Security has never been more challenging or important
by MICHAEL JACOBSON
As hoteliers, you don’t need me to tell you that the past year has been challenging, to say the very least. As our industry continues to adapt to an ever-changing environment and we navigate the “new normal” together, it can be all-too easy to fall into the trap of becoming absorbed in day-to-day operations and lose sight of the big picture. Many hoteliers are just trying to stay afloat. But it’s critical that you, as owners and operators, take the time to step back and ensure the security of your hotel is comprehensive in every aspect of your property and investment. But what does security really entail? After all, when operating a successful hotel, the word “security” can encompass seemingly countless procedures and practices. Here are several ways to make your business more secure.
SECURING YOUR PROPERTY, COLLEAGUES, AND GUESTS
Of course, the easiest area of security to reflect on is the physical security of your property. As business travel ground to a halt throughout the country, many hotels have experienced a changing customer base that many of us have never hosted as guests before. In some cases, this has led to an increase in damage to hotels and – in worse-case scenarios – even violence.
The long-term security of your property depends a lot on brand management, as well. Unfortunately, some owners have been forced to decide between preserving their reputations and welcoming any revenue that comes in the door. It is more important than ever for hoteliers to learn from each other in terms of safety protocols and enhanced security tactics to prevent issues at their properties. As an example, several hotels in Illinois recently implemented tactics such as including additional security cameras, implementing keycard checks in the main lobby and at elevator banks, having staff walk hallways more regularly, and enhancing partnerships with local law enforcement.
Ultimately, without physical security, there is no travel industry. The safety of our employees and guests must remain the top consideration of every hotelier, regardless of the financial challenges we are currently facing.
SECURING AGAINST GOVERNMENT OVERREACH
I know I’m preaching to the choir when I say the security and future of our industry are many times derailed by the actions taken by various levels of government. Elected leaders at the local, state, and federal levels continue to have the power to affect our industry’s fate in many capacities. What we have witnessed in recent years is the continued government intrusion on – or keen interest in, if you prefer – various facets of our business. At the same time, as hotel owners are in desperate need of support from government officials because of the pandemic, many of those calls for help have fallen on deaf ears. The advocacy efforts across our industry, involving AAHOA, AHLA, state hotel associations, and other partners, are crucial to positioning our industry for recovery during the next few years. But we cannot be successful without the grassroots support of every hotelier nationwide. The more vocal we become, the greater our impact.
SECURING YOUR INVESTMENT
Lastly, the financial security of each hotel owner across the country has been jeopardized as a result of our industry being brought to its knees during the past 14 months. The constantly evolving legal landscape continues to pose challenges for operators who find themselves trying to grapple with these changes while having a limited staff to help them. Failing to keep up on the new regulations from Washington and our state capitols opens potential landmines that could prove costly for hoteliers in the long run. On top of that comes the increases in costs related to insurance, personal protective equipment, new cleaning standards, and other areas of our operations that were already costly, even before the pandemic.
OUR COLLECTIVE ROLE IN ENHANCING SECURITY AND PROSPERITY
These areas of risk all point to the importance of industry associations. Since the beginning of the pandemic, the value of AAHOA and state hotel associations has been increased more than ever been before. As trends shift and the need arises to compile best practices for hotels to enhance their physical security, associations are well-suited to do just that. While it is helpful to have individual hoteliers reach out to lawmakers on key legislative issues, there is the need for a collective voice to speak on behalf of our entire industry, and associations are equipped to unify and amplify your voice. When it comes to monitoring regulatory changes that impact hotels, brokering cost-savings programs to save hoteliers money, or fighting to create grant programs to provide federal and state support for hotel owners, associations are designed for that very purpose.
A former colleague often said that associations are meant to do for their members what they are not able to do for themselves. Working together as one team and one industry will help us collectively rise up and emerge from this devastating period stronger than ever. I hope you will not only remain involved with AAHOA but that you also reach out to your state hotel associations and create stronger bonds with them. This will help advance our agendas and preserve the long-term security and success of our beloved hotel industry.