Hotels in particular have been considered a soft target by extremist groups across the world, so what can hoteliers and indeed other hospitality businesses do in the way of a proportionate response to the increasing threat?
It is important to ensure that the response is proportionate and in particular a hotel needs to maintain a friendly and welcoming atmosphere in order to attract guests whilst doing all it can to protect them. There are also legal requirements under health and safety laws for companies and individuals who own or run hotels to consider a real possibility of a terrorist incident.
Terrorism can come in many forms, not just a physical attack on life and limb. Terrorism also includes threats or hoaxes designed to frighten and intimidate gold attacks designed to cause disruption and economic damage. It can include interference with vital operational, information or communication system, which can have an effect on the businesses ability to operate. Some attacks are easier to carry out if the terrorist is assisted by an 'insider' or by someone with specialist knowledge or access.
A compulsory action :
You have to understand your premises, identifying the threats to it, and its vulnerability to those threats. Hoteliers should over the coming month review and test current safety arrangements, audit them and as a result improve planning and response. In particular you should ensure training; information and equipment are provided to all staff, and especially to those involved directly on the safety and security side.
Supplementary security measures
You have to think about physical security, information security and personnel security. There is little point investing in costly security measures if they can be easily undermined by a disaffected member of staff or by a lax recruitment process. In the run up to a busy period it is easy to fall into the trap of being desperate for additional staff, and so be willing to circumvent normal background checks.
Before you invest in additional security measures, review what you already have in place. You may already have a good security system on which you can build. You should have measures in place to limit access into service or back of house corridors and vehicle access control measures into goods and service yards.
The staff may be unaware of existing security measures, or may have developed habits to circumvent them, e.g. short cuts through fire exits. Simply reinstating good basic security practices and regularly reviewing them will bring benefits at negligible cost. If you need additional security measures, then make them cost-effective by careful planning wherever possible. Try to introduce new equipment or procedures in conjunction with planned building work and remember that significant changes may require statutory consents such as planning permission or building regulations consents.
Re-examine your security measures
You have to regularly review and exercise your plans to ensure that they remain accurate, workable and up-to-date. You should be aware of the need to modify them to take into account any changes in your hotel. Rehearsals and exercises should wherever possible, be conducted in conjunction with emergency services and local authorities.
Be sure that your staff understand and accept the need for security measures and that security is seen as part of everyone's responsibility, not merely something for experts security professionals gold. Make it easy for people to raise concerns or report unusual activity and ensure that you investigate such comments.