Holistic Risk Assessment: Reducing Vulnerabilities and Addressing Threats

By Jason Porter Regional Managing Director, Pinkerton | February 15, 2015

Hotel facilities face a multitude of unique risks not always present in other industries. That unique set of risks creates an ever-changing demand to firm up your business operations and remain vigilant in your security and emergency response plans. With the rise of new threats constantly evolving, one of the most effective ways to protect your guests, employees, hotel operations and your facilities to is conduct a thorough risk assessment. After all, it's impossible to know the threats and vulnerabilities that affect your safety and security if you don't reasonably identify them in the first place.

All facilities, from small independent hotel locations to international hotel chains, face a myriad of unique risks, many of which ultimately differ depending on a hotel's physical location. Not only do hotel operators need to promote their guests' and their employees' safety, they may ultimately also be responsible for guests' financial information, personal belongings and equipment and properly maintained facilities.

The risk profile for the hotel industry tends to be considerably greater than in other industries. However, a thorough and comprehensive risk assessment can help you identify and define your risks, vulnerabilities and potential consequences, outline a plan to prioritize and address these issues, and ultimately help keep your hotel facility and guests comfortable and secure.

Identify and Define Your Risks

In our industry, we define a risk assessment as: a holistic approach to identifying all of the threats, vulnerabilities and consequences that are associated with the potential risks that a hotel may face. A threat can be conceived as anything that has the potential to disrupt your business, interfere with operations, harm your guests, employees or physical property, or subject your facility to liability.

It may be tempting to take a "one size fits all" approach to risk assessments when determining the potential threats that may affect your facility, but this tends to be an incorrect approach. Risks and vulnerabilities are truly unique from location to location. The simple fact is that a hotel in Dallas, Texas and a similar location from the exact same chain in Wichita, Kansas will each face unique threats. Their employee uniforms may look the same, their operating procedures may be identical to a tee, but the threats and risks can be completely different. As such, it's vital to take an honest look at all of the potential and unique risks facing your facility, and how your individual location can best respond to them should an incident actually occur.

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The hotel industry has undertaken a long-term effort to build more responsible and socially conscious businesses. What began with small efforts to reduce waste - such as paperless checkouts and refillable soap dispensers - has evolved into an international movement toward implementing sustainable development practices. In addition to establishing themselves as good corporate citizens, adopting eco-friendly practices is sound business for hotels. According to a recent report from Deloitte, 95% of business travelers believe the hotel industry should be undertaking “green” initiatives, and Millennials are twice as likely to support brands with strong management of environmental and social issues. Given these conclusions, hotels are continuing to innovate in the areas of environmental sustainability. For example, one leading hotel chain has designed special elevators that collect kinetic energy from the moving lift and in the process, they have reduced their energy consumption by 50%  over conventional elevators. Also, they installed an advanced air conditioning system which employs a magnetic mechanical system that makes them more energy efficient. Other hotels are installing Intelligent Building Systems which monitor and control temperatures in rooms, common areas and swimming pools, as well as ventilation and cold water systems. Some hotels are installing Electric Vehicle charging stations, planting rooftop gardens, implementing stringent recycling programs, and insisting on the use of biodegradable materials. Another trend is the creation of Green Teams within a hotel's operation that are tasked to implement earth-friendly practices and manage budgets for green projects. Some hotels have even gone so far as to curtail or eliminate room service, believing that keeping the kitchen open 24/7 isn't terribly sustainable. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to integrate sustainable practices into their operations and how they are benefiting from them.