In the last year, the notion that soft target venues pose a real security concern is unequivocal. Outlining the concerns is easy, resolving the issues is quite another matter. In the hospitality industry, we only have to look at events over the last decade to know that greater focus and attention is overdue. How do we do this? By looking at approaches that can balance the need for security against maintaining guest experience, weighing the cost of implementing new technologies, and assessing risk.
Non-intrusive security procedures
Intrusive security, similar to TSA, are antithetical to the hospitality industry. Implementing such procedures not only lengthen lines but increase the stress and discomfort of visitors. Positive guest experience requires less intrusive security procedures and systems, which are available today and not difficult to implement. New experience-maintaining technologies exist, including software to proactively identify potential threats—whether they are crowds, individuals, or items left unattended, and kiosks providing digital check-in services that require a scan of a government issued ID for an additional layer of authentication.
Further, there are passive detection capabilities that will identify all manner of concealed weapons, plastics, powders, ceramics and other contraband as well, without interfering with the guest experience. These can be positioned at entryways, front desk areas or where controlled access to hotel room elevators might be located.
Security technology that could be easily implemented
While not new, there are also several effective technologies that provide on-premise staff additional protection and security through wearable panic buttons. These technologies not only allow immediate calls to security with the simple push of a button but provide a precise location for the staff member who may be in a threatening situation—often within a meter or two.
Operational cost benefits to adding new safety technology
Given that technology exists to provide better passive security without destroying the guest experience, the next issue to tackle is how to afford the cost of implementing these technologies. The answer to this question will no doubt be different from venue to venue based on a variety of different factors—location, visitor demographics, and more. What if we evaluated these technologies and the benefits they may proffer for enhanced security and safety for customers, coupled with the downstream benefits that can come from these technologies?
So, what are these downstream benefits? Let’s say a venue or property implements a number of security surveillance cameras throughout public spaces—lobbies, elevators, hallways, casino floors, etc. The same technology that allows security to identify or follow a threat allows the same tracking of guest, casino player or concert-goer behavior. This tracking offers a side benefit of valuable behavior patterns that can improve every guest’s experience. What if the technology not only enabled staff member protection, but allowed a venue or property to remove unsightly, in-room dining trays more quickly from hallways or provide a guest refrigerator, rollaway bed or other amenity quicker? These scenarios would not only provide better guest experience but allow properties a greater share of wallet. The benefit is no longer limited to security but can also offer improved cost efficiency and increased revenue—three major benefits that would be worth the investment.
Real solutions to reduce risk
These scenarios are not just future capabilities, but real opportunities that exist today. However, the solutions can only be implemented with a strategic and tactical plan involving all stakeholders. With proper implementation, security and safety may not be as antithetical to the hospitality industry as it appears at first blush.
Although we may not be able to mitigate risk to zero, with the right technology and proper implementation, we have opportunities to reduce risk and increase efficiency and revenue through technology.
Peg McGregor is CEO for Technovation Solutions.