Terrorist Threat: Hotels Dealing with Terrorist Threats

Phil Benson discovers how hoteliers can work together to stave off the terrorist threat and protect the industry.

The safety and enjoyment of guests has to be the main concern for all hoteliers, especially in these times of global terrorism. From the threat posed by the IRA in the 1980s and 1990s, to today’s threat from religious extremism, the UK has had the shadow of terrorism hanging over it for some time.

The security threats faced by hotels in the UK have become far more complex. Everyday technology like mobile phones have been used as remote detonators to devastating effect in a number of major capital cities across the world.

However, the response and partnerships that have been forged between hoteliers and security services have also become stronger and more multi-faceted to deal with the modern day terrorist.

Unfortunately, many hotels are seen as soft targets where many people congregate, with international attacks on hotels and resorts increasing in recent years. Evidence suggests that these highly populated buildings, with perceived low security and guests who are trying to relax and are less vigilant, becoming targets that are more attractive to radicals.

New Terrorist Threats

Hotel security expert at Farina and Associates, Philip Farina, confirmed in a recent interview with hotel-industry.co.uk that the nature of threats to hotels has changed over the last decade.

“The use of technology has greatly impacted how criminals can target hotels,” he said. “For instance, instead of visiting a hotel to collect many pieces of information, a criminal can now scan the internet, pulling up specifics about room numbers, location to other areas of interest, the leadership team and photos of critical areas in the property. Using applications like Google Earth, a criminal can diagram the structure and their escape routes.”

New Partnerships

The National Counter Terrorism Office has, in partnership with local police forces, delivered free workshops throughout the major towns and cities across the country to demonstrate to hotel bosses how to plan, prepare, prevent and recover from any possible act of terrorism. Hoteliers in the UK are now approaching external organisations in a bid to secure the safety of their guests and enhance the status of the business.

Farina believes this is an important step to take. “Hoteliers should consider the utilisation of board-certified security consultants and vendors as they will have critical security insight about your property,” he explained. “Let us face it, even the best employee security teams can become complacent and may only be able to view security from the inside out. While this has some benefit, it pales in comparison to a vendor who is experienced in hotel operations and qualified to analyse your property from the outside in or through the eyes of what would be a potential criminal.”

Although there are no specific terrorist plots known, the UK threat level remains severe; this according to the Home Office definition, means that ‘a terrorist attack is highly likely’. London in particular is always on high alert and this danger is only likely to increase as the city gears up to host the 2012 Olympic Games.

Hoteliers across the UK, but especially in the major towns and cities must work together to protect the industry from the ongoing threat of terrorism.

By Phil Benson

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