When it comes to guests…
Guests bent on stealing linen can bring as much havoc to inventory cost as employees or outsiders who have targeted the hotel as a source for contraband. All rooms should be checked on departure before the guest settles the bill. Checking of mini bar is a very good reason for the same. Housekeeping staff should be security conscious and immediately report about missing items or unusual items left behind by guests to the lobby manager or supervisors.
Housekeeping staff must be trained never to open a door of a guestroom with their keys for anyone claiming to be a guest unless they have personally observed the person to be the guest of the same room.
The new check in procedures in hotels after 26/11 have been a very positive move towards securing the establishment from unknown people, like taking a photo identification proof from the guest prior to check in. The introduction of baggage X-ray machines and metal detectors for guest entrances has become imperative for security issues.
Hotels have a legal responsibility to provide secure premises within which guests may abide. The protection of guests within their rooms must be paramount.
Reasonable security for guestrooms includes the following:
- Latching devices that require a key to open or unlock the door from the outside.
- Double locks that are an integral part of latch bolts set from inside the room; must be capable of being opened from outside the room with an emergency passkey only.
- A peephole installed in the room door whereby the guestroom occupant may see who is on the outside of the door before opening it.
- A door chain that may be set from inside the room and let the guest speak to the caller before opening the room.
- Drapes that fully close and are capable of blacking out the room in bright sunlight.
- Locking latches and chain locks on all sliding glass doors.
- Card entry systems:. The card operates the assigned room door with a combination that has been set just for the new occupant. Housekeeping and other master cards may be set or reset as per the needs.
- Safe deposit boxes with personal code to be kept in rooms to store valuables.
- Rooms with privacy signs or double locked for more than a day should be of concern to the management. Housekeeping should ensure that this information reaches superiors.
Each day, the management or its representative should check a room to ensure that the room has not been vandalised or furniture and fixtures not destroyed and there is no guest in distress in the room. Without specific information, it is considered reasonable to enter the guest’s room between the hours of 8am and 4pm daily to service the room unless otherwise the guest leaves a specific request for late service.
Because property is replaceable but life is not, it is obvious where most concern must rest. The burden is first to prevent any occurrence that may bring about any emergencies. Because housekeeping employees are usually in the vicinity of the guests during daytime, it is important that they are well trained in procedures that create confidence in the guests.
Contrary to common belief, fire does not chase people down and burn them to death. It is almost always the by-products of fire that kill. Smoke and panic will more likely be the causes of death long before a fire arrives, if it ever does. All employees, especially housekeeping staff, should be explained on the effects of smoke and be taught to avoid smoke and panic.
The hotel personnel involved during a bomb threat will probably be the operator, telephone department and hotel management, along with the fire or police department. Whether a hotel should be evacuated is the decision of the on-scene commander, who is usually a member of the local police or fire department. In most cases, selected personnel who thoroughly know the hotel will be part of search teams; the executive housekeeper, chief engineer, resident manager and other such management personnel might become involved with property searches. The hotel facility must always be kept clean and free of debris and unnecessary equipment and supplies. If everything is neatly stored in its proper place, suspicious looking articles are much easier to spot. Housekeeping should be trained to notice strange things and also not to touch them when a property search for a possible explosive device is in progress.
Floods, hurricanes, earthquakes and sometimes freezing temperatures and snowstorms are natural disasters. When such events happen, some hotels tend to get empty, whereas others get filled up, depending on the location and type of the problem. At the event of a natural disaster or extreme weather, provision should be made for employees to stay in the hotel.
Riots and civil disturbances
Civil disturbances may originate in the hotel or may start miles away and drift into the hotel. People in an unruly crowd at a football game may return to their accommodations and continue their unruliness. Housekeeping personnel should be exposed to the possibilities that such events could take place and should be trained in techniques that will calm unruly people. This is another reason for close observation of the temperament and attitude of employees during probationary periods of employment.
Although it is the duty of all hotels to provide a secure area within for guests to have a relaxing, comfortable and safe stay, guests must be prudent and cautious. Hotel personnel should therefore never imply that there is nothing to worry about when staying in the hotel. To the contrary, they should gently and appropriately remind guests to be cautious about leaving doors unlocked and about reasonable rules of security.Sharda Sharma Executive Housekeeper Clarion Collection, New Delhi