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What makes hotels vulnerable to security threats?

The large number of people often present in a hotel is one of the major reasons that makes it vulnerable. That the environment in hotels is designed to make it easy for visitors to come and go make things complicated. “Hotels were targeted due to ‘multi-nation people staying’,” said an industry professional working for one of the global solution providers, referring to the recent untoward incidents. He added that hotels and places like open-air markets are becoming targets due to the nature of people visiting them and the ease of attack using methods like a car bomb.

“Security is not yet in the DNA of the hospitality industry. Security measures often come as a complement that is not comprehensively taken into account at renovation or design stage of hotel construction."

-Alexandre Masraff, MD, Onyx International Consulting & Services, Co-founder, InSCeHo

Alexandre Masraff is the MD of Onyx International Consulting & Services and co-founder of InSCeHo, a security certification program for the hotel industry. According to him, the issue of threats to hotels should be seen not just in the context of the above-mentioned regions, but as a global problem. He gave four main reasons for this: 1. Hotels are open to the public. A hotel needs to make it easy for guests, customers to their bar, restaurant, and facilities like spas to come in, to maintain their business. This kind of set-up results in a flow of people that can’t always be checked at the entrance. Unlike in other business locations where visitors can be screened and identified, there are no means to confirm the legitimacy of the customer in a hotel. 2. Often customers come from several different countries. In case of a terrorist attack, media from all of their countries will cover the event. Terrorists try to take advantage of this to increase the impact of the attacks. 3. Hospitality is an industry that suffers from the fact that it is rarely seen a critical industry for the country, unlike verticals like oil & gas, telecom, banking, etc. Having a hotel attacked do not make the local population and the government feel as concerned as if the mobile phone network was down. The impact on local daily life is far less. “Take a look at the tourism industry in Tunisia,” Masraff said. “Since Sousses attack, very little has yet been done by the hospitality industry and by the government to guide the industry to raise security efficiency. 4. The customer experience is the prime concern of hospitality, as well as safety from issues like fire and floods. Hospitality insurance costs are mostly related to these. Any other security violation was limited to rare thefts and harassments. It is in the recent times that concerns like terrorism have become a major issue for hotels. “Security is not yet in the DNA of the hospitality industry,” Masraff continued. “Security measures often come as a complement that is not comprehensively taken into account at renovation or design stage of hotel construction. Most of the hospitality industry cope with security issues because the environment tells them that it has to but the industry has not yet stepped up to the level where a global approach of security issue and its inclusion in the business model is taken into account.”

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