Hotel security

An Associated Press report, largely critical of the Federal Air Marshal service takes a tangential potshot at the Sheraton Ft. Lauderdale Airport Hotel in Florida (which designated the Air Marshal service as “company of the month” owing to the number of rooms it had reserved at the hotel). The hotel management decided to roll out a welcome plaque in their eagerness to please the federal agency that supposedly protects airlines (that there is no known instance of an air-marshal service, anywhere in the world, having ever thwarted a hijack is another matter).

While the Shearaton is not specifically responsible for providing anonymity for the keystone-cop-like behavior of the feds, hotels ought to emphasize anonymity for their guests regardless of their vocation. Despite reams of research on the need to not mention guest names aloud, whether at the front desk or in restaurants, many establishments forget that basic hotel security precept in their zeal to please guests.

Another pervasive hotel practice (that could lead to a security lapse) continues to occur while dispensing key cards during the check-in process. Just about any hotel, regardless of its rating, has long since dispensed with clunky keys and uses electronic locks with key cards. But equally transcending all classes of hotels, is the issuance of key cards in an envelope with the room number either written on it or, in some instances, on a supplementary strip of paper enclosed with the key. The latter is clearly the way to go. While the chances of the wrong person getting hold of a key card to enter a room are slim, there is potential for mischief as guests tend to leave their cards with the room number on it exposed while at a property’s outlets such as restaurants and swimming pools. Once a guest has entered their room for the first time, it is fair to assume most won’t forget their room number. If written on a separate strip of paper that is dispensed with there is no chance of the wrong person, guest or non-guest, knowing another guest’s room number. When it comes to privacy of guests, lodging establishments ought to err on the side of caution and consider every aspect of the guest’s stay.

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Vijay Dandapani

Co-founder and president of a New York based hotel company for 24 years. Grew the firm to five hotels in Manhattan and also developed a greenfield project at MacArthur airport, New York. Speaker at numerous prestigious forums including Economy Hotels World Asia, Lodging Conference, NYU, Columbia University Real Estate Roundtable, Baruch College's Zicklin School and ALIS. President and ceo of New York City Hotel Association since January 2017.