In my time I have had conversations with 100s of Hotel Managers about security, crisis management and business continuity. Without exception, they had a positive attitude towards these issues perhaps because of my position or the fact I was conducting an audit, but I genuinely believed their good intent despite competing priorities from owners, management companies and budgets. I found plenty of particularly good security and resilience programs, few perfect and many in between. Regardless, the majority of Hotel Managers delegate security and resilience responsibility to their Security Managers which is entirely reasonable for they are not security and resilience specialists; however, few exercise effective senior management oversight of the function. This is puzzling given that ultimate responsibility for hotel security and resilience sits with the Hotel Manager. Perhaps not so puzzling because the majority of Hotel Managers do not have the fundamental knowledge to garner oversight and performance management.
Following a serious security incident that attracts external scrutiny, the external spotlight will be on the Hotel Manager, not the Security Manager.
Providing a Secure Environment is Critical to Providing Hospitality
During conversations with hospitality academics, I discovered that hotel schools and academic faculties do not cover security and resilience to aspiring hotel and hospitality leaders. This is strange given that the safety and security of guests and employees is a prime moral and legal responsibility; not only this but providing a secure environment is critical to providing hospitality. Furthermore, when you look at the key leadership positions at many hotels, the organization chart mirrors the hotel school curriculum: Finance and Accounting, Sales, F&B, Executive Chef, Housekeeping…. But very often security is not part of the core leadership team even though, when incidents occur the press releases state that safety and security is the top priority.
Without a secure environment how all other hospitality offerings are undermined. Furthermore, making a hotel business resilient against foreseeable threats and risks is key to good governance and responsible business. On further investigation, it transpires that one the main reasons for this training gap is that there is no ‘customer (student) demand for it; academia now being a business, the ‘customer’ gets what the ‘customer’ wants. This leaves hotel leaders with a significant hole in their armoury.
Hotel Managers and senior leaders need foundational security and resilience knowledge to be able to conduct effective security and resilience oversight, challenge their Security Managers as appropriate, understand security requirements and mentor and develop Security Managers.
What might a Hotel Leaders’ Fundamental Security and Resilience module look like?
To provide future hotel leaders with high-level security and resilience knowledge to enable them to fulfil their responsibilities for protecting guests, staff, hotel assets and reputation, demonstrate due diligence in the management of security and resilience risks and oversee hotel security functions.
- Introduction to security and hospitality
- Hotel Leader’s security responsibilities
- Hotel security threats
- Principles of Hotel Security
- Security organisation
- Introduction to Security documentation
- Brand Security Standards
- Hotel Manager’s Security Policy
- Hotel Risk Assessment
- Hotel Security Plan
- Introduction to security systems
- Data Protection
- Hotel security in high-risk areas
- Security for Major Events and High Profile / High Risk Visits
- Security checks and audits
- Setting Security KPOs
- Security Performance Management
- Selecting Security Staff
- Security marketing
- Practical security exercise
- Introduction to hotel resilience Crisis Management & Business Continuity
- Hotel Leader’s resilience responsibilities
- Hotel Crisis Threats
- Crisis Ownership
- Crisis Management Teams
- Principles of Crisis Management
- Crisis and Business Continuity Planning
- Crisis decision making
- Crisis training
- Crisis Exercising
- Crisis testing
- Crisis and Business Continuity Documentation
- Crisis Tabletop Exercise
A lack of engagement from the Hotel Manager leads to Security Managers and their teams becoming siloed and fighting for traction in the business. It requires the authority of the Hotel Manager to ensure security and resilience engagement across their business. The lack of security and resilience knowledge may dissuade Hotel Managers from actively engaging in security and resilience matters beyond delegation. Furnishing future hotel leaders with the capability to engage effectively in security would make a significant step forward in protecting our guests and staff from security threats and risks.
I suspect that those who run hotel and hospitality management courses might respond that course curriculums are already full and ask what would give? I would advise finding room, for what could be more important than protecting lives and preventing harm? They may also claim that security and resilience is included in other modules, so security and resilience is not important enough to be a standalone subject and is only worthy to be diluted across other modules. This approach is ineffective for the ‘proof of the pudding is in the eating’ and the ‘pudding’ has considerable room for improvement.