Tag Archives: Hotel Security

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 The physical protocol became outdated as hotels moved to IP-based connections, he said, which requires hoteliers to be careful in how they implement the system.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.

Click here to read more about Hotel News Now Tech Impact Report Article


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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

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

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


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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Filed under Crime, Guest Issues, Management And Ownership, Risk Management

Successful Education Session at CH&LA SoCal Conference

Petra Risk Solutions had a successful education session at CH&LA‘s SoCal Conference. Todd Seiders, CLSD, Director of Risk Management, presented “Today’s Safety & Security Challenges for Hotels”. Over 100 people attended! They walked away educated and with a better understanding on how to handle phone scams, human trafficking situations, renting hotel room to minors, ADA scams, and the recent Erin Andrews/ privacy ruling.  Todd CH&LA NoCal & SoCal conference

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Filed under Claims, Conferences, Crime, Guest Issues, Hotel Employees, Hotel Industry, Hotel Restaurant, Insurance, Risk Management, Theft

Join Petra Risk Solutions at CH&LA’s California Conferences

CHLA Marketing Flyer 040116 FINAL

For more information on the Northern California Hotel & Lodging Conference, click here!

For more information on the Southern California Hotel & Lodging Conference, click here!

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Filed under Conferences, Hotel Industry, Management And Ownership, Risk Management, Technology

Next-Gen Leaders Must Be Open to Change

This year’s Asian American Hotel Owners Association convention was all about success and how to achieve positive performance in an era of new brand launches, generational leadership change, and external disruptors.

Mike Leven, president and COO of Las Vegas Sands Corporation and an original organizer of what would become AAHOA, kicked off Thursday’s general session with a call to action for the rising tide of second-generation Asian-American hoteliers who are growing their own footprints in the business.


“What happens when you are successful?” he asked. “You stop doing what made you get there in the first place, and that’s where the danger comes in.”

Leven said that as the industry faces change, the next generation of leaders must change with it, especially if they hope to be successful during downturns.

“The status quo is a prescription for failure,” he said. “You have a responsibility to continue to be dynamic in the search for change, for doing things different, for not being satisfied.”

Hotel franchise company executives echoed those statements on Thursday’s “Industry CEOs” panel and encouraged members to continue to be involved in their franchise organizations and the larger industry.

The CEOs shared insight into consumer trends, highlighting why creating excellent guest experiences will translate into strong bottom-line performance.

“We see people choosing experience over product—we see this in retail, in consumer products and certainly in travel,” said Mark Hoplamazian, president and CEO of Hyatt Hotels Corporation. “The idea that the product has to be perfect is weakening. Instead, people are looking for a holistic, experiential time.”

He advised attendees to make sure they’re creating those shareable experiences for guests.

Hilton Worldwide Holdings President and CEO Chris Nassetta echoed that sentiment that guests are all about experience these days. He told attendees that creating positive cultures at the hotel level are what will make those experiences great.

For more: http://bit.ly/1RXFL3R

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Filed under Guest Issues, Hotel Industry, Maintenance, Management And Ownership, Social Media, Technology, Training

Legionella: A Growing Problem in the Hospitality Industry

Legionella bacteria were identified in 1976 as the cause of Legionnaires’ disease (a deadly pneumonia) and Pontiac fever. More recently, rates of contamination and infection have been on the rise across the United States and around the world. Not only are there new, unexpected sources of contamination, but also drinking water sources and infrastructure (in addition to premise plumbing) have been implicated in the increased spread of Legionella. In order to avoid expensive, public evacuation and closure, hotel operators are beginning to monitor their facilities for Legionella contamination.


According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Legionella infection has a 5 to 30 percent mortality rate and is responsible for at least 8,000 to 18,000 U.S. hospitalizations each year. The sick and elderly are most vulnerable, but anyone is susceptible. Each week there are new reports of Legionella contamination in hotels, cruise ships, and hospitals that has resulted in closure for remediation. Several high-profile deadly outbreaks have occurred recently, including one around Flint, Mich., (nine deaths) associated with its lead contamination. Twelve deaths from Legionnaires’ contracted at a hotel in the South Bronx last summer prompted New York State to pass a regulation on the monitoring of cooling towers for Legionella. Because contamination is intensifying—The Lancet reported a 219 percent increase in reported cases of infection during 2000-2009—incidents like these, and subsequent regulations like New York’s, are expected to become more common.

Legionella prefers warm, wet environments, but because it can grow in a wide range of temperatures and conditions, it is ubiquitous in both natural and industrial environments. Infection occurs after inhalation, so any process that creates fine water droplets or aerosols (evaporative condensers, showers, spas, pools, decorative water features, or sprinklers) can spread Legionella. More unusual cases of infection have occurred as well. Recently, The New England Journal of Medicine reported strong evidence of person-to-person transmission. Grocery store produce misters in the United States and abroad have caused outbreaks when not cleaned regularly. Particularly surprising was the spread of Legionella through communities in Spain by street paving and cleaning trucks, resulting in 59 cases and 11 deaths. In these cases, identifying, removing, and cleaning the vehicles responsible ended the outbreaks.

In its Hotel Safety and Security Assessment Form, the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA) recommends that procedures be in place to monitor and mitigate Legionella. It is essential to detect the bacteria early with a rapid, on-site test, allowing prompt, targeted treatment. This will minimize the risk of more extensive contamination leading to closure and undesirable publicity, or worse, infection of employees or guests. However, the Legionella detection methods currently in use fail to meet all of the above criteria. Culturing, the method recommended by ASHRAE Standard 188-2015 for building water systems, is generally accurate and quantitative, but very slow (one to two weeks), and, for multiple reasons, plagued by false negatives. PCR is faster, though not rapid (8-24 hours), not quantitative, and is subject to both false positives and negatives. Both methods are elaborate and expensive, cannot be performed on-site, and require scientific training. Strip tests are simple, but not quantitative, and do not detect all of the deadly species of Legionella.

A new method being adopted by hotel chains and cruise lines, called immunomagnetic separation capture enzyme immunoassay (IMS-CEIA), meets the need for a fast, on-site Legionella test without the disadvantages of the other methods. With minimal training, it can be used by facility employees to monitor water systems and cooling towers, so that when necessary, prompt action can be taken while a subset of samples are sent for confirmation by culture testing.

The continued global expansion of Legionella contamination and outbreaks has heightened the need for preventive monitoring by the hospitality industry. Incorporation of a testing program that can be performed on-site by hotel staff will enable rapid, targeted mitigation.

For more: http://bit.ly/1M0iYSv

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Filed under Claims, Health, Hotel Industry, Management And Ownership, Risk Management

What the Erin Andrews Lawsuit Means for Hoteliers

erin andrews

A jury’s decision this week to award sportscaster Erin Andrews $55 million in a civil suit against her stalker and the owner and management company of the Nashville hotel in which the man secretly videotaped her will have repercussions for the hotel industry for years to come, sources said.

In 2008, Michael David Barrett recorded Andrews while she was nude through the peephole of her hotel guestroom at the Nashville Marriott at Vanderbilt University. Barrett, who later pleaded guilty to felony stalking in 2009, discovered which room was Andrews’ and reversed the peephole in the door to see inside. The jury in Andrews’ civil suit found Barrett, as well as the owner of the hotel, West End Hotel Partners, and the management company, Windsor Capital Group, to be responsible.

Andrews had originally included Marriott International in her original suit; however, the court in Tennessee found that Marriott had no liability in the case, and dismissed it.

Stephen Barth, a professor of hospitality law at the Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management at the University of Houston and founder of hospitalitylawyer.com, testified on behalf of the defense during the civil trial. The defendants in this case did what they were supposed to do, Barth said in an interview with HNN, and he believes that because the companies were focused and diligent on their policies, procedures and employee training, it gave the jury members pause during their deliberations.

With the outcome of the case, Barth stressed that just as before, it’s important for hoteliers to have the right policies and procedures in place as well as the proper training for staff to deal with guest privacy issues.

“You need to be able to demonstrate the training that went on, the frequency and outcomes,” Barth said. “How do you evaluate whether the training was effective? Ultimately, you have to be able to demonstrate this in a courtroom.”

Policies, procedures and training

David Samuels, partner at Michelman & Robinson, said one of the issues that jumped out at him in following the trial was whether the management company had the proper policies and procedures in place regarding guest privacy. He said he believes several jury members were bothered by the testimony of some hotel staff who couldn’t recall having those policies. Samuels followed the trial but was not directly involved in it.
At this point, all owners and operators should review how they’re running their properties and whether they have specific written policies and procedures in place.

“They need to have those and effectively train the staff on it,” Samuels said.

Along with having those policies in place, hoteliers should regularly update those policies based on legal developments, such as the Andrews case, according to Sylvia St. Clair, an associate with Faegre Baker Daniels. If there’s any question about whether a policy is in compliance with the law or industry standards, she said, contact legal counsel or the human resources department.

“Then ensure (that) new hires receive that training as well as existing employees,” she said.

If a front-desk associate receives a request for a guest’s private information, such as his or her guestroom number, St. Clair said the associate should know not to give that information out unless he or she is authorized to do so. The associate should know to contact his or her manager or supervisor with questions.

“You want a statement to give to (anyone) requesting information,” St. Clair said. “Make sure employees know if they are receiving these types of requests, and the person requesting is continually asking, they shouldn’t hesitate to get their manager or GM involved.”

After completing the training, St. Clair said, document the training in employees’ files to show they received the latest version of the policy and understand it.

House phone access

During the civil trial, there was a dispute over how Andrews stalker learned which guest room was hers, Samuels said.
Andrews attorneys argued her stalker learned from the front-desk staff, an allegation the associates denied during the trial. Her stalker, Barrett, said in a taped deposition that he figured out Andrews room number by using an internal house phone at the hostess stand in the hotel restaurant.

“Those are only supposed to be used by employees,” Samuels said.

Barrett called the front desk and asked to speak with Andrews, Samuels said, and when the line was connected, Andrews room number appeared on the phone’s LCD screen. Barrett then went to her floor, saw the room next to hers was being turned over and then requested at the front desk to be in that room.

“From a privacy standpoint, from a safety standpoint, hotel guests should never be allowed to use an internal house phone that displays the room number on an LCD screen,” Samuels said.

If guests need a house phone, he said, they should be directed to one without an LCD screen and it should connect to an operator.

Similarly, hotel employees should be aware of who may be looking over their shoulders when using phones that display room numbers, he said.

Red flags

In the plaintiff’s closing argument, Andrews attorneys asked why the front-desk staff was not more critical about someone asking for a specific room, especially one next door to Andrews, according to Christian Stegmaier, a shareholder at Collins & Lacy. Stegmaier followed the case but was not directly involved in it.
That argument might presume too much about Andrews’ fame at the time, he said, as the front-desk associate may not have put two and two together.

“The takeaway from all of that is when you have a prospective guest making very specific requests, like about specific rooms, you need to be critical (of it),” he said.

Asking some gentle questions might allow the associate to learn a little more about the person making the request and why that specific room is so important to them, Stegmaier said.

“From a management perspective, you need to empower your associates to use that kind of critical thinking,” he said. “You want to encourage that.”

That is doubly important when the front-desk staff is aware of any celebrities or dignitaries staying in the hotel, Samuels said. Any requests for a specific room adjacent to such guests should send up a “big, red flag,” he said.

For more: http://bit.ly/1VcP6UN

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Filed under Crime, Employee Practices, Guest Issues, Hotel Employees, Hotel Industry, Liability, Management And Ownership, Privacy, Risk Management, Training