One of my oldest friends is a retired police detective and the director of security for one of the many posh hotels located in downtown Nashville.
The hotel is located less than a block from my office, giving me the opportunity to spend a couple of lunch hours weekly with my friend. Of course, the main topic of our conversations revolves around security and the challenges that the hotel industry faces on a daily basis.
Safeguarding retail, entertainment and dining centers presents an interesting challenge for hotel security. How does a security team secure a location that focuses on hospitality and the free movement of both guests and visitors? Well, the security teams can’t do this on their own, and most hotels understand this. Here’s a quick overview of a basic security strategy that can be used for hotels, shopping malls and other entertainment venues.
This is nothing more than understanding your environment and knowing how guests and legitimate users of the space will behave and interact with others. I had the privilege of studying security in Israel in 2011. Understanding behavior and identifying anomalies is a large part of how the Israelis secure their people, airports, malls, hotels and other spaces. To successfully implement this strategy security teams, desk associates, housekeeping, maintenance personnel, the hostess, and bell captains should receive a basic level of training in behavior recognition.
This sounds contrary to the hospitality industry’s mission, but it’s not. When you arrive at most luxury hotels, there’s a parking attendant or bell captain waiting to greet you. As you move toward the lobby there’s usually someone present to open the door or greet you as you enter the space. And of course, there’s always someone at the front desk waiting to check you in and take your credit card. It’s a layered approach to hospitality that implements selective restriction to the space. Imagine if everyone involved in the process understood what their environment should look like, and what they should do if they identify something out of place.
Observation of the Protected Space
Security teams at most luxury hotels do this on a daily basis. What’s usually missing is an understanding of what the team is looking for. Adversaries (i.e., terrorists, criminals, predators, etc.) will systematically follow some type of cycle that involves research of the space and planning of their task. Identifying the behavior associated with research and planning is key for the hotel security team’s mission.
The goal of the hotel security team is to identify potential suspicious activity early. Understanding what suspicious activity looks like and having the ability to validate or refute the activity is a function of response. Security interviews can provide early intervention and the appearance of a friendly and open environment if done correctly. The security interview (or early intervention) can also reduce the risk of having to physically intervene and use force. It’s a win- win situation.
Michael Mann Security Services specializes in training security teams and facility staff in identify suspicious activity, how to report unusual events, how to conduct security interviews, and how to improve site security response capabilities.
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