Key Takeaways
Hotels will likely face increased security risks as hotel guests return and seek to make up for ‘lost time’. Hotels are dropping their rates and are becoming more accessible to a wider cross section of society. Many hotels have cut back on security and may struggle to meet increased security threats. Re-establishing effective and proportionate security takes time; hotel security planning for hotel reopening needs to be done now.

Are Hotels Prepared for the Security Challenges of Business Bounce Back?

It seems a long time coming, but as the global vaccine roll-out gathers pace people will start travelling again and using hotels; when? who knows but it will happen. There is little doubt that there is built up demand ready to spring back into hotels and when the ‘Restriction Dam’ breaks, there will be a tsunami of thrill-seekers looking to recover from their hedonistic drought. As we know, hotels provide an environment where guests get up to things and behave in ways that they would never do at home. It is likely that the vanguard of leisure travellers will be less risk-averse and will seek to have the ‘best’ time that they can make up for the lost time. This will likely be exacerbated by hotels dropping their rates and becoming more accessible to social stratas that may not normally frequent globally-branded hotels.

Is your hotel ready for the thrill seekers with pent up demand for hedonistic behaviour?

Given this, security-related incidents, and the requirement for these to be managed could soar. In areas that rely on tourism as a major part of their economy, governments will be keen to open hotels, a terrorist attack as hotels are re-opening could seriously undermine reinstatement of the sector. Are hotels ready for this?

On the other side, criminals will perceive the return to hotels as the re-opening of a lucrative business line that they will be keen to exploit and expand, happily meeting an increase in demand for illegal drugs and prostitution. As business increases and hotels seek to employ cheap contractors, the threat of exposure to human exploitation will increase. Additionally, increased activity will lure criminals towards reservation data and loyalty programs.

It is no secret that hotels have had to make drastic cuts in staffing, and we have heard that hotel security teams have been particularly hard. Security teams have been drastically reduced and Hotel Security Managers been reassigned to Hotel Security Officer duties leaving teams bereft of critical leadership. Hotel Security Officers’ if not made redundant have had their pay cut. Morale in the hotel security fraternity is low.

In some cases, Hotel Security Managers have been let go and the security function leadership assigned to other departments such as Engineering. The latter gives an interesting insight into how Hotel Management perceive security in their hotels, would a Hotel Manager put the Head of HR in charge of the hotel engineering systems, unlikely because the Head of HR is an HR professional and will unlikely have a clue about engineering systems, so how is it OK for the Head of Engineering to run the security function?

Do non-security professionals have the capability to effectively respond to and manage for instance:

  • Drunken brawling
  • Anti-social behaviour
  • Prostitution/drugs
  • Credit card fraud
  • Human Trafficking/Exploitation
  • Insider threats
  • Unexplained deaths
  • Trespass

All of which are foreseeable risks, risks that are likely to be enhanced as hotels fully re-open.

The point I am making is that some hotel will find that they do not have the security capability or capacity to run their hotels securely and fulfil their duty of care. This will be especially so should, as is likely, that governments will require hotels to enforce certain restrictions that will need to be enforced by security teams.

I am sure that some will think that hotel security can be easily re-established by simply hiring contract security guards but this like the reassigning of security demonstrates the limited understanding of security. More than ever, security will need to be much more than a uniform standing at the hotel entrance. Security is a ‘whole enterprise thing’ needing the engagement of the whole organisation being conceived and co-ordinated by strong capable security leadership.

All indications point to the fact that guest expectation of hotel security and safety will be increased in a post-COVID World as they seek assurance. This will be especially true of corporate clients who will likely double down on their duty of care to their travellers and be extremely sensitive to liability risks should their travellers come to harm whilst being accommodated on company business.

Whilst full opening may seem a long way off, prudent hotel management will be reviewing security and making plans to manage the potential increased security threat environment, or they will be ‘playing catch up’ whilst their guests are exposed to risks.

Questions for Consideration:

  1. Has your hotel security been reduced?
  2. Will your current hotel security fulfil your duty of care to protect guests, staff and visitors in the event of increased security threats and risks.
  3. Have you assessed the changing risks in your hotel and your location in the pandemic and in the period where restrictions are lifted?