A bone chilling reminder of why hotels need to be secured are the gruesome attacks that happened in 2008 in Mumbai. The Taj Mahal Hotel, India’s most prominent hotel, and the Trident were under siege by terrorists for close to 48 nightmarish hours. These terror attacks were a turning page in security measures in public places of India and particularly hotels.

But, around the globe, luxury hotels have a constant inflow of guests while not being as secure or carefully guarded as embassies or government buildings and terrorists have recognized that the hospitality sector is an easier target. Earlier this year, a luxury hotel in Burkina Faso in West Africa was stormed by four terrorists, claiming the lives of 28 guests from 18 countries; in 2015, an armed gunman attacked a holiday resort in Tunisia killing 39 guests;  in 2009, the Ritz Carlton and JW Marriot were targeted by suicide bombers who had checked into the hotels as guests.

While it is difficult to foolproof against mindless terror attacks, it is possible to follow security protocols to minimize threats and keep guests safe. The hospitality industry has particularly realized the importance of security measures in hotels to mitigate terror danger. Following 2008 Mumbai attacks, the Hotel Association of India (HAI) recommended security guidelines for hotels.  “Hotels have become vulnerable to terror attacks on account of their high profile guests, that include foreign guests and hence attract the attention of international and national media alike,” it stated.

Owing to internal and external security threats in India, the country has in the last few years seen the rise of specialized security equipment made in India. While adhering to quality standards, the equipment come at a competitive and affordable price, have the advantage of low minimum order quantity as well as are often customizable.

Renato Cudicio, CEO of Arsha Consulting and extensive world traveler feels that the level of security in hotels everywhere is largely inadequate. “I’ve rarely seen the right level of security. Most of the time the equipment is bad or it doesn’t exist at all,” he says.

Adding that “this is more critical in Europe and central Africa. While the situation is volatile and they are facing real and direct threats, security continues to be often non-existent.”

Levels of Security Measures in Hotels

Security for a hotel must begin even before the gate with a “pre-entrance check”. Vehicles need to be checked a few meters ahead of the gate.

This is followed by security at the front gate. A fool proof under the vehicle scanner, explosive detector and number plate recognition devices are basics that need to be part of this preliminary security check. Retractable bollards, short humps, road barriers are recommended to reduce the speed of vehicles, while tyre killers need to be in place to safeguard any vehicular intrusions.

This is usually followed by baggage checks and basic hand held metal and explosive detector checks at the hotel entrance. Advanced detectors will be able to spot persons who have in the last 48 hours been in contact with explosives.

While several hotels are slowly putting these basic checks in place, there are other areas that hotels need to be vigilant about. “Most of the time security is great at the front gate, but back doors are hardly safeguarded,” points out Cudicio. “Threats are easy to be introduced through a contact. A hotel will have hundreds of vendors, employees and guests leading to multiple access points. Entry and delivery by all must be part of an organized recognition database managed through a monitoring room.” Sometimes terrorists find a way through ‘insiders’, therefore limiting and monitoring access to corridors and sections of the hotel should not be neglected.

There can also be special occasions such as conferences or VIPs staying at a hotel when there needs to be more vigilance and caution. Having procedures for such occasions can be helpful.  Periodic as well as sudden reviews of security are necessary in order to not become complacent.

At the end of the day, a hotel is a place where a guest must feel safe rather than anxious. Therefore, it is also very important to choose the most appropriate security measures that ensure safety while not seeming threatening. There must be the right level of security with the right equipment which ideally doesn’t reduce the speed of the guests. While maintaining stringent security, the hospitality industry has the responsibility of being welcoming.

Arsha Consulting specializes in sourcing high quality security Equipment made in India as well as other countries. Door frame and hand held metal detectors, road blockers, bollards, crash barriers, types of tyre killers, under vehicle scanning systems are among some of the equipment they source to make hotels and other places safe.

Elizabeth Raj |Blogger - Arsha Consulting

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