuring a hotel safe:
– Understand the behavioural pattern of your guests. If you have guests from other parts of the world who are not used to criminal activities, then hotels can advise them on how to mitigate their travel risks.
– Be aware of the customer’s expectations. What standards are they used too?
– Consider local risk factors and know the criminal culture.
– Have knowledge of thefts in other hotels in the city and what safes they provide. Consider that criminals tend to choose hotels that are easy to access. If you provide a higher standard than your competitors, then you are pushing the identified problems away from your business. By doing so, you will save money on insurance and compensation in the long run.
– Security grading. Do you have guests that travel with expensive, sensitive or dangerous items? Choose a safe that meets the needs of your guests.
– Create a customer experience based on the latest technology.
– Anchoring. An in-room safe is only as good asÊits anchor. Make sure it is professionally fitted.
Encouraging hotel guests to actually use the in-room safe is sometimes a challenge and often the cause of the problem. Some hotels put up signs in the room for liability reasons whilst others just provide an ordinary safe. I always advise hotel operators to display warning signs in the room to raise security awareness.ÊIt demonstrates good practice and can be beneficial for the hotel in a liability dispute.
What hotels can do to combat the current risks
Thankfully, nowadays,Êsafes are a global standard, and the security industry offers a wide range of solutions. We analyzed the security features, looked at the grading, and found one product that stands out. The Arcarius Zeitgeist Safe is an excellent example to illustrate what is feasible today. Zeitgeist means, Ôspirit of the times‘. This innovative product can interact with the hotel guest and it creates a unique customer experience. It is quite impressive that this manufacturer has developed a solution that dramatically reduces the current risk of theft.
Not only is it equipped with a watch winder, charging facility for electronic devices, and a special tray for jewellery, the safe also comes with a new user-friendly app. The guest can monitor and control the safe (optional) with a smartphone. Because it comes with an interface to the PMS-system, a revolutionary ÔEmpty Safe Detector’ will remind the guest if anything was left behind. This detector can also be used to audit the safe in real-time.
A panic-code with a silent alarm is also a feature, that most of the other in-room safe manufacturers cannot provide. It is a fire and burglar resistant safe, that meets European security norms by VDMA regulations EN24992 Class B. The only hotel in-room safe I ever heard of, that has a certified lock like a bank safe. Because of its high security reinforced steel structure, anti-drill plate, FBI-certified fingerprint reader, double steel wall structure, and high-security electronic lock, the trendsetter was able to achieve a new standard in hotel security. With their software system, the integrity of the safe is guaranteed, avoiding direct involvement of the hotel staff in the security of the safe.
In my opinion, a safe of this kind should be a standard in every 5-star hotel. Because it fulfills the requirements of a weapon safe, this safe should also be a standard in the rooms next door, used by personal protection guards travelling with diplomats and VIPs. From a global risk perspective, providing a product like this to selective guests adds a unique value to the existing hotel product – especially in countries and cities with a higher crime rate.
Criminals will find it difficult to by-pass security in bedrooms with a high-tech safe. ÊI am convinced, a high-tech safe that invites you to secure your valuables is the future of our industry.
About Stefan Hiller
Stefan Vito Hiller is the Founder and Managing Director of Sky Touch Global Hotel Security Consulting. He is an independent Global Risk Consultant to Hotels. He has over 21 years international experience in the hotel and security industry. He has worked for leading hotel brands, such as Sheraton, Hilton, Marriott and Choice Hotels, United Kingdom, Ireland, and the Middle East. Stefan is specialised in covert audits and he also consults architects in how to design safe hotels. Sky Touch Global Hotel Security Consulting Pty Ltd is an independent global security consulting company based in Australia, which specialises and focuses on risk management for the hotel industry providing Risk Assessment, Audit, Training, and Certification to hotels.