Security and Safety Awareness: High ROI

By Marc Glasser Managing Director, RM LLC | December 04, 2011

With minimal effort and cost, even if outsourced, a hotel security and safety awareness initiative can be developed, or if existing, enhanced, to establish or complement hotel risk management programs. The advantages of this risk management effort to the hotel and corporation far outweigh the expense and challenges, correlating to high Return On Investment (ROI). This holds true even when considering competing hotel demands for limited resources.

On a personal note, I know a thing or two about security and safety, additionally; I know a thing or two about hotels and traveling. Over the years, I have traveled to most of the US states and over 90 countries. My travel ranges from New York to Los Angeles, Argentina to Zimbabwe, Kazakhstan to Kentucky, and many places in between. I understand travel and "hotel experiences" as a: weary traveler; resort vacationer; subject matter expert in security and safety; and as a businessman where every dollar (or other currency) expense is one less dollar of profit. Based on the aforementioned perspective, this article addresses advantages, challenges and strategies, and other program components related to an effective hotel security and safety awareness program.

Advantages

There are numerous advantages of an effective and efficient (including minimizing costs) security and safety awareness program. The more obvious advantages of such a program include: protection of life; reducing or avoiding incident related injuries; and safeguarding of the hotel itself and other tangible and intangible assets. Some other less obvious advantages include: enhanced "security and safety goodwill" , fostered by "feeling" secure and safe, when customers, employees, and other hotel visitors, understand the hotel is concerned and is engaging in proactive security and safety initiatives. This positive "goodwill" enhances: the hotels' customer service reputation; employee dedication, loyalty, and hotel management appreciation. Additionally, other often overlooked advantages may include: reduced legal liabilities; related insurance premium discounts; and deterrence to criminal acts including terrorism, workplace violence, and theft. Theft deterrence includes employee/internal theft and customer and other visitor theft.

Although terrorism is generally a low-probability event, its harmful consequences can be catastrophic. Consequences can include loss of life and bodily injury, as well as, physical, reputation and "balance sheet" damage. Generally, whether a lone wolf or organizationally supported terrorist attack, terrorists will conduct surveillance on multiple targets before attack selection to determine the easiest (softest) target.

Usually, a soft target equates to greater harmful impact and reduced risks for terrorists themselves. Even in cases where a terrorist is expecting to die as a result of the attack, softer targets will generally result in a greater "terror" effect. Frequent internal and external patrols, at random times, by trained and aware personnel will serve as a deterrent observed by those conducting target selection surveillance. Transitioning from soft to hard target, as well as other awareness campaign components, can have its challenges. Challenges as well as strategies to overcome the challenges are discussed below.

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Eco-Friendly Practices: Corporate Social Responsibility

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.