“Travelers should take safety precautions more seriously, and travel security should be higher on their checklist than cleanliness,” Jim Villa, a senior vice president and North American manager for Chubb’s Accident & Health business, said in a statement. “It seems that more people are concerned about housekeeping than security.”
Peter Greenburg did an interesting and helpful piece a few years ago following the terrorist attacks on two U.S.-branded hotels in Jakarta, Indonesia, How Safe Is My Hotel? An In-Depth Look at Hotel Security. Essentially, he noted that few hotels in the U.S. have implemented high-security measures like their more targeted counterparts in other countries.It’s generally agreed that hotels in the U.S. are not currently considered a high terrorist threat, which mean that few hotel owners are willing to spend money on ramping up security with high-ticket—and potentially invasive—items such as metal detectors, X-ray machines and explosive vapor detectors. In many cases, the most a U.S. hotel will do to improve safety and security is increase the number of security cameras and closed-circuit television in public spaces and guestroom floors, limit access points into the building, require key cards to get to guest room floors, and train staff to be alert to odd behavior. Furthermore, those measures aren’t there solely to prevent terrorist attacks: they also help prevent more common crimes like theft and assault.
- Report entrances and exits unmanned by security personnel.
- Report any unattended bags, just as you would in an airport.
- Report if multiple deliveries are being made to one guest.
- Report if there are vehicles parked in front of the lobby for any extended period of time.
- Report if there is a Do Not Disturb sign on the door for more than a few hours (honeymooners excluded).
- Read the evacuation map and mentally note the quickest escape route.
- Stay in the back of the hotel. You won’t get the view but attacks tend to come from the front.
- In a foreign country, stay at locally owned and operated hotels.
- Avoid hotels on major thoroughfares or next to embassies or major tourist spots.
- Look for gated hotels with long driveways and multiple layers of security.
- Always request a room on an upper floor, if possible. Upper floors are safer from crime, but worse for fire rescue. Emergency rescue is best below the fifth floor.
- Do not open your door to someone who knocks unannounced. Some criminals will pretend to be a bellman, room service, maintenance, or even hotel security to gain admittance to your room.
- A solid door with a good deadbolt lock is best.
- Electronic card access locks help limit access.
- Make sure your door has a peephole and night latch and use it.
- Put the Do-Not-Disturb sign on the doorknob even when you are away, this deters room burglars (it may affect housekeeping service, however).
- Turn on the TV or radio just loud enough to hear through the door.
- Turn on a single light in the room if you plan to return after dark.
- Inspect the room hiding places upon entering and check all locks.
- Parking lot security is often the most overlooked area on a hotel property. Ask the bellman for an escort and use valet parking if alone.
Do you look into security at hotels before staying there? What security features and/or activities are important to you when you travel? We’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments section.
Happy and safe travels.