In recent years, the security threats that face UK hotels have become more complex and hoteliers are forging new partnerships with the police to deal with some very modern threats.
Hotels are now seen as an attractive, “soft target” for terrorists and the number of high-profile attacks internationally has risen sharply in recent years.
Evidence suggests that hotels are fast becoming a preferred target because they offer easy access to highly populated buildings with comparatively low security measures. The people who gather in these places are often relaxed, on holiday or enjoying an evening out, so a key challenge is for hoteliers to implement more stringent security procedures that do not impact upon the guest experience – a problem that is particularly acute at the luxury end of the star rating.
“Hoteliers aim to provide a comfortable, but safe environment – and this is a huge challenge!” said Hans Kanold, CEO of the Safehotels Alliance in his recent interview with hotel-industry.co.uk.
“If the level of risk increases, then I think it’s important for security measures to become more visible, as required. However, be warned: visible security measures that cannot be acted on can be very damaging for a hotel. False cameras, inexperienced security guards and alarms that don’t work properly will fail during an incident and damage the reputation of the business in the long term.”
Call the Cops!
Hoteliers are now seeking advice from external organisations to secure the safety of their guests.
In partnership with local police forces, the National Counter Terrorism Security Office is delivering a programme of free workshops in all major towns and cities across the UK to show hoteliers how to plan, prepare, prevent and recover from a possible terrorist attack.
“The UK is recognised to be a target for terrorists,” warned Bob Stephens, head of Surrey Police’s Counter Terrorism Security Office. “The question is not IF, but WHERE and WHEN, and hoteliers must be prepared.”
“Project ARGUS is an excellent opportunity to judge how well-prepared your business is, increase your knowledge of terrorist issues, compare notes with other hoteliers, or just a chance for you and selected staff to experience a well-run security exercise.”
While there are no known specific terrorist threats to many of the regions surrounding London, terrorist attacks in the UK are a real and serious danger. Close proximity to London and the ongoing national threat which remains unchanged at “Severe” (an attack is highly likely) means that hoteliers operating in and around the city must “pull together” and protect the industry.
Suspicious activity can be reported confidentially to the Anti-Terrorist Hotline on 0800 789 321. However, hoteliers should call 999 if they have serious concerns about something currently taking place.
By Lee Jamieson