Hotels present special security challenges since they are restrictive areas and we are generally in unfamiliar surroundings. Even hotels that have strong security policies and procedures in place, they are still vulnerable to break-ins, theft, fraud, and other crimes. This is why we dedicate an entire module on hotel security, so you will have the information necessary to enjoy your next hotel stay. Here are a few precautions that you should take:
- Stay in reputable lodging if available. Chose a hotel for safety. Obtain a recommendation from friends or web sites like TripAdvisor.
- Do not discuss your business or travel plans in public areas where they may be overheard.
- Discuss your travel plans and movements during your stay with as few people as possible.
- Consider the surrounding neighborhood, proximity to police, and reputation for good administration.
- Choose a hotel with centralized access control and strong perimeter defenses.
- Protection by hotel security personnel.
- Electronic key card security to reduce vulnerability to crime.
- Controlled elevator access, either by card or code.
- Closed-circuit television (CCTV) monitoring in the lobby, elevators, and other common areas.
- 3rd to 5th floors — rooms on the 1st and 2nd floors are easily accessible from the outside, and rooms above the 5th floor are difficult to reach by emergency services.
- Choose a room that opens to the hotel interior; threat activities are deterred by the observation of hotel staff. Exterior entrances may be less protected.
- No balcony - criminals use balconies to enter rooms and go from room to room.
- Rooms directly next to emergency exits are often targeted for theft, but rooms far from emergency exits may hinder your ability to evacuate.
- Rooms with solid doors make more effective barricades in the event of an attack.
- Request a room that does not have a door to an adjoining room.
- Request a different room upon check-in; this may protect you from someone who managed to get your room number from a reservation. Change rooms every few days to be more unpredictable if you suspect you are at risk.
Lesson 10.2 – What to do When you Arrive
After you check in make sure you do a complete room inspection. You want to ensure that you check for the following:
- Functioning locks on all doors and windows.
- Scratches or marks on door frame that might indicate a prior attempt to break-in.
- Location of emergency exits and escape routes.
- Operational telephone.
Activities in the Hotel:
- Minimize your public exposure and recognizability. Blend in.
- Vary routines and patterns in the hotel. Conceal room location by entering when hallway is empty. Get off elevator on wrong floors; change elevators or take stairs.
- Do not entertain strangers in your hotel room. If you plan to have meetings, schedule a conference room through the business center for maximum privacy if the information you wish to discuss is private or sensitive. Alternatively, you can use the library, lounge, or a quiet spot in a café if your discussion requires no expectation of privacy
- Pre-plan emergency actions; write down emergency numbers.
- Do not accept unexpected deliveries and visitors. Call hotel desk to confirm identities of hotel employees.
- Maintain control of your room key.
- Make your room look occupied when you are out. Keep TV and lights on; put "do not disturb" sign on door.
- Use the door chain or bolt lock whenever you are in your room.
- Lock valuables in hotel safe; don't carry all of your ID documents.
- Keep your room neat so you will notice disturbed or missing items quickly. I always straighten out my room when leaving. I place clothes and items back in my suitcase or in the closet or a drawer. Again, all valuables and sensitive information go in the safe or safe deposit box.
- You can purchase portable travel alarms to employ in your hotel room – hanging alarms that you hang on your door knob and are set off by vibration when someone opens, or tries to open, your door; doorstop alarms that wedge under the door like a doorstop and are set off, again, by someone trying to force the door open; and motion detector alarms that can be placed in your room to cover a specific area, like the door and entranceway, which are set off by the motion of someone walking past the sensor. All of these can be purchased on Amazon or at stores like Home Depot and Lowes.
If you follow this advice you will make yourself a “hard target” and criminal elements will look elsewhere for a victim. Now if you do experience a crime during your stay, don’t just complain to the hotel, but file a police report as well. If you do this there is a good chance your homeowners’ insurance policy may cover certain items stolen and the insurance company will need a copy of the police report.