Hotel Online Special Report

Hotel Common Sense

“A Bakers Dozen” of Strategies for Hoteliers:
Safety and Security
(Part two of two)


by  Dr. John Hogan, CHA MHS CHE, November 2006

This series of hospitality industry strategies has continued to receive strong interest from readers.  A number of people have requested that certain topics be discussed in this forum.   

I am very appreciative to have received input from one of the industry’s most recognized authorities on risk management, Professor Ray Ellis, Jr. , Professor at the Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management at the University of Houston.    

Ray, a proud octogenarian, also serves as the Director of the Loss Prevention Management Institute and the primary author of the LOSS PREVENTION MANAGEMENT BULLETIN.
The numbers 9-1-1 have evolved from the emergency response system to one that evokes a wide range of emotions, especially for citizens of the USA.  Nine – Eleven means today a vivid reminder of what can unexpectedly happen to us.   

Why the term BAKERS DOZEN? 

The term "bakers dozen" arose when bakers started giving away an extra loaf with every dozen purchased to make sure the total weight of bread sold complied with the strict Weights and Measures Regulations which came into force at the time. Since then, the number thirteen has been referred to as "a baker's dozen". 

“A Bakers Dozen” of Strategies for Hoteliers: Safety and Security
(Part two of two)


1. Awareness of security costs within the community.  Costs associated with insurance or legal fees are obvious. Today’s travelers and consumers are progressively more aware, lawyers are more litigious and the media is increasingly willing to expose any potential safety or security weakness. We should also remember the hidden costs of lost productivity, of overtime to cover absence of an injured employee, inefficiencies in service, the loss of guests to other hotels requiring expensive marketing to regain lost market share. This list can be very extensive.

2. Defining reasonable care.   The term can be defined as whatever a court and jury decides to be a matter of fact.  These two simple words have come such a long way in the hotel industry during the last 20 years—thanks substantially to columnist for Hotel & Motel Management Anthony Marshall, who has served the industry well as a former Dean of the Florida International University Hospitality program, as the President and CEO of the American Hotel & Lodging Association Educational Institute and as an industry speaker and author. Today, he continues to serve the industry as a full professor at the Rosen College of Hospitality Management at the University of Central Florida in Orlando.  In the more than 25 years that Marshall practiced hospitality law, he also  made the term "reasonable care" a staple phrase in the lodging industry.  As stated in part one of this series, an effective and involved safety committee representing staff, supervision and management can make a real difference in anticipating and preventing potentially dangerous situations, and can also help in the event of a lawsuit if you can demonstrate reasonable care.

3. Hiring Practices.  There is little doubt that many hotels today face staffing shortages.   There are many qualified people who could be excellent fits within our industry who are actively seeking positions.  What the industry success stories tell us is that effective recruiting includes looking at a diverse range of potential sources and conducting screening as appropriate to the position within proper guidelines.   The need to “know your staff” is critical, including use of photo IDs and other means of knowing who is on property.

4. Litigation costs.   In one of Dr. Tony Marshall’s columns for Hotel & Motel Management Magazine , he identified why hoteliers have made "reasonable care" part of their vocabulary: "Failure to exercise reasonable care often results in a costly negligence verdict or settlement”. Topics Marshall has addressed in range from a guest getting an appendage stuck in a pool pipe to electrical cords next to a bathroom sink to chastising hoteliers for overcharging for coffee and other items.  Other topics have included: 

  • Dealing with drain covers in pools--even in wading pools.
  • Being responsible for alcohol service
  • Marking glass so guests don't run into it.
  • Properly lighting corridors.
  • Checking occupied guestrooms not cleaned by housekeeping personnel in a   24-hour period--for the guests' safety.
  • Ignoring, or not knowing bed bugs are present.
  • Catering to an aging population.
  • Inspecting balcony rails. 
  • Recognizing the short term “value” of budget cuts that could place guests and employees at risk, especially when measured against potential security claims and lawsuits that cost millions.
5. Awareness and sensitivity to vulnerabilities of traveling public. Provide extra sensitivity to the potential danger spots of stolen laptops, stolen luggage, pick-pockets, and prostitution. etc. .  Always strive to maintain a property that will present minimal hazards to the public and guests.  Remember the implied threat from identity theft.

6. Security crisis management plan.  As in the establishment and practice of Preventive Maintenance, staff and management practices should include an on-going and documented safety inspection protocol throughout the lodging establishment.  A property level risk management and crisis response program is appropriate for consideration at all hotels Constant awareness by staff to those conditions that might contribute to an accident with immediate mitigation of such circumstances is essential.  

7. The role of insurance - Hotel Insurance includes several kinds of coverage, with the major types being casualty (general liability), commercial property, commercial liability, commercial automotive and mandated insurance, including worker's compensation.   Define safety through control of safe practices and elimination of workplace hazards.   Be certain your coverage is adequate and relevant. Your insurance carrier will assist you in this effort – they want you to providing safe environments.   Being aware of sources, such as those through AH&LA and ASIS.  Bulletins, lodging sections of national groups, lodging loss prevention committee of AH&LA.  Networking with peers; including effective liaison with local police authorities.  There is a DHS (Department of Homeland Security) link with the industry, as well. 

8. Train and implement drills to provide staff (especially security staff) with on-hands experiences.  Ray Ellis’s "pet" is the development of an American Red Cross multi-media First Aid program which will train EVERY employee in first aid and CPR.  With this kind of training , in any incident, there is a person ready to respond.  One does not have to dash around trying to find a person who can give CPR to the guest who just collapsed on the lobby floor.  Train, Train, Train

9. Selection, maintenance and effective utilization of appropriate security systems (equipment i.e. cctv, locks, view ports, dead bolts, etc.)    Keep current. Keeping involved with the Loss Prevention Committee of the AH&LF, the Retail, Services and Logistics Section of the National Safety Council or the Hospitality Branch of the American Society of Safety Engineers is a measurable way of remaining alert.  Other resources include the National Fire Protection Association's Lodging Section and a continuing awareness of and compliance with the Occupational Safety and Health Act mandates (OSHA) is essential.   The importance of not having phony security cameras--and the importance of monitoring the cameras you do have.

10. Certifications: CPP (ASIS - American Society of Industrial Security- Certified Protection Professional). (AHLEF: CLSO-Certified Lodging Security Officer; CLSS-Certified Lodging Security Supervisor; CLSD-Certified Lodging Security Director).     Certify staff.  Certifications in Certified Safety Professional (CSP) are available through the American Society of Safety Engineers (ASSE), as well  and certified American Red Cross First Aid and CPR trainee. 

11. Recognition programs for staff with "beyond the call of duty incidents', as well as for the mundane "day-to-day" operations, well done.   Make Security and Safety  practices visible and important.  Recognition programs for safety excellence by individual, department or property in a hotel organization pay for themselves in terms of dollars and appreciation by guests and staff.

12. Solicit input from all players in the lodging security realm; including management, supervision and line employees.  Ask your teams in every area  for input.  Your staff, supervisors and managers should be encouraged to make suggestions to the Safety Committee or management through a formal suggestion program that ideally includes rewards for great ideas.

13. Tie it all together.   In an article posted on the Cornell Hotel School site titled: CHR Report Executive Summary, The Safety and Security of U.S. Hotels: A Post-September-11 Report,  faculty members Cathy A. Enz and Masako S. Taylor recount a review of the safety and security features of more than 2,100 U.S. hotels. They found an uneven distribution of key security and safety amenities in various hotel types, with differences relating to such factors as hotel size, age, price segment, hotel type and location.   The authors found considerable diversity in safety and security index scores for various types of hotels by property type and size.  

A WORD TO INDEPENDENTS - if your hotel is not part of a brand, your local hotel association will likely know of qualified programs or products 

A general overview column like this is not intended to and does not offer specific counsel or action steps.  The issues are too individualized to handle in a generic fashion, but the need to address them is real and readers are encouraged to take this word of caution seriously. 

Think Tank  

Questions of the day
These questions are offered to stimulate discussion about the way we do business.  There is not necessarily only one “correct” answer – the reason for this section of the column is to promote an awareness of how we might all improve our operations.  Consider using these or similar questions at staff meetings encourage your team to THINK!


“A Bakers Dozen” of Strategies for Hoteliers:  Security and Safety
  (Part Two of two)
  1. How do you hire people” How are references checked? What means of employee identification do you use?  
  2. Do you know how if your insurance coverage is too high, too low or just right?  When was the last time your insurance carrier spent time AT YOUR HOTEL with management to evaluate conditions or to possibly save on the cost of coverage?    
  3. When was the last time you had a fire drill with your staff and listened to their suggestion on how to deal with problems?
  4. How much security and safety training have you completed at your hotel in the last quarter? The last year? 
Feel free to share an idea and contact me at  [email protected] anytime and remember – we all need a regular dose of common sense.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of this publication or of Best Western International.
All rights reserved by John Hogan. 
This column will be included in an upcoming book on hotel management.
John Hogan, Ph.D. CHE CHA MHS is the Director of Education & Cultural Diversity for Best Western International, the world’s largest hotel chain.  Best Western International has more than 4,200 hotels in 80 countries and is one of the worlds most established and recognized hotel brands, founded in 1946 in California.

He serves on several industry boards that deal with education and/or cultural diversity including the Hospitality Industry Diversity Institute, the AH&LA Multicultural Advisory Council, the AAHOA Education and eCommerce Committee and is the Best Western liaison to the NAACP and the Asian American Hotel Owners’ Association with his ongoing involvement in the Certified Hotel Owner program.

His professional experience includes over 35 years in hotel operations, food & beverage, sales & marketing, training, management development and asset management on both a single and multi-property basis.  He is a Certified Hospitality Educator (CHE) , a Certified Hotel Administrator (CHA), a Master Hotel Supplier (MHS), and a past recipient of the American Hotel & Lodging Association’s Pearson Award for Excellence in Lodging Journalism. He holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Massachusetts and his Ph.D. in International Business and an MBA via Distance Learning from UNW.    He has served as President of both city and state hotel associations.

John’s background includes teaching college level courses as an adjunct professor for 20 years, while managing with Sheraton, Hilton, Omni and independents hotels.  Prior to joining Best Western International in spring of 2000, he was the principal in an independent training & consulting group for more than 12 years serving associations, management groups, convention & visitors’ bureaus, academic institutions and as an expert witness.  He has conducted an estimated 3,000 workshops and seminars in his career to date.

He has published more than 300 articles & columns on the hotel industry and is co-author (with Howard Feiertag, CHA CMP) of LESSONS FROM THE FIELD – A COMMON SENSE APPROACH TO EFFECTIVE HOTEL SALES, which is available from HSMAI ,, and other industry sources. 
He resides in Phoenix, Arizona and is working on his 2nd book – The Top 100 People of All Time Who Most Dramatically Affected the Hotel Industry.

Additional Contact information:  Ray Ellis, Jr. Director of the Loss Prevention Management Institute  [email protected]

The LOSS PREVENTION MANAGEMENT BULLETIN is prepared as a service of the AH&LA by the Loss Prevention Management Institute, Conrad N. Hilton College, University of Houston, Funded by gifts from the American Hotel and Lodging Education Foundation.  It has been re-formatted and a search engine has been added. It is possible to search by subject area and the article will appear with date and attribution in the event a reader wishes to “lift” an article and use it for a bulletin, magazine or other safety or security communication. The materials in the BULLETIN and in the re-formatted articles are not under copyright so the reader may have ready use of the data.


Dr. John J. Hogan, CHA MHS CHE 
Director, Education & Cultural Diversity 
Best Western International -
6201 N. 24th Parkway, Phoenix, AZ 85016-2023 
Phone 602-957-5810; 
fax 602-957-5815
[email protected]m

"...we all need a regular dose of common sense "
Also See: A Bakers Dozen of Strategies for Hoteliers: Safety and Security / John Hogan / Hotel Common Sense / September 2006
A Bakers Dozen of Strategies for Hotel Front Office Managers / Hotel Common Sense / John Hogan / August 2006
“A Bakers Dozen” of Strategies for Hotel Front Office Managers / Hotel Common Sense / John Hogan / July 2006
“A Bakers Dozen” of Strategies for Hotel Sales & Marketing Professionals / Hotel Common Sense / John Hogan / June 2006
"A Bakers Dozen” of Strategies for Hotel General Managers / Hotel Common Sense / John Hogan / May 2006
“A Bakers Dozen” of Ideas for Hotel Management Company Executives / Hotel Common Sense / John Hogan / April 2006


To search Hotel Online data base of News and Trends Go to Hotel.Online Search

Home | Welcome! | Hospitality News | Classifieds | Catalogs & Pricing | Viewpoint Forum | Ideas/Trends
Please contact Hotel.Online with your comments and suggestions.