For the South African tourist accommodation industry the past year and a half has brought unprecedented difficulties and challenges. It has been a tough period for owners with many in “survival mode”. However, it is inevitable that things will pick up as more people are vaccinated and international travel resumes. For owners there is an opportunity to assess your facilities and make improvements that aren’t possible when your accommodation is occupied and further enhance the experience for your guests.
This article takes a deeper look at the issue of security for accommodation facilities, while the focus is primarily on hotels many of the tips featured here are universal and can be applied to other forms of accommodation including guesthouses, bed and breakfasts and guest farms.
Important safety and security measures necessary in guest accommodation facilities
While guesthouses and guest farms may have very different security needs depending on the size, nature and location for hotels there are certain security features that should be a given. Dealing with large amounts of visitors makes security a paramount concern and so this section focuses on security upgrades for these types of spaces.
Room key card locks
There is a reason why Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) Cards are the go-to locking mechanism in most hotels. Not only do they streamline the logistical and financial management of the hotel, but also makes the experience simpler and easier for guests. RFID cards have a number of benefits when it comes to security. They can’t be copied, they have a time limit, they can restrict access to off-limit areas, they save electricity, and they remove the headache of guests losing keys.
Trained security guards
Active and visible security are a must for hotels dealing with large numbers of visitors. While their primary goal of security is to protect residents and staff, they also serve as a visual deterrent to discourage petty crime as well as protect the hotel facilities from damage.
Security cameras are not only effective for crime prevention, but also protect the accommodation against liability for theft or injuries. Large hotels may require a full CCTV setup, but for guesthouses and lodges a smaller and more cost effective solution may suffice. There are many high tech security cameras on the market, which can be linked directly to a smartphone ensuring that your property is surveilled without having to buy a costly system.
Fire alarms and smoke detectors
All accommodation should be fitted with smoke detectors and working fire alarms and these should be regularly tested to ensure they are working properly. Fire alarms aren’t just for rooms and should be placed in corridors, storerooms, under stairways, public areas, and storage spaces. For large hotels legislation requires that the premises are fitted with an automated system that integrates all smoke detectors in each location with a master panel.
Emergency power backup
During the age of load shedding this is more important than ever. No matter the type of accommodation you are offering, some form of power backup can go a long way to reducing the chance of incidents when the lights go out. It is important to have enough backup power to still be able to run basic systems and light areas such as stairways and corridors, which guests may need to use.
In-Room guests safes
Guests in accommodation often have a need to store valuables in their hotel and a wall safe gives them the option to securely store their travel documents, cash and other valuables. It also prevents blame being cast on the hotel or staff if anything goes missing.
Window locks for increased ventilation and safety
Lockable window latches are the perfect way for hotels to ensure that their rooms are properly ventilated, while still keeping the windows securely locked. This is great for hotels with multiple floors where fully open windows may pose a safety risk. Devices such as LockLatch and the smaller MiniLatch are designed for exactly this purpose. These security latches feature an adjustable C304 stainless steel arm that connects the window to the frame. The great thing about LockLatch is that the patented design can be fitted to any type of window from modern steel and aluminium to old wooden sash windows meaning no matter the type of accommodation they will be a perfect fit.
MiniLatch is also perfect for guest farms in areas where baboons and monkeys are a problem as the size of the opening is too small for these primates to enter through, but it still allows for fresh air to circulate in your guest room.
Train staff regularly
Hotel staff should be trained in all the systems of the hotel relevant to their role, however it is also a good move to have them trained in other skills that may be required in the case of an emergency. These include basic first aid training as well as fire safety and even customer relations.
Evacuation and emergency manuals
Evacuation procedures and emergency contact information should be made available to guests in their rooms and in public spaces. And while this is a good start, it is also important to train your staff on what to do in an emergency. Guests will take their lead from the staff if they need to evacuate for an emergency so it is essential that they know what to do in these situations.
Hotel security tips for guests
Now that we’ve covered what hotel owners can do, let’s take a look at some of the measures that guests can take to make their stay safer and more secure.
Check the door is secure and operational
Your hotel room is where you will store all your important items and documents when you aren’t around so it is essential that your hotel door is secure and has a functional lock. If this is not the case you should insist on a new room.
Make use of a door wedge
When you are in the room a door wedge is a great way of ensuring that you aren’t disturbed or that a stranger doesn’t enter your room. Door wedges are usually intended to keep doors open, but placing them on the inside of your closed door will add an extra layer of security.
Keep your luggage secure at all times
Luggage is designed to be portable, which makes it a prime target for a thief. When you’re in public places it is important to keep your luggage on you at all times, but even in the hotel room it is a good idea to keep your luggage in a locked cupboard if one is available.
Place a “Do not disturb” sign on the door and leave it there
If you are on a short stay and don’t need your room cleaned you should hang a do not disturb sign on your door, even if you are out. This will stop cleaning staff from entering your room and having access to your valuables.
Check safe is programmable
If your room has a safe, make sure that it is working and then be sure to use it. This is the most secure place to store your most valuable items when you aren’t around and remove the temptation from any hotel employees who might have access to your room.
Do not announce your room number
This is an incredibly important tip for women travelling alone. Be discreet about your room number. Do not announce it and if you need to communicate it to hotel staff be discreet and even write it down rather than say it out loud. This prevents any nefarious individuals from following you to your room or waiting for you outside your door.
Check if wifi is password protected
In the interest of giving guests easier access to the internet and social media, hotels and other forms of accommodation will often forego basic IT security, such as protecting their network adequately. If you need to use hotel WiFi then you should look at using VPN to secure your personal connection.
Increase your hotel safety and security by installing LockLatch products today.
No matter what type of accommodation you offer, a more secure environment means happier more relaxed guests. Why not start making your space a little safer with LockLatch or MiniLatch, the perfect security solution for the unique requirements of the hospitality industry.