How to Prepare for Potential Threats to Security

Daniel Johnson, CHA, serves as a hotel analyst for Travel Channel’s Hotel Impossible and is vice president of operations for Argeo Hospitality. Here, he sits down with LODGING to answer one of the most pressing issues he believes hoteliers face.

In light of recent security issues, as a hotel outside the U.S., what should we be considering in our day-to-day operations?

There have been numerous incidents in the U.S. and abroad and, in October, a celebrity had her room intruded upon by individuals dressed as police officers in Paris. Preparedness is not something that comes when there is a news story to scare you into a concern. It has to be an integral part of the operation from day one in an unending and enduring effort to remain vigilant. You have to have a plan. Period. It’s not a suggestion, it’s not a recommendation, it’s a requirement. When it comes to your hotel, devise a plan for the possibilities you face and tailor reactions for your specific operation. First, remember that you can plan but you can’t plan for every eventuality. You can, however, train, train, train. Once your plan is in place, train your staff on it, then train again, then analyze the results, then train again. Having a third party review your plan is never a bad idea.

Second, know your hotel’s exterior like the back of your hand. In order to gain access, individuals have to cross your grounds, parking lot, delivery points, or some other means of entry. What are your strengths and weakness? How is the lighting? Is there anything that needs to be addressed with security or surveillance?


Third, encourage your staff to meet and greet. Every guest, every visitor, every vendor should be greeted with a smile and a question, “May I help you?” These are opportunities to wow your guests that also double as a chance to pay attention to the comings and goings within the building.

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  1. A gem of a recommendation can be found at the end of the first paragraph: “Having a third party review your plan is never a bad idea.”

    It is difficult to self-assess your security, doubly so if you are not a security professional. Currently we are in Kabul conducting physical security assessments of multiple locations (including a hotel) for a major private enterprise. While the managers of their robust and modern security apparatus feel that everything is covered, they understand they are “inside the bubble” and appreciate someone from the outside looking in. It is vital that we include them in the assessment process. In fact, we could not succeed without those here on the inside. Working together makes us stronger than working separately.

    So far, over 50 recommendations to improve security are in our draft report. The importance of our work was punctuated by today’s car bombing that was visible from our location. The value of outside experts when it comes to assessing security, and assisting with implementing needed improvements, should not be dismissed by the hospitality industry.

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