Tag Archives: Guest Safety

Tech experts clarify ins and outs of door lock security

Hotel guestroom door locks and keycard systems that are connected to the internet pose security risks, technology experts say, but there’s also some widespread misconception about the nature of those risks.

hotel door key lock

The physical and digital security of hotel guestroom door locks has been a hot topic in the news lately, with the sometimes-sensationalized story of a hacker who extracted a ransom for a hotel’s keycard system.

For some clarity on the issue, Hotel News Now reached out to tech experts who explained what can and can’t happen with electronic door locks, what is vulnerable and how hoteliers can protect their properties and their guests from hackers.

Improved security
Guestroom door locks were traditionally treated as a piece of equipment maintained by a maintenance/building facilities engineer, said Armand Rabinowitz, senior director of strategy and workgroups at Hotel Technology Next Generation. This employee didn’t tend to be well-versed in technology unless they happened to be so for another reason, he said.

“That has changed as the position has become increasingly more technical,” he said. “Ten years ago, electronic locks didn’t need to be, nor were (they) connected to the internet.”

Locks were connected to an encoder or local serial connection, he said, which is a basic protocol that doesn’t travel across internet-connected devices. The physical protocol became outdated as hotels moved to IP-based connections, he said, which requires hoteliers to be careful in how they implement the system.

Everything at Greenwood Hospitality’s properties is on a guarded back-office, closed network, said Paul Wood, VP of revenue generation. The network is scanned for malware and viruses, he said. Locks are sequenced with encoders, he said, and this is a safe process as long as hotels have the system set up correctly.

The code connects the guest key with the lock, he said. Once it hits checkout time, the sequence says it’s time, and the keycard access shuts off.

“From a safety factor/feature perspective, it’s been this way more than 20 years,” he said. “The industry has it down pat.”

Systems today have a long history in the industry, Rabinowitz said, and they’re widely adopted in the world. In most cases, the communication protocols between online door locks are so limited that to transmit a code that would constitute a virus is challenging, if not impossible, he said.

“There would have to be a physical compromise to the point of replacing parts, rendering it unusual by the existing system,” he said.

Training and policies
Hotel managers should treat a door lock system like any other valuable IT asset, Rabinowitz said. That means ensuring all implementation security standards have been put in place for both physical and remote access, he said. There also should be an update process to ensure the system is running on the latest software, he said, and antivirus and security software must be installed on all machines that touch or run any of the lock system-based software.

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Filed under Hotel Industry, Hotel Security, Liability, Risk Management, Technology, Theft

How to Prepare for Potential Threats to Security

Daniel Johnson, CHA, serves as a hotel analyst for Travel Channel’s Hotel Impossible and is vice president of operations for Argeo Hospitality. Here, he sits down with LODGING to answer one of the most pressing issues he believes hoteliers face.

hotel security

In light of recent security issues, as a hotel outside the U.S., what should we be considering in our day-to-day operations?

There have been numerous incidents in the U.S. and abroad and, in October, a celebrity had her room intruded upon by individuals dressed as police officers in Paris. Preparedness is not something that comes when there is a news story to scare you into a concern. It has to be an integral part of the operation from day one in an unending and enduring effort to remain vigilant. You have to have a plan. Period. It’s not a suggestion, it’s not a recommendation, it’s a requirement. When it comes to your hotel, devise a plan for the possibilities you face and tailor reactions for your specific operation. First, remember that you can plan but you can’t plan for every eventuality. You can, however, train, train, train. Once your plan is in place, train your staff on it, then train again, then analyze the results, then train again. Having a third party review your plan is never a bad idea.

Second, know your hotel’s exterior like the back of your hand. In order to gain access, individuals have to cross your grounds, parking lot, delivery points, or some other means of entry. What are your strengths and weakness? How is the lighting? Is there anything that needs to be addressed with security or surveillance?

Third, encourage your staff to meet and greet. Every guest, every visitor, every vendor should be greeted with a smile and a question, “May I help you?” These are opportunities to wow your guests that also double as a chance to pay attention to the comings and goings within the building.

 

See complete article from Lodging Magazine

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Filed under Guest Issues, Hotel Employees, Hotel Industry, Hotel Security, Risk Management

Pooling Responsibilities

Almost everyone going on holiday to a warm climate will, at some point, end up in a swimming pool. But the ‘do not dive’ signs and depth warnings don’t always have the desired effect, added to which are huge variations in safety laws. Robin Gauldie assesses the dangers lurking in the depthshotel pool,underwater swimming, pool safety

Clearly, there are risks associated with swimming or even paddling on beaches where strong currents, tides and freak waves can take their toll, as can irresponsible use of powered beach toys like personal watercraft, banana boats and water skis (see ITIJ 193, February 2017, The fast and the furious … and the fatal). Yet swimming pools at resort hotels and holiday villas may ultimately be riskier than beaches for vacationers and their insurers. Travelers from countries such as Australia and the UK, where safety standards are rigorous, need to be made aware that such standards are not universal.
“As Australia has such strict water safety rules, some people assume swimming areas are safe everywhere in the world,” comments Richard Warburton, chief operating officer of 1Cover Travel Insurance, an Australian insurer. “The truth is, many popular overseas destinations, such as Thailand and Bali, just don’t have the same safety protocols in place, and holidaymakers may be at greater risk when swimming. For example, pool gates are virtually non-existent in many Asian and European destinations.”

Resort pools seem to provoke risky behaviour in a significant number of holidaymakers too. Each holiday season brings a crop of media stories covering accidents – sometimes fatal – involving tourists jumping into hotel pools from balconies, or diving into shallow pools. “Some people, particularly young adult males, take risks they wouldn’t normally take if they were at home,” says Warburton. “They don’t think of consequences.” There is an ongoing need to make insureds aware that travel insurance has its limits, he adds.

In Europe particularly, the craze known as ‘balconing’ is often a result of an alcohol-fuelled night out giving holidaymakers a sense of invincibility. Warburton, though, warns: “One of the most common misconceptions people have about travel insurance is in relation to alcohol consumption. If an accident happens and a person is under the influence, they may not be able to successfully make a claim, depending on the circumstances. This is why we encourage customers to thoroughly read all the terms and conditions of their policy. We strive to be as transparent as we can, educating customers about all facets of the policies. We want to ensure people fully understand what their policy covers them for, so they can make properly informed decisions.”

According to Megan Freedman, executive director of the US Travel Insurance Association, insurers in the US would be unlikely to turn down claims for the costs of medical treatment or assistance arising from such accidents on the sole grounds of recklessness. “Claims would not be excluded based on irresponsible behavior. However, a claim may be denied if the cause was use of alcohol or drugs, intentional self-infliction of harm or an illegal act,” she says. Some policies in the UK, by contrast, specifically exclude claims resulting from falls or jumps from balconies, as accidents and subsequently expensive medical claims resulting from such activities have arisen so often.

Preventing tragedies
Reckless teenagers, however hair-raising their escapades, are not the only source of claims arising from pool accidents. Even in destinations that are famed for their beaches and long coastlines, such as Greece or the Algarve, almost all drownings of young children occur in swimming pools, according to the European Child Safety Alliance (ECSA). In Australia, too, tourist-related swimming pool deaths involving very young children continue to be of concern, according to the Australian Water Safety Council (AWSC). The organisation has called on the tourism industry to implement water safety and risk management plans in resorts and hotels, including signage, effective barriers and education programs.
In many destinations, most such drownings occur in pools at private residences, but a significant number happen in the pools of resort hotels or holiday villas, as is the case with the much more numerous non-fatal accidents that take place in and around swimming pools each holiday season. The ECSA has estimated that for every child fatality, there may be as many as 140 near-drownings resulting in hospital admissions.

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Filed under Guest Issues, Hotel Industry, Injuries, Pool And Spa, Risk Management

High Wind Warning in Southwestern California

PACIFIC STORM SYSTEM TO BRING DAMAGING HIGH WINDS TO SOCAL…

A strong Pacific storm system will move across Southern California today through Saturday. Winds will increase and become very strong towards midday. The strongest winds and biggest potential for damaging wind gusts between 2 PM and Midnight. More info on the storm from Google Alert

Does your hotel have an emergency response plan in place? Does your staff know how to respond to severe weather emergencies? This short video will cover proper steps to prepare your staff on how to respond to these type of emergencies.

Petra, Severe Weather, Hotels, california

 

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Filed under Business Interruption Insurance, Claims, Flood Insurance, Hotel Industry, Hotel Restaurant, Insurance, Liability, Risk Management, Severe Weather

Petra will be at CH&LA’s New Year, New Laws Seminar – Anaheim

If you are near Anaheim, CA, you don’t want to miss CH&LA’s annual seminar on the new laws affecting hoteliers in 2017.
Our very own Todd Seiders, Director of Risk Managment, will be presenting at the seminar.

Register today at CH&LA

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Filed under ADA, Bed Bugs, Conferences, Employee Practices, Food Illnesses, Guest Issues, Hotel Employees, Hotel Industry, Housekeeping, Human Resources, Legislation, Management And Ownership, OSHA, Pool And Spa, Privacy, Risk Management, Technology

Mitigating the Risk of Food-Borne Illnesses at Hotels

Think of a hotel located near a stretch of bucolic farmland. Picture the large fields of crops, cows and sheep grazing behind picturesque fences. While this may seem like a calm and relaxing scenario, one that attracts guests eager to get a taste of the country life, they could be getting a mouthful of something much less appetizing. Flies are abundant in areas with livestock, and, unfortunately, can transmit food-borne diseases.

Ron Harrison, Ph.D., a technical services director at pest control specialist Orkin, is currently working with a number of hotels suffering from pest problems, and, as a result, compromised food safety. “Hotels have to do everything they can to ensure that pests don’t enter the property, because they can cause food-related illnesses if they get access to the property’s food supply,” Harrison says.

food borne

Pests are just one of many factors that can affect food safety and spread food-borne illnesses, which are a major issue in the United States. Francine Shaw, president of Food Safety Training Solutions, a company that offers food-related consulting and training services, says that food poisoning affects one in six Americans every year. And, in that same time frame, it also causes the hospitalization of 120,000 people and leads to 3,000 deaths. “It seems like every time we turn on the television, pick up a newspaper, or read the news online, there’s another outbreak. But the amazing thing is that the huge, multi-state outbreaks spotlighted in the news are only responsible for 11 percent of all food-borne illnesses,” she explains.

More on the article: http://bit.ly/2f1XGrZ

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Showing Housekeeping Staff Appreciation

Housekeepers are an integral part of the hotel industry, and employee appreciation is a professional form of endearment that not only boosts the morale of the workplace but also the quality of work being produced, with 91 percent of workers saying they feel motivated to do their best when they have leadership support. Madeline Chang, director of housekeeping at Aston Waikiki Sunset in Honolulu and director at large of the International Executive Housekeepers Association (IEHA), explains why hoteliers should take a second look at how they appreciate their housekeeping staff.

housekeeping
How can hoteliers be better attuned to their housekeepers’ needs?
Housekeepers are the eyes and ears of any operation. They have a direct impact on your guests’ experience, so it’s important to listen to them and hear the challenges or frustrations they might be experiencing. While you can create an open-door policy that establishes a channel for them to communicate with you, not all housekeepers will do that, so you should take the time to regularly walk the floors and speak with them directly. Hold daily morning briefings (which is a must not only for them but for me to set the tone for the day), carry out observations, get them to communicate their thoughts and suggestions, and make them an integral part of the operation. This buy-in from the management team and teammates is extremely helpful. Always keep them in the loop.

What are some ways in which hoteliers are already getting it right with housekeeper appreciation?

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Hotel, travel industries join forces to urge congressional action on Zika funding

There are daily headlines about the Zika virus. Although local transmission of the disease is currently contained within a very limited space in southern Florida, public uncertainty abounds—especially around the state and among those with any plans to travel there. State and federal public health officials are working with the resources available to them—but the U.S. Congress, mired in election-year politicking, has failed to advance a Zika funding measure.

Zika

That needs to change immediately. Safeguarding the public health, on its own, demands action. But not to be dismissed is the potential economic damage to the Floridian and national economies simply because people are too apprehensive about Zika to go about their daily lives.

Travel avoidance due to Zika fears poses a serious challenge to our nation’s travel industry, which generates $2.1 trillion in economic output for the U.S., drives job creation across the United States, and is among the top 10 employers in 49 states and the District of Columbia. Travel and tourism has continuously played a major role in our country’s post-recession recovery. Continued inaction on Zika funding puts this recovery—and millions of American jobs—on shaky ground.

For more info: http://bit.ly/2dkhNRK

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Join Petra Risk Solutions at CH&LA’s S.A.F.E Forum & Expo

Petra CH&LA SAFE

Register today at CH&LA

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Filed under Conferences, Crime, Guest Issues, Hotel Employees, Hotel Industry, Risk Management, Theft, Training

Safety & Security Tips for Hotel Management

Providing an accommodating atmosphere that doesn’t compromise safety is the biggest challenge that hotels face. Achieving these goals requires a multifaceted plan that starts with staff training and guest education about safety and security issues. Management must also consistently enforce established security policies, such as allowing only registered guests on hotel property. Constant planning to stay ahead of these issues is also a must, especially when the hotel hosts public events.

hotel security

Control Access
Controlling access is an important part of hotel security planning to prevent criminals from stealing money and valuables from guest rooms. Management must train contractors and staff in controlling room key distribution and restricting access to registered guests only. During off-hours, security personnel should be stationed at all main access points to greet people, while deterring anyone with no business on the property, including disruptive or intoxicated non-guests.

 

Educate Guests
Hotel staff has a responsibility to educate guests about safety and security responsibilities. The challenge is getting the message across without negatively affecting the customer’s experience. For example, the bellman can stress the importance of locking hotel room doors to prevent strangers from entering. Front desk clerks can also discourage guests from actions that leave them vulnerable to thieves, such as flashing room keys or yelling room numbers across the lobby.

Patrol Public Areas
Technology has come a long way in helping hotels to upgrade basic security measures. Closed-circuit TV cameras with recording systems are essential for securing such busy public spaces as bars, docks, lounges, and parking lots. However, these areas also allow open access for disruptive persons, muggers and pickpockets. Active monitoring of the camera images by staff and proper lighting reduces the opportunities for such crimes. Offering a security concierge to escort guests also minimizes the risk of non-assaultive crimes, such as luggage thefts.

Advance Measures
Communicating basic safety and security measures becomes even more important at public events such as conventions, where travelers may feel as if they’re leaving real world dangers behind. To head off problems, management should send advance communiques to event attendees. The notices should contain basic safety tips, such as the need for locking doors, not leaving cellphones and laptops unattended, and being alert in public areas.

For more info: ( http://bit.ly/2agiHgI )

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