The hospitality industry is a fragile field since it entails offering services to clients. Poor services of a particular hotel prompts customers to seek services from other hotels. Contrary, word of mouth indicating the high quality of services from a particular hotel result in numerous clients seeking services from it. Thus, the hotel management has the utmost task of ensuring that the company provides efficient, reliable, and fast services to the consumers. Hotel security is a principal factor that guarantees customer satisfaction since it makes the clients feel safe from both physical and intentional harm from internal and external sources. Security comprises of three components including physical security, security of persons, and security of systems. Currently, there is a misperception amongst hotels to improve safety since they assume that the guests have already been scrutinized at airports and other points of entry. This paper evaluates principles of security management and loss prevention in hotels and provides an outlook of security in the next decade.
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Influential Court Cases
In the past year, courts have made verdicts that have revolutionized strategies in the hospitality industry, conveying warning situations on guest privacy activities in a battle between Wyndham Corp and Federal Trade Commission (FTC). Several prominent cases in the beginning of 2014 highlighted the liabilities hotels incur over client data and broken agreements. In April 2014, Wyndham Corp failed to comply with a suit over negligent data security measures which prompted the courts to make a ruling that sent a warning to the entire hospitality industry. The ruling indicated that the management should be cautious in handling guest data. The Wyndham Corporation presented an argument that FTC did not allow the agency to control data security of the firm. Nonetheless, this argument was rejected by Judge Esther Salas.
Crime Prevention through Environmental Design (CPTED)
Hotel CPTED has been acknowledged as a reliable tool for developers in the construction of hospitality facilities. The primary principles of CPTED comprise target hardening and territorial enforcement. On the one hand, the former entails regulating access to neighborhoods, buildings, and engaging surveillance on particular areas to lower the chances of crime occurring (Chan & Lam, 2013). On the other hand, territorial enforcement involves increasing the sense of security in environments where guests are served.
Several CPTED considerations for a hospitality facility encompass the ability to see people on an elevator from the front desk, good lighting on entrances that remove the possibility of hiding, and surveillance at points that are prone to security breaches. Hence, CPTED mainly helps in physical control of lodging facilities. The increased monitoring and openness of the structures surges the chances of hotels to catch criminals (Goslin, 2008). Consequently, it deters people with malicious intentions from engaging in criminal behavior.
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Criminals are more apprehensive about the possibility of getting caught while conducting criminal behavior other than the implications of their actions. Since CPTED increases the risk of being caught, it is an excellent option for enhancing security prevention in lodging and the hospitality industry. There are six primary components of CPTED which include territoriality, access control, activity support, surveillance, maintenance, and target hardening (Jones & Martin, 2008). Monitoring and access control lower the probability of crime whereas territorial reinforcement enhances social control via several measures. Maintenance offers the clients with the assurance and capability to prevent crime on an individual level. Finally, target hardening sums up all the above measures into one single procedure. Natural surveillance lowers the apparent risk of deviant actions by augmenting visibility of likely criminals to the public. It is enforced by planning the placement of physical features, operations and individuals in a manner to exploit visibility of the guests. The supposed increase in risk arises from the lack of covert escape methods.
Biometrics is the evaluation and scrutiny of individual’s physical and behavioral features. This technology is primarily utilized for identification and access control (Kim, Brewer, & Bernhard, 2008). Biometric authentication is effective as people have unique features that cannot be duplicated. In the hotel industry, it helps in identifying legitimate guests and thus ensures that criminals do not get an avenue to conduct a crime. Hence, biometrics assists in preventing crimes before they occur. The hotel industry is expressly at great risk due to the nature of its operations. This is because it mainly serves corporates who are on business or individuals who are on vacation. Therefore, criminals know that hotel guests have money which they can steal.
Due to this perception, the management of hotels has to take measures that will enforce the security of the guests. Biometrics provides a better solution for the safety as compared to the conventional means. There are two major kinds of biometric identifiers that include physiological and behavioral characteristics. Physiological features utilized for biometric authentication comprise fingerprints, face, retina, DNA, and odor (Phillips, 2011). Behavioral characteristics are linked to the behavior of an individual like gait and voice. These features can be utilized to offer continuous authentication other than a one-time authentication.
The use of biometric authentication in the hospitality industry is increasing as it does not involve the guests remembering complex passwords that give them access to various facilities and services. For instance, measuring gait does not necessitate contact with a person. Despite all the steps taken by the hospitality industry to enforce security and loss prevention, the underlying goal is to cause the least disturbance to the consumers (Tarlow, 2014). Numerous security procedures should not entail inconvenience to the clients as this would lower customer satisfaction. Thus, biometrics is an excellent option as it does not require guests to keep inputting their passwords or undergoing lengthy procedures. Furthermore, the management conducts security checks without the knowledge of the clients. Thus, they can identify and eradicate security threats without compromising the reputation of their respective hotels.
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Separation of Duties
This is a management concept that divides authority amongst the staff. It is a major factor in security management since it ensures that a single employee cannot perform a single task by himself/herself. Collaboration is required amongst the personnel to complete duties. Therefore, fraud cases cannot be introduced without being detected (Chan & Lam, 2013). It is mainly applicable to the information system used by the hotels. Criminals can gain access to the finance department and try to swindle money from the account. Nevertheless, the HR department is also required to sanction the transfer of money from the accounts of the organization. Therefore, hackers cannot easily gain access.
However, separation of duties amongst the staff is primarily meant to control the personnel of the hotels from engaging in fraudulent activities themselves. Often, disgruntled employees may want to harm the business by hurting the customers. This is because they have access to the information of the clients (Goslin, 2008). Therefore, they may engage in criminal activities that will compromise the security of the hotel customers. For instance, the majority of the employees have access to the organizations information system. Thus, they may send messages to clients telling them to engage in certain actions that are not sanctioned by the management. For instance, the employees may send messages telling the customers to disclose some private information like credit card numbers and passwords.
Nevertheless, separation of duties ensures that the employees cannot perform the above action. For instance, a worker of the marketing department should not be in a position to view financial information of the clients. This is because the nature of his/her tasks does not require him or her to see this information. In case the financial data is breached, employees in the financial department are held accountable since they have rights to this information. This separation of duties ensures that hotel staff cannot perform important actions without the consent of other employees, and it considerably reduces fraud cases in the industry (Jones & Martin, 2008).
Employee safety is a primary concern for the hospitality industry mainly due to the services provided. For instance, workers may get injuries from activities such as cooking. The management of hospitality industry needs to ensure that the employees are safe from physical harm (Kim, Brewer, & Bernhard, 2008). This is achieved by the design of the hotel facilities. For instance, the cookers should be placed strategically to ensure that hot liquids and foods do not fall on the employees while they are conducting their daily tasks.
Nonetheless, employee safety can only be attained efficiently when the management conducts proper employee training. This procedure entails the workers getting lessons on how they can minimize the chances of accidents and actions they can take in case a disaster occurs (Kim, Brewer, & Bernhard, 2008). For instance, the management should train employees on methods that they should use to combat a fire. In case a fire occurs, the fire response team may take a long time before they arrive to put out the fire. Thus, if the employees do not have any knowledge on methods of combating the fire, the damage from the incidents would be huge. However, if the personnel are cognizant of the simple ways that they can use to lower the impact, the casualties from the fire would be trivial.
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Furthermore, employee training prepares the staff to handle minor and major accidents by conducting first aid on the victims. For instance, if a worker gets a burn wound on the kitchen, other personnel can perform first aid that will ease the pain of the victim. The management of the hotels has the responsibility of providing the materials required by the employees during the training (Phillips, 2011). For example, the management should provide materials containing information on safety measures that staff members can read during their free time. In addition to helping the employees, training makes the personnel know how to handle accidents that happen to clients.
Emergency response is an important concept in the hotel industry as it determines the effectiveness of the methods used by the facilities in continuing operations after a disaster. Catastrophic events in the discussed field cause losses not only to the hotels but also to their guests and other stakeholders like the community (Singh, 2014). Thus, it is imperative to have a plan in place that will reduce the probability of catastrophic events occurring and providing a means that will deal with security management and loss prevention accurately.
PATA proposed a model for emergency management that emphasized on four essential components including readiness, response, reduction and recovery. Reduction is the first component that includes all measures taken to reduce the chances of disasters occurring (Tarlow, 2014). This is achieved by setting up the necessary tools like fire extinguishers in the event of a fire. Reducing the chances of disasters is precisely important since it saves the hotels’ significant resources that are required to recover from the incident. The guests should be scrutinized alongside their luggage to ensure that bombs are not sneaked into the hotels. CCTV surveillance is also a method of reducing the impact of a disaster since it may detect fraudulent actions before they occur (AlBattat, 2014). Readiness entails having the necessary resources and having the expertise required to handle incidents if they occur whereas response and recovery comprise the actions taken after the disasters occur.
The threat on the information systems is apparent due to the advancing technology. Most hotels now allow the guests to book rooms and services via the Internet. Therefore, the latter use online systems to pay for the services which entails giving information on their credit cards. This information may be hacked by malicious people and used to swindle money from the hotel guests. When this happens, other clients will be apprehensive of seeking the services of the affected hotels. An important step in reducing the chances of this action occurring is securing the hotel network using the latest technology (AlBattat, 2014).
Outlook for Security in the Next Decade
Technology will play a considerable part in the security over the next decade. Conventional keys will be replaced by mobile keys that enhance the safety of the guests. Unlike regular keys that may get lost or stolen, mobile keys are unique to individual customers, and they can inform the guest when someone has entered their rooms. Much focus will be placed on securing the information system since it poses the greatest danger to the guests.
The use of biometrics will increase as more behavioral and physiological equipment will be devised to be used in biometric authentication. These systems will cause minimum disturbance to the employees and guests while simultaneously enforcing security and loss prevention. The hotels will seek the services of professional security firms that ensure security and business continuity. For example, the use of cloud computing can be adopted to store data of customers safely instead of storing it in the database of the organization. This is because information stored on the cloud is secured from online threats using solid schemes that cannot be hacked. Moreover, the data can be accessed at any time.
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Security management and loss prevention in the hotel industry is an utmost task for the management. This is because bad reputation can quickly drive an organization out of business since the clients will cease seeking the services of the affected hotels. Security involves three components including physical security, security of persons, and systems. Physical security entails protection from the aspects like theft and fire while security of persons involves matters like critical control and red tag systems. Security of systems include measures taken to protect the data of the hotel guest.
Security threats arise from both internal and external sources. Nevertheless, management can take several measures that can be used to foster security and prevent losses. These measures include CPTED, biometrics, employee safety, separation of duties, and emergency response. They reduce the chances of both internal and external threats. CPTED increases the possibility of criminal getting caught in the act and thus discourages them from engaging in criminal behavior.