Hotel Online  Special Report


Hotels Stepping Up Security; Learning to Live with
the Threat of Terrorism as Part of Conducting
Everyday Business

It’s your responsibility

By Steve Shellum, Publisher/Editor, HOTEL Asia Pacific
March 2003

Hotels need to urgently – and, in many cases, drastically – step up security arrangements and learn to live with the threat of terrorism as part of conducting everyday business.

With many properties in Asia Pacific carrying the well-known and easily identifiable brands of US and other international brands, they present prime potential targets to terrorists seeking to grab the world’s headlines.

These were the key messages from the recent HOTEL Asia Pacific Security Workshops, held in Bali and Jakarta.

“Hotels, whether or not they are star-rated, must improve safety standards and security systems,” Gen Made Mangku Pastika, chief investigator into the Bali bombings, told the delegates. “Otherwise, they must be ready to face disaster, which can happen anywhere and at any time.”

He said that many hotels in Indonesia had not yet been equipped with adequate security and safety systems to counter terror attacks.

“At least, they have to meet the minimum standards for required safety and security systems. They have to spend extra money on it. Even then, I cannot guarantee there will be no more bombings.

“Employees must be trained to become the first line of defence. In order to prevent further tragedies, we need the full cooperation of the industry.”

Pastika’s warnings, although specifically aimed at hotels in Indonesia, were echoed by other speakers, whose comments had wider geographical relevance.

Chester Doty, group director of security for Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts, said: “We have to reassure both our guests and our staff that they are getting the best security we can provide them.

“Until 9/11, it was common to think, ‘It couldn’t happen here’ – but now we know better.” 

Chester Doty
Group Director of Security
Shangri-La Hotels and Resorts

He pinpointed a number of issues that need to be addressed by the industry, including: 

  • Growing political, ethnic and religious tensions [in Indonesia, Malaysia and the Philippines]; 
  • Ensuring that employees and physical assets are protected for many reasons – including insurance liability and premiums;
  • Evaluating and putting technology in place to address the new security challenges.
“There is no such thing as enough training and, no matter how much technology a hotel installs, it is only as effective as the people,” said Doty.

“Before 9/11, security was the unwanted stepchild of the hotel industry, because it did not make money. Now, all that has changed and security is right in the spotlight.
“We must do all we can do because we are responsible for countless lives. We have to be totally proactive – I hate the word ‘reactive’.

“Security has now entered the thinking man’s arena - and we have to think out of the box.”

Craig Foster, regional director of leading security consultancy Hill & Associates, discussed the crucial importance of crisis management, which he defined as “an event, or set of circumstances, that threatens the integrity, reputation or survival of an individual or organisation” or as a ”decisive moment, time of great danger or great difficulty”.

“A crisis can put at risk a hotel’s two most important tangibles: its corporate reputation and its brand image. 

“There is little that can be done to affect the threat, so actions must concentrate on reducing the vulnerability.”

All hotels should develop policies, procedures, plans, teams and facilities to “mitigate the risks or minimise the consequences”. 

“It is crucial to identify preparatory steps before a crisis, strike a balance between too much and too little detail, coordinate input from different agencies and departments, and make critical decisions in advance.”

He gave a checklist for hotels, which included:

  • Checking information sources;
  • Increasing security awareness;
  • Conducting physical security surveys;
  • Enhancing contingency planning;
  • Step up training and exercises; and
  • Engaging with local authorities.
“For the hotel industry, security can add value,” said Foster. 

Timothy Dumas, regional security officer attached to the US Embassy in Jakarta, said: “Terrorism is no longer simply a government concern. Gone are days when only government establishments were targets – today, everything from hotels to nightclubs to schools is a potential target.

“Cooperation among intelligence agencies around the world has expanded to unprecedented levels. Planned attacks have been prevented and lives have been saved, but incidents such as the Bali and Kenya bombings show us more work still needs to be done.

“Hotels offer excellent potential targets for a variety of reasons. They must remain open, there are many people moving around and there are many entrances and exits. It is very difficult to prevent an attack if someone is determined.”

James Filgo, Asia Pacific director of Consolidated Services International, gave a number of pointers on training staff as the first line of defence.

“Security is the main concern of guests these days, and quality hotels are expected to have in place high standards, policies and procedures.

“Impressions count, and hotel staff either give a sense of security or insecurity.”
Filgo said that hotels were liable for staff inaction or errors, and that security was “too all-persuasive to limit to security personnel alone”.

“Security training is essential for all staff, and requires a top-down approach in which every function is subordinate to guest protection.”

Filgo urged all hotels to establish a Protection Management Committee (PMC) responsible for:

  • Conducting a security/diagnostic survey, involving both the GM and the security manager;
  • Completing a threat assessment report;
  • Reviewing each threat compared to each asset;
  • Collectively determining completeness of the security survey and threat assessment;
  • Allocate responsibilities for each counter-measure selected.
Action plan counter-measures should include:
  • Pre-employment screening;
  • Staff-wide training;
  • Access control;
  • Key control;
  • Security officers;
  • Guestroom protection and
  • Emergency response.
The workshops were organised by HOTEL Asia Pacific in collaboration with Bali Discovery Tours, and sponsored by Starwood, Six Continents, Shangri-La and Hyatt.

© Copyright HOTEL Asia Pacific


Subscription Information
Hotel Asia Pacific
Steve Shellum
158 Wong Uk Tsuen
Yuen Long
New Territories
Hong Kong
Tel: +852 2882-7352
Fax: +852 2882-2461
[email protected]

Also See 50% of Hoteliers Have Not Increased Investment in Security – More than a Year After the September 11 Attacks / HOTEL Asia Pacific Survey / December 2002
Security: Something No Hotel Can Ignore / Geoff Griswold / Summer 2002
Biometrics Lend a Hand to Hotel Security / Feb 2002
Hotels Near Airports Provide Better Safety and Security Features According to The Center for Hospitality Research - Cornell Hotel School / Dec 2002

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