How to ensure your hotel is safe for guests and staff

To a newly married couple a hotel represents romance. To a family it's adventure. To a business person it's an office. But to all these people it should also represent security.

That also goes for your staff; those who deal with the daily influx of strangers who fill your beds. Your hotel is responsible for all those who come and go through your doors.

So here are a few tips to help ensure your hotel is also a safe haven.

Play all your cards

A significant number of hotel security issues stem from shady individuals being able to access areas they shouldn't. Guests want to feel safe in the knowledge that undesirables aren't lurking in the corridors outside their rooms. If guest key cards are required to access lifts and doors to all floors, the chances of thefts and even worse incidents are greatly reduced.

Yes, this means guests have to go to the lobby to fetch visitors. And yes, there will be some installation humbug and cost, but a safe guest is a regular guest and your diligence will be rewarded in time.

Don't play with fire

A hotel fire is about as scary as it gets. So even if you cut corners in other areas, don't skimp when it comes to minimising fire risks. Smoke detectors and sprinklers save lives and there is no such thing as too many. Bathrooms, bedrooms, kitchens, lobbies, dining rooms, storage rooms; put them everywhere. Same with fire extinguishers.

As a general rule, try to have at least one for every 200sqm of floor space and at least one on every floor. In the event of a fire, how far are your staff and guests from the nearest escape route? Try to keep fleeing distances under 50 metres, train all staff in evacuation procedures and have regular fire drills even if this means irate guests at 2am. They'll soon chill once they know they are part of a master plan to keep all guests alive.

Be an obvious big brother

Security cameras aren't known for their contribution to hospitality atmosphere, but they are certainly known to do their job – detract criminal and antisocial behaviour. People are far less likely to cause problems and put your staff and guests at risk if they know (or believe) they are being monitored. 

So how do you make undesirables 'believe' they are being watched? You'll want to attach either genuine or highly realistic CCTV cameras in visable yet impossible to reach areas; think high ceiling corners, for example. It's also a good idea to make a big of a song and dance about your security by posting warning signs outside the hotel, on each floor, and in areas that may otherwise appear to be hidden, such as fire escape stairs.  

Fortify your room safes

Safes in hotel rooms are notorious for being anything but safe. Are yours? By installing safes in guest rooms you are implying that precious jewellery, cash and passports will still be there when guests return at the end of the day. So make sure they are.

Avoid key lock or key pad safes as keys and cards are too easy to copy. Combination safes are generally the 'safest'. And how are your safes mounted? Is it easy to pry them up with a crowbar? Bolt them firmly to the floor inside a wardrobe and nothing problematic will bolt from your rooms. However, if guests have anything seriously valuable, always advise them to leave it in a safe deposit box at the front desk.

Protect your housekeepers

Of all hotel staff, housekeepers can be most at risk. After all they are cleaning and tidying in guest rooms most of the time. Sadly housekeepers do get attacked, be it by guests or opportunists spotting an open door. Make sure your housekeepers check rooms thoroughly first to ensure they are empty. And insist that they clean with the front door closed and locked.