Security: The Key to Return on Investment

By Edward Dublois Principal Consultant, Dublois & Associates | December 11, 2011

There has never been a time more significant than the past 10 years that has caused many hotel and lodging professionals to move security up the line in terms of importance and criticality. Across the nation, substantial dollars are being spent to establish, upgrade or enhance security in a wide range of applications. Often these increased measures of security cameras, restricted access control, employee training, panic systems, covert surveillance and overall awareness incrementally decrease the risk and threat levels of a lodging or resort property. However, is there a possibility that these efforts can be further improved upon to deliver a greater return on investment? Can the benefit cost ratio be improved upon to the extent that the security plan can be self amortizing?

Typically an approach to remedy a potential or existing security breech, threat or risk, is performed by applying a reasonable and rationalized electronic security solution. This can be accomplished through the use of security surveillance cameras, access control systems, communication systems, and other types of alarm, detection and security devices. Sometimes this effort is a knee jerk reactionary achievement and other times it is a scheduled and budgeted event. At the same time, much too often, a broad stroke approach is utilized to accomplish these goals. This occurrence often results in a host of issues that can plague the property or system operator. Sometimes the system is under utilized; at other times it may be over built. Then there is the all too familiar project that has gone over budget or maybe the entire effort yields a system that wasn't entirely necessary in the first place. While the efforts were well intentioned, the net results often fall short of reaching the goals of efficiency, effectiveness and desired return on investment.

A thorough and comprehensive security Risk and Threat Assessment (RTA) performed in advance of any calculated security solution pays dividends into a security budget and operating plan. The RTA should be considered the blueprint and first step in the mission critical plan for any evolving or existing security effort. A decision to implement an RTA is the important process that merges the components of return on investment (ROI) with the effectiveness and efficiency of a properly executed security plan.

Who needs a Risk & Threat Assessment?

There could be several reasons to commission an RTA. Perhaps you are about to initiate a new security plan or upgrade an existing program. Maybe your property is designing and constructing a new building or renovating an existing structure and you are charged with implementing the security component. Or perhaps you have an existing property, with an existing security program and system in place but you want to affirm that you are hitting the target in terms of what your program addresses, how your system functions and how it applies to the needs and requirements within the organization. In addition to these, there are many other cost justified and critical reasons to consider the deployment of a comprehensive RTA study and analysis. Consider that the RTA is the preliminary and vital step towards the protection of people, property and assets, so if you have any of these within your organization, you may be a candidate for an RTA. The resulting objective of the RTA is to align the components of vulnerabilities, risk and threats as they exist, or can potentially exist, with an adequate countermeasure approach using "best practices" methodology. This often encompasses assessment work in the areas of policies, procedures and protocols as well as electronic and physical security.

The RTA is not necessarily a tool used exclusively for areas or environments that are prone to a high incident of criminal activity. In fact, the RTA is commonly used as the front end effort of a needs assessment review for any structured security plan regardless of the location or level of security required. The need for security spans across many different sectors of the business and operational activities of the property. These needs can be derived from countermeasures against common occurrences such as; supplies shrinkage, guest room intrusions, white collar crimes, vandalism, threats of personal violence, intrusion and theft, hostage taking, insurance fraud, liability mitigation, active shooter threats, vehicle break in and theft and many more.

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Coming up in February 2019...

Social Media: Getting Personal

There Social media platforms have revolutionized the hotel industry. Popular sites such as Facebook, Twitter, Pinterest, Instagram, Snapchat, YouTube and Tumblr now account for 2.3 billion active users, and this phenomenon has forever transformed how businesses interact with consumers. Given that social media allows for two-way communication between businesses and consumers, the emphasis of any marketing strategy must be to positively and personally engage the customer, and there are innumerable ways to accomplish that goal. One popular strategy is to encourage hotel guests to create their own personal content - typically videos and photos -which can be shared via their personal social media networks, reaching a sizeable audience. In addition, geo-locational tags and brand hashtags can be embedded in such posts which allow them to be found via metadata searches, substantially enlarging their scope. Influencer marketing is another prevalent social media strategy. Some hotels are paying popular social media stars and bloggers to endorse their brand on social media platforms. These kinds of endorsements generally elicit a strong response because the influencers are perceived as being trustworthy by their followers, and because an influencer's followers are likely to share similar psychographic and demographic traits. Travel review sites have also become vitally important in reputation management. Travelers consistently use social media to express pleasure or frustration about their guest experiences, so it is essential that every review be attended to personally. Assuming the responsibility to address and correct customer service concerns quickly is a way to mitigate complaints and to build brand loyalty. Plus, whether reviews are favorable or unfavorable, they are a vital source of information to managers about a hotel's operational performance.  The February Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to effectively incorporate social media strategies into their businesses.