The hospitality industry needs to continuously update security procedures in hotels as new threats arise each year. The past decade has seen a rise in identity theft and attacks on hotels in popular tourists spots. Despite these new threats, changes have been slow to take place in the hospitality industry. There has been some changes over the past decade in hotels, but they are still falling short of a high and operable level of security. The hospitality industry has adjusted to the need for better and updated security with some crucial changes. However, hotel management, overall, has not provided a high-level of security that is needed for the present dangers to security. The type of threats that a hotel could face has changed in the past few years. It is not only a person’s body that is in danger but their identity and personal data. Although, hotel security has changed to accommodate new threats, it still lacks certain security measures that would make them more secure.
One of the greatest threats to the hotel industry and its patrons is cyber crime. In an age before computers and credit cards, this was not a threat. Now with the advancement of computers and an increase in people paying online and with credit, criminals can easily still information about patrons. Credit cards are particularly vulnerable, and the security on the cards cannot keep up. Hotels are prime targets for hackers because they do not always have updated security on their networks. During a study of data breaches by the cyber security company Trustwave in 2009, it was shown how easily it was for hackers to gain access to customer date. Andy Greenberg (2010) writes:
Trustwave tracked cases in which hackers exploited 10-year old software vulnerabilities that had long ago been patched by the software vendors but hadn’t been updated by the companies using the applications–or, in many cases, the contractors that hotels hired to handle their information technology support (para. 10).
Hotels do not commonly update their network security. Additionally, at many hotels they offer free internet access to guests. It is easy for hackers to pose as guests to hack into the hotel’s internet network. The hospitality industry has had to struggle to make changes to combat cyber crime and data losses. In one study, security industry experts have estimated that 78% of all companies and organizations in the United States suffered some data loss or theft within the past two years” (Garfinkle, 2014, para. 1). A large majority of these breaches happened in hotels. Despite these numbers, hotels are taking measures to protect the data of their patrons.
State and federal laws have been passed to require hotels and other organizations that store personal data, to take strong measures to protect data. There are some states that require hotels to destroy personal information of guests after their stay. Additionally some states are required to have a security protocol in place in case of a breach. In ten years, more hotels are being required to have quicker detection systems and addressing problems that are not just hacking related. Hotels management is now at risk for something called social engineering by identity thieves. In social engineering, “executives and managers are key targets, as they often have higher-level computing privileges and access to more confidential information” (Sloan & Juhnke, 2013, para. 8). Hotels have not developed a plan to prevent social engineering. However, training programs now address the issue and make people aware of any signs that social engineering has occurred. To further protect credit card information, hotels are now required to comply with PCI Data Security Standards to secure credit card information. Hotels must program the PCI software reset passwords during various transactions. Hotel management is trying to keep up with cyber crime. The technology is outpacing security measures. However, hotels are taking more precautions to protect the information of their guests. Another area that hotels have had to improve is employing better security measures of guests staying in their hotels.
Hotels are vulnerable targets for terrorists. Over the years, there have been shootings and bombings in hotels around the world. Hotels in Jordan and Kenya are just two examples of violent attacks that have happened at hotels. Hotels have a high volume of people going in and out on a daily basis. Many hotels have areas such as bars and spas that non-guests can access. Not all hotel attacks happen in countries with a high presence of radical groups. Furthermore, these attacks can happen in areas that are not high-risk. Helena Iveson (2009) states:
There were major attacks against 30 hotels in 15 different countries in the eight years preceding 9/11, according to Stratfor, a geopolitical intelligence research company. During the eight years after 9/11, the number of major attacks against hotels has more than doubled—62 attacks have occurred in 20 different countries (para. 3).
People are traveling more and hotels need to be vigilant in protecting people on their grounds. Hotel management is dealing with issues that they did not have to be as concerned about before the September 11th attacks. In the years since the attack, people are more fearful of attacks happening anywhere. With the number of hotel attacks rising, hotel management must make security a priority. Hotels have had to change their security policies from the inside out to handle new security threats.
Hotel management has implemented stricter vetting policies for the staff they hire. Background checks are required for the hiring of any new staff member. Many hotel thefts are done by people working for the hotel. If the potential employee is flagged for having a criminal or is on a watch list, they must be reported. This helps to reduce the chances of an inside attack in the hotel. It is up to management to ensure that everyone hired meets a background check. However, there are still hotels that do not adhere to a background check. To save money and hire cheap labor, background checks can be ignored. This poses a high safety risk that puts guests at risk. Other than background checks, hotels need to train staff to recognize security risks. Security experts recommend that “in-house staff should receive training on profiling arriving guests and visitors that might require a second, closer inspection” (Iveson, 2009, para. 7). Hotel staff, such as front-desk reception and custodians, are being trained to recognize warning signs. If more hotels implement training programs, it could decrease the attacks and make hotels more secure. Security firms are offering more programs to train hotel staff to recognize threats. After all, the front-desk staff is the first person that sees the guests and interacts with them. These training programs teach hotel staff how to deal with a potential attack. Hotels that have completed these types of training programs receive a security rating. It is important to not only keep the hotel staff safe but to train them to keep guests safe as well. Many hotels have problems with securing and supporting staff after an attack.
Security in hotels is not just about surveillance and information security. It is ensuring that the hotel staff is protected before, during, and after attacks. Employees who have been through an attack at a hotel suffer from long-term mental effects. If they are dealing with any lingering issues, it will effect their ability to help with hotel security. Hotels are slowing implementing after-care and counseling programs for their employees. A standard program for security and employee care has yet to be implemented worldwide. Only one country has a standardized security program:
Singapore is the only place in the world to have a standardised system for security at hotels, which it introduced after the recent Jakarta bombings. Under the new Singapore Standard for Hotel Security system, all hotel security personnel must undergo structured training (Iveson, 2009, para. 20).
Although, hotels are employing new security measures, the inability to have a standard security program puts many lives at risk. Employees should learn how to deal with different crises and receive full support from their employers. A standard training program in place in every franchised or non-franchised hotel would save many lives. It would also make the hotel staff more prepared to handle an emergency. Hotels have been trying to improve security over the past decade, but they are still behind in having broader security measures. There have been improvements in basic areas of hotel security.
In most large hotel chains, access is more controlled. Guests are given key cards to access areas like hotel pools and lounges. This restricted access keeps unauthorized individuals from getting into the hotel. Some hotels require a key card to enter the hotel after hours. Additionally during after hours security is placed at certain areas of the hotel to protect guests and handle issues. Public areas are hotels, like lounges and bars, are patrolled by more security personnel. This keeps the most vulnerable areas of the hotel safer for patrons. Technology, such as camera and lighting, also aids in keeping these areas safe. Ralph Heibutzki (2015) states that “active monitoring of the camera images by staff and proper lighting reduces the opportunities for such crimes” (para. 4). Increasing vigilance in these areas has prevented thefts as well as attacks on patrons. There is no area of a hotel that is automatically safe. It takes a combination of well-trained staff and updated technology to secure properly a hotel. Any security measures must be supported and implemented by hotel management.
Hotel management has undergone many changes to keep up with the new security challenges. Hotel managers now work more closely with security forms to ensure guest safety. The managers are encouraged to channel their customer service mindset to include a safe experience for guests. Hotel managers expand their idea of customer service to prioritize safety. Managers must support their staff when they ask for identification and or if they have concerns about guests. With the increase in security concerns, hotel managers are encouraged to maintain and implement security plans. Managers should encourage “proactive security efforts and emergency planning initiatives should also involve everyone with a vested interest in safety and security” (Chartier, 2014, para. 6). Hotel management has had to adjust to the new security threats that can harm guests. Hotel managers are required to undergo more training to deal with the new concerns. The staff along with management must work closer than ever to prevent and manage crises. They must take responsibility for training their staff in the appropriate security procedures for all areas of the hotel. Management must ensure that all staff members follow proper safety protocol. However, there is no standard program for security management training. It can vary by the hotel company and resources available. The lack of standard training could harm hotel security measures in the future.
The hospitality industry and all its workers have faced new challenges over the past decade. Hotel guests are in danger of having their personal data stolen and facing terrorist attacks at hotels worldwide. The events of September 11th and the rise in hackers has changed the way the hospitality industry deals with security issues. Hotels have implemented new measures to deal with cyber crime by adding new security programs to their servers and restricting access to hotel wi-fi. To deal with terrorist attacks, hotel staff and management has participated in training programs to full deal with security crises. Despite the measures already taken by hotel security, there are no standard security protocols in place. This places the guests and hotel staff at risk. Change is slow to occur in the security area of the hospitality industry.
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