For the past five years I worked in the hospitality business as a security officer. By now I have ceased to be amazed at how people behave about their own personal security. For whatever reason, guests arriving at a hotel seem to think that whatever precautions they usually take at home, do not apply while on vacation or business trip. Nothing can be further from the truth. If anything, you should be even more aware of your surroundings and take extra care of yourself. I would like to share some ideas about being safe at a hotel with you now.
First: You are responsible for your own security! This should be damn obvious by now, but as I said before some people just switch off the basic survival procedures during a vacation. Just so you know. Hotel Security is not there to protect you but to protect the interest of the hotel. That is our mandate.
Sure, we are “trained” to look after you and try to see that nothing happens to you but the undercurrent in that is that Hotels are highly allergic to lawsuits brought by guest. If by some legal or legislative trick hotels were to become immune to lawsuits, the first department to disappear would be Security. We are just a legal excuse so in court the hotel can prove to the jury they took “reasonable measures’ to provide a modicum of safety to the guest.
Now, what can you do to be safe in a Hotel?
- Make sure your door is closed and that all the security devices attached to it are operational. Not a day goes by that during my rounds I find occupied room with doors open, occupants gone and expensive items in plain view. Laptops, Ipods, expensive watches, wallets and purses just ready to be plucked by an enterprising petty thief just because the guest left the room without making certain the door was firmly closed behind them. And do the same before you go to sleep: check the damn door. I have found doors unsecured and female occupants deeply into the arms of morpheus ready to be sodomized or worse due to their carelessness. Use all latches and privacy dohickies that come with the lock and if you are still unsure, get one of those wedge rubber door stoppers which will provide one more layer of resistance in case somebody tries to kick in your door. You’d be surprised how weak a hotel door can be around the lock.
- Use the room safe, it is there for a darn reason. Most hotels only allow Security or a Manager the master codes or equipment to bypass a locked safe and having a small pool of suspects in case of an item missing from a safe makes almost everybody be very honest. And let’s face it folks, we (Hotel personnel) know all the goodie spots where you can “hide” your stuff in a room. And you will forget where you hid your extra cash of expensive jewelry, will not remember until you are back home and will have to call the hotel to retrieve it and send it. That is if you are lucky enough and the room has not been rented to another guest that found your stuff and decided that “finders keepers” apply to your possessions.
- Be smart about room keys. Yes you heard all the Internet tales of magnetic card keys encoded with all your personal information included your DNA and the name of your first sweetheart, but the the real problem is being careless with your card as in losing it or damaging it. If you misplace your card, immediately go to the front desk and demand a new one and make sure you specify you do not want a duplicate. This is very important because a totally new card will eliminate the security encoding of the old one thus preventing anybody who might have found your card and want to use it to gain access to the room. Again, demand a New Card, not a Duplicate. Never write down your room number in your card or have it with anything that may indicate which room or even what floor you are staying in. There is no reason why you should make life easy for critters. And please keep the card away from cell phones and any electronic devices or anything with a magnetic field that will damage the card. The last thing you want to do is being alone in a hallway at the wee hours of the night with an bad key possibly becoming a target of a marauding criminal. Request at least one extra card and have it as back up to avoid unnecessary trips to the Front Desk and have them send a New Key. This will also help you know if the key sent to you is really a new one or a duplicate: once you insert the new key, the old one will not work anymore. If after inserting the new key, the old one still work, call the Front Desk, raise merry hell demand a new one and then call the Corporate Office and let them know of the flagrant breach of security.
Next: Part 2 of How to be Safe In a Hotel