Security and hotels

That hotels implicitly and explicitly offer security to its guests is taken to be a given by both most people. That they are meant to be “open” to the public and, therefore, susceptible to a host of security breaches on a daily basis is less known. It is quite unsurprising when two such instances hit the press in one day, one in Orlando where a senior official of the Department of Transportation found her laptop to be missing and the other in Omaha, Neb where a comic claimed a woman had broken into his room. Neither instance mentions the name of the establishment but given the identity of the guests both likely were well established hotels. Both end up being “he said, she said” cases that are unlikely to be resolved satisfactorily. In the former, the DOT official allegedly left the laptop (filled with sensitive information – one has to wonder what she was thinking given the spate of incidents where laptops with privileged information were stolen) in a “locked” conference room only to find the door unlocked and the computer gone on her return. The hotel employee supposedly found the room empty. Assuming the laptop was not left for any extended period, it would be well nigh impossible for a hotel to spirit away something as large as a laptop without attracting attention among co-workers and supervisors. More likely, if indeed it was stolen, it was a fellow attendee or professional hotel thief who did it.

Typically, most hotels do not monitor, either via video cameras or through the presence of security personnel the conference room areas. Cameras are found aplenty in other public areas including stairwells and the perimeter of buildings but oddly most properties don’t see it fit to install equipment in the vicinity of entrance areas and corridors of meeting rooms. Ditto for most room corridors. Were that the case, both instances of alleged infractions would have been solved pretty quickly. If hotels do not want overtly visible (although there is an argument for them), the advent of near microscopic video cameras makes it fairly easy to install equipment that does not affect the aesthetics. All hotels ought to consider surveillance of all public areas including corridors as necessary.

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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.

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