Hotel security: Watching the lot

Nothing ruins time away from home like safety concerns, which is why it’s the hotel staff’s job to create a secure environment. 

Martin Flaherty, corporate director of maintenance at hotel management firm Coakley & Williams, said the hotel should be on watch for safety concerns the moment a guest sets foot on the property, specifically mentioning the hotel parking lot. Because the lot is separate from the hotel building, there are some basic strategies for keeping the area as secure as possible.

“Keep the landscaping in parking lots trimmed back to reduce hiding areas,” Flaherty said. “Make sure the management team is walking the lot at specific intervals, but the right landscaping strategy can go a long way.” Trees near lamps should also be trimmed to keep them from blocking light, and the pathway from a guest’s car to the hotel should always be fully illuminated.

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According to John Porior, president of WHG Companies, having your parking lot properly lit is also a major consideration. “The more lights in a parking lot the better,” he said. “Break-ins usually happen away from the entrances of the property.”

Porior said that the outside sidewalk areas are a major juncture for injuries if there are changes in elevation or if the sidewalk has sagged into the earth over time. Lighting both above and below, using foot lamps, can also be helpful in mitigating the risk of guests falling on debris or wheel stops in the parking lot. He also recommends a safety checklist for the seasons, particularly in the winter when front-desk staff should keep a shoveling and salting log to stay on top of the elements, though operators should also be aware of fallen tree limbs after storms.

“Always use long-lasting bulbs in your parking lots, and have a number of backup bulbs available at all times,” said Margaret Leon, operations director for Driftwood Hospitality Management. “Note the bulbs that are flickering or have gone out, and make a plan to replace them.”