In our last blog, Travel Risk Management – Hotel Procurement Risk we considered how risk managers and procurement teams could ask the right questions of hotel operating companies and their hotels to improve their supplier due diligence. It was highlighted that it is just as important to ask searching questions of hotel group corporate security and safety programs as it is to specific hotels. In this blog, we will consider how some travelers’ behaviours threaten their security whilst in hotels. In future blogs, we will consider other measures can assist companies in keeping their employees safe and secure during their stay at hotels.
During my time in corporate hotel security, I received many complaints from corporate client security teams explaining that an employee had been victimised whilst staying at so and so hotel and complaining that hotel security had not been up to standard. Of course, we would mount an investigation and in 80-90% of cases, it transpired that the victim in whole, or part, was responsible for their misfortune.
The Blame Game
Blaming hotels is often the easy option and I was always surprised that corporate clients would point the finger before conducting a thorough investigation being inclined instead to take the word of their employee. In post-investigation conversations with clients, it was surprising how few companies had formal travel risk training programs. This was particularly evident in responding to incidents such as virtual kidnapping at hotels in Latin-America, who would send travellers to such high-risk areas without preparation and training?
Travellers sometimes suspend common sense and act irresponsibly as they enter the ‘hotel cocoon’.
Some risk managers forget that although hotels strive to provide a safe and secure environment, companies still have a responsibility for their traveler’s safety and security.
Common Traveler Behaviours That Spell Trouble:
- Drunkenness – Many guests, male and female, getting extremely drunk and becoming vulnerable to crime and becoming troublesome guests.
- Prostitution – Mainly male guests inviting prostitutes into their rooms and then suffering theft of valuable personal possessions.
- Drugs – Guests inviting drug suppliers into their rooms and becoming a victim of assault or theft.
- Sex/Promiscuity – Hotels seem to can have the effect of diluting guest morals, with some looking for casual sex. Alleged serious sexual crimes often occur between colleagues travelling together or attending conferences.
- Leaving Valuables Unattended in Public Areas – This particularly applies to unsecured meeting rooms, drinking and dining areas.
- False Theft Claims – Some guests falsely claim that they have had valuables stolen to commit insurance fraud.
- Failure to Use Room Security Facilities – Guest room theft investigations often indicate that guests did not use the room security facilities provided to them such as room safes, secondary door locking devices etc
From the above, it is perhaps understandable why travelers might not be as open about incidents and having to explain for instance why their company laptop has been stolen or explain to their wives why their watch and wallet have gone missing.
Whilst humans will be human, it is incumbent on companies to warn their travelers of the dangers of such behaviours and to remind them of their personal security and safety responsibilities preferably enshrined in the company Travel Policies.
Golden Rules for Travelers:
- Travelers must understand that they have a responsibility for their safety and security and maintain security awareness whilst in hotels, security responsibility cannot be entirely delegated to hotel security
- If you drink, drink sensibly, maintain control and be aware of your surroundings
- Do not let strangers into your guest room
- Do not become involved in criminality such as drug use etc
- Always use the security facilities provided in guest rooms – room safes, secondary door locking devices, door chains, door viewers and window locks.
- Take care of your valuables
All this said, hotel security and safety are not infallible and there will be occasions when failings can contribute to guest victimisation. In these cases, corporate security teams will almost certainly welcome representation from companies so they can investigate and direct remedial actions. Such representations provide valuable internal intelligence that might be used to identify systemic failing and therefore prevent others from becoming victims. Occasionally, I received communications stating that ‘security at your hotel XX is poor/rubbish’, this is not helpful!! Before making such representations, please conduct a thorough internal investigation and present specific concerns.