Last fall’s attacks on hotels in Islamabad, Pakistan, and Mumbai, India, drew a unanimous response from hotel owners and management across the globe: “The safety and security of our guests is our highest priority. We are examining our existing security and crisis preparedness measures to ensure we provide the best possible protection for our customers.”
But against what standards are hotels to measure their existing security and crisis management programs? Do laws, regulations, or guidelines exist to help them determine an appropriate level of security and preparedness?
Many hotels are franchises that may be, on one hand, single-location operations, or on the other, networks of several facilities connected by a common infrastructure. In part because of this decentralization and variety within the hospitality industry, there is not much out there in the way of federal legislation or regulation of hotel security. State innkeeper laws often dictate a certain level of security, and although their requirements may be minimal or non-specific, these laws are a good place to start. Check with your state or local government to determine the requirements for your area.
While legislation and regulation in this area are sparse, there are guidelines that hotels may look to for security recommendations. The American Hotel & Lodging Association provides information on security best practices through its subsidiary, the Educational Institute (http://www.ei-ahla.org/shop/scripts/prodView.asp?idproduct=150) and it also offers a number of resources and links on emergency preparedness guidelines and recommendations.
In addition, ASIS International’s Lodging Security Council (http://www.asisonline.org/councils/LODG.xml), along with its Guidelines Committee, works to establish best practices for this discipline.
The Department of Homeland Security also offers resources to assist in protecting “soft targets,” a category into which hotels easily fall. On the DHS’ sector-specific plans page — http://www.dhs.gov/xprevprot/programs/gc_1179866197607.shtm — lodging security is covered under the Commercial Facilities Sector plans, which can be obtained by following the directions listed on its Web site. And the federal government’s Ready Business program (http://www.ready.gov/business/index.html) also offers tips on emergency preparedness for business owners and managers.
Marleah Blades is senior editor for the Security Executive Council (SEC), where her responsibilities include writing and editing the council’s industry articles, columns, and communications. Prior to joining the SEC she served for six years as managing editor of Security Technology & Design magazine. For more information and inquiries on SEC membership requirements, visit www.securityexecutivecouncil.com/?sourceCode=std.