Maintaining good security while scaling up your hotel’s operations can be challenging, but it is doable. Many hotels have found success in applying new intelligent security technology and policies to long-standing problems. Using our hotel safety and security checklist is a good way to identify what is working for you now and which problems might need new solutions to support your growth. In addition, today’s hotel security must also encompass guest management in line with the latest CDC guidelines.
Securing your hotel's facilities requires a wide variety of protections including access control, vehicle security, key management, video surveillance, and building identification and accessibility.
One part of compliance with the City of Wheat Ridge Hotel Ordinance #1723 is for hotel license applicants to provide an approved security plan (Sec. 11-504 (f). Please provide narratives for each of the following security issues. You may include policies, diagrams, or any other information to address the specific issue. For more information or questions regarding the Hotel Security Plan, contact the Wheat Ridge Police Crime Prevention Team by phone at (303) 235-2910 or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org
A. Make sure isolated spaces are well lit and regularly maintained. Problematic behaviors often happen in dimly lit areas, and ensuring bulbs are checked and replaced when broken, or installing approved lighting systems, has been shown to reduce crime by up to 36% in cities. Public areas such as parking lots, hallways and alleys should be the focus.
B. Either using a surveillance system or by redirecting paths, all foot traffic should pass through areas that can be easily controlled and monitored. “Non-spaces” should be eliminated or blocked from public access and your premises should be designed in a way that directs foot traffic through the building in an efficient way to prevent large groups accumulating in busy public areas.
C. By regulating the number of parking lot and/or building entrances, the fewer security resources will be required to monitor them. Again, controlling through traffic can help you decide on the best placement, and entrances should always be part of your access plan. Exits should be designed with fire safety in mind, allowing fast egress of the building.
A. There should be a mechanism for tracking and auditing all key usage. Are all back-of-the-house keys kept in a secure location? If lost or misplaced keys are a common problem at your hotel, consider whether an electronic key management system might be able to track keys more cost-effectively. Are you tracking spare guest keys? Regardless of whether your hotel uses swipe cards, proximity cards, or hard keys, make sure you know how many spares you use each quarter. Then schedule reorders that keep you ahead of that rate.
B. If you don’t already have an inventory of all locks in your venue, start creating one. Are there locks on all doors and windows? How about slide-and-chain bolts on guest room doors? Guest room inventories can be easily delegated to service staff as they turn over rooms or perform other tasks.
C. You should also inventory and test locks on doors to all back-of-the-house spaces. Make sure that those doors are out of sight whenever possible. If staff aren’t considering the security implications, interior design changes can accidentally expose these doors.
Evaluate your guest parking facilities. Less access to parking lots, such as one entrance/exit and closing all others to vehicles, can assist in better visual sightlines. Good lighting and sightlines are the best crime deterrents. Are all lights working? Have any trees or bushes grown to obstruct sightlines from building entrances? Is there existing fencing on the property that could help with limiting access control in parking areas? Should fencing be increased? Also consider placing your tow company signage around the parking areas and let your guests know upon check-in that the tow company regularly patrols the lots for unregistered vehicles and/or abandoned vehicles.
Your surveillance system is only as good as the footage that you can play back. Do you have a documented retention policy for camera footage? Do you have a mechanism to confirm that staff are actually following it? Make sure surveillance cameras are recording and that you can play back archived footage. Also, check coverage areas regularly, because landscaping or interior design changes might accidentally create new camera blind spots.
Today’s security systems are discreet and highly effective, and not only allow you to catch illegal activity that may elude security guards, but also serve as a deterrent. Cameras covering the front desk and in other public areas will decrease the likelihood of bad behavior or criminality while also providing hotel staff and the law enforcement with a visual record of any incidents that may take place.
Best practice is to ensure staff fill out the information contained in registration forms themselves by asking relevant questions. Ask for several pieces of I.D. from each guest; ask questions about the number of people staying in the room and potential visitors; check license plate numbers. A parking pass for all registered vehicles (to be kept on the dash is another good deterrent. In addition to this, keep easily accessible records, introduce more secure payment systems, and ensure data protection policies are adhered to.
Cash collections from your front deck, restaurant, and other locations should happen on a varied schedule that is hard for thieves to track. Is your collection schedule too predictable? Confirm that cash counting is performed in a locked space away from guests. If you use a private cash management agency for transportation, make sure their license is up to date for the current year.
Simple exterior maintenance jobs such as painting, gardening and cleaning up litter from hotel property send a message to both hotel guests and potential transgressors. The “Broken Window Theory” suggests that visible signs of crime, anti-social behavior, and civil disorder may encourage further crime and disorder. Additionally, a well-maintained exterior also improves client-perception of your establishment.
Cleanliness and proper maintenance tell good customers they are valued and dissuades bad behavior. In a similar way to exterior maintenance, a dirty, messy, or poorly maintained room is in invitation to treat it in the same way in which it was found. Dirty rooms are also among the most common guest complaints, and so ensuring yours are of the highest standard is a win-win.
While the City of Wheat Ridge does not have laws requiring hotels to provide duress alert buttons for service staff, many other jurisdictions do have such legislation in the works. If you don’t yet have a duress alert system, take the time to investigate what might be the most effective way to implement one in your venue. The costs and features of these systems can vary widely, so planning now could save you money and effort later on.
If you already have a duress alert system, schedule periodic drills to ensure that it is working properly and give staff an opportunity to practice responding to an alarm. Also, decide whether it makes sense for your venue to have policies for documenting expected response times and handling potential misuse.
If you do not have a duress alert system, please detail how guests and employees can access police, EMS, and fire in an emergency.
Consider whether your current security staffing will provide adequate coverage for the next five years. If you don’t have any staff now, would it make sense to work with a security contractor or to hire in-house? If you have security staff, make sure you have an ongoing process in place to ensure that they’re properly licensed and registered. This could mean asking your contract agency for annual reports or running your own checks for in-house staff.
Policies will guide staff behavior, allowing you to better manage guest experiences and reduce liability for wrongful actions. Regardless of your staffing arrangement, you need policies detailing how you want staff to handle sensitive situations that might arise in your venue. Periodically review whether you have all relevant situations covered.
Do you have a documented Emergency Action Plan (EAP)? Make sure it’s updated to reflect any recent changes in your hotel’s operations. In the U.S., OSHA requires an EAP for all businesses with more than 10 people on staff. To simplify this process, OSHA offers a useful EAP development app.
Even if you don’t yet need a documented EAP, you should build a summary of your evacuation plans into your hotel safety and security checklist. Has your venue’s floor plan changed in any way? Does this impact evacuation routes and any posted signage?
If you have safes in guest rooms, confirm that all work properly. This checklist item can be easily delegated to housekeeping staff as they turn over rooms.
Also, consider whether asset lockers might be useful for securing guest assets if your venue has a need for guests to deposit items at centrally managed locations, such as behind reception desks or at pools. Some locker systems offer electronics charging for better customer service.
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