This article appeared first in the hospitality journal, the Hospitality Biz, June 2019 edition. Reproducing the article here with due credits to the magazine.
Safety is a state of being protected against physical, social, financial, emotional, occupational, psychological or other types of consequences considered non-desirable. Security on the other hand refers to the state of being free from danger or threat from fear, anxiety and doubt involving our guests, employees or the property and its assets. It is the responsibility of the hotel owners, the management team and staff alike. Though hotels focus on latest methods that keep their guests and employees safe, it only takes one mishap to tarnish their reputation. Hence security systems, products and procedures become extremely important; making training crucial in hotel operations, guest engagement and reputation building.
Effective training can ensure safe environment for hotel guests and staff; also keeping assets secure. Safety training program of a hotel should include:
Induction Training Program
The first step to an employee on boarding experience is the induction. Hotel takes due care to create positive first impression in the mind of the new joinee. The employee learns about the organization’s vision, philosophy and work culture along with all vital information. It must cover property tour, fire exit plan, entry – exit plan for guests, hotel staff as well as vendors. Some hotels conduct security and fire drill as a part of the induction itself.
Access Control System
Security systems allow access control for various areas of the hotel. Room key can be used by the in house guest while using the elevator or public areas that may be restricted for outsiders. Hotels are also moving towards using smart phones as mobile keys; it eliminates the use of cards and has higher security as guests carry their phones with them; making it impossible for anyone else to access their rooms.
Guest Information Mechanism
To derive maximum benefit from a hotels security system, it needs to inform the guests about it’s features. A small card containing the written communication can be handed to the guests at the time of check in. This ensures that hotel staff conveys the same information to every guest. For instance if the hotel uses ‘Access Control System’, the guest needs to know that his key card grants him entry to the specific floor or other areas that are exclusively for use of in house guests.
Advanced Surveillance System
These days’ hotels use Closed Circuit Television system with visible or hidden security cameras that cover all areas of the property and its premises. This makes everyone vigilant and leads to a sense of safety among their guests and employees.
Cyber Security System
Hotels have guest data at various Point Of Sales such as the front desk, restaurants or the spa. They use several tools to safeguard it against cyber crimes. Staff specially the ones working in these departments should be updated on safe use of payment gateways or methods. Moreover be aware of frauds or cyber crimes being committed so that they can remain alert.
All staff to be given information on baggage scanners placed at the entrance of the hotel and they should also be told of all reportable matters such as suspicious guest or objects being brought into the hotel premises.
Hotel Equipments, Raw materials and Provisions
Equipments such as boilers, lifts, kitchen equipments, furniture, fixtures, machinery and building must be protected. For this the hotel needs efficient systems for fire safety, earthquake, floods, safe deposit lockers etc. Moreover Robust Material Management System is required for the protection of raw materials, provisions and groceries; in addition to proper storage methods and pest control systems being used.
Training Employees on Safety Procedures
Though there is great focus on guest safety and data security, a hotel can’t overlook the safety and security of its employees, their health and productivity; which affects its bottom line. Each department must use safe work practices and staff should be trained on SOPs. Audits should be conducted from time to time for their effective implementation. Hotel staff must comply with company safety rules which can be as simple as, uniform worn to be comfortable and practical. Foot wear should be well fitting and comfortable. Aisles, ramps, steps, platforms and other passageways must be kept clean and free of obstruction for the smooth operations.
No other employee has as much access to hotel assets and guest property as the housekeeping staff and they are also subjected to more repetitive physical injuries. For instance the mattresses used in modern hotels are quite heavy; lifting them while making beds takes its toll on their health. A room attendant makes around 15 rooms in the morning shift. Repetitive bending while making rooms, pushing trolleys and vacuum cleaners can cause back injuries. All staff needs to be trained on correct techniques and ergonomics; ascertaining that everyone is practicing safety standards.
Additionally providing insurances, health schemes, provident funds and provision of clean drinking water, sanitized wash rooms, locker room facilities etc. are also an integral part of employee safety and security.
Refresher Training Programs
Conducting safety training just once is not sufficient; a calendar should be maintained for follow up and refresher training programs. Training sessions and mock drills should be conducted to certify staff when they attend safety orientation programs; without which they should not be allowed to enter certain areas of the property. For fire safety training, employees are made to participate in drills at regular intervals. Food safety is another aspect that cannot be neglected; hygiene officers train kitchen and F & B staff on hazards as well as steps to be taken to achieve food safety.