How proactive technology can help keep guests, employees safe

Hotels are meant to be places of comfort, relaxation and recreation. However, safety and security are also considered top priorities for travelers when choosing a hotel. Guests expect to feel secure during their stay, and hotel employees want (and deserve) a safe working environment. Safety is especially crucial for hotel management in the wake of a recent report citing an alarming increase in sexual assaults occurring at well-known hotel chains across the country.

Unfortunately, incidents like this are far too common and underreported. Traditional hotel security measures may not be enough for a determined intruder.

When considering security options, hotel management has an additional hurdle that other industry leaders may not face: Unlike in an airport, hospital or even a mall, hotels are expected to serve as sanctuaries, adding to a guest’s carefully planned vacation. Highly visible security measures are therefore less desirable.

Hotels can gain effective—and discrete—security results by implementing proactive safety technologies, such as license plate recognition systems. By creating a virtual perimeter around the hotel property, management can ensure the safety of guests, staff and buildings, while maintaining an air of sophistication and separating the guests from the intrusion of security.

Develop a Perimeter-Security Strategy

Hospitality properties are particularly vulnerable to certain types of theft or criminal activities, such as vehicle theft. The Federal Bureau of Investigations reported that in 2021, more than 21,000 vehicles were burglarized at hotels and motels throughout the United States. Guests anticipate the safety and security of belongings left in their vehicles during their stay, making it crucial for hotel management to integrate proactive measures into their perimeter strategy.

One such measure is the use of license plate recognition systems. These systems use cameras and software to read and recognize license plates of vehicles entering and exiting a hotel property. The implementation of such systems can aid hotels in identifying and tracking vehicles, thereby mitigating the risks of car theft and break-ins.

Some LPR systems have advanced search capabilities that can help hotel management quickly identify any unauthorized vehicles or vehicles belonging to repeat offenders. If a vehicle theft or crime occurs, even without a full plate number, police or security personnel can narrow down footage based on the timeframe, vehicle color, vehicle type, make or other descriptors, such as alterations and damage. This investigative evidence can then be utilized by authorities to take appropriate measures.

Investing in technology not only provides an added layer of protection for guests but also contributes to improved guest experience, increased loyalty, and a positive brand image. Last year, a Colorado Springs hotel resort deployed an advanced license plate recognition system to provide a safe and reassuring environment for guests. Since installing the cameras, the resort has reported almost no issues with car break-ins or property theft—rare for a hotel of this size. The system has also assisted in loss prevention for the business and in protecting employees from hostile individuals.

Ensure the Safety of Hotel Employees

Protecting employees is not only a moral imperative for hotels but also a financially sound decision. Safety concerns can significantly contribute to employee turnover in the hospitality industry, particularly in hotels and resorts.

In 2021, The Bureau of Labor Statistics reported that hotel and motel workers had a nonfatal injury and illness incidence rate higher than the average rate across all industries. These incidents may be caused by guests, other employees or outsiders. High turnover rates result in additional costs for the hotel, including increased recruitment, training, lower morale among remaining employees, and decreased quality of service.

License plate recognition systems help improve staff safety by identifying any potential threats before the harm is inflicted. If a guest reports a suspicious vehicle or known offender on the property, hotel security can quickly review the license plate recognition system footage to identify the vehicle and be proactively flagged in the event it returns to the property. This helps security personnel respond more effectively to any potential threats.

Panic buttons are another technology that may be successfully deployed in hotels to keep staff safe. Panic buttons are small, discreet devices that can be placed in hotel rooms or carried by hotel staff. When activated, these buttons immediately notify hotel security or emergency services of an emergency situation. In addition, some hospitality properties may deploy biometric systems that utilize distinct physical attributes like fingerprints or facial recognition to identify individuals. These systems can be employed to restrict access to specific areas of the hotel and identify potential security risks.

Unlike a one-size-fits-all situation, hotel management should consider a range of technologies to ensure the safety and security of their guests and staff. These technologies are continually evolving and improving, and it is important for hotels to stay up-to-date with the latest security advancements to maintain a safe and secure environment.

Robert Parks is a commercial solutions consultant for Flock Safety.