Security: A safe investment to get more customers?

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Security: A safe investment to get more customers?

As a hotel you face big investments to secure the safety of your employees and guests. Wouldn’t it be great if these investments could be turned into additional brand value and sales?

Safety is a key influencer in deciding travel plans, for both leisure and corporate travellers. Global Business Travel Association (GBTA) recently asked European Corporate Travellers about their main concerns when travelling. In this study “Safety & Security” came out as the main concern, for 76% of travellers. You may have seen this trend in the increase of security questions in the RFPs from Corporate Travel Managers.

Even though UAE comes out in top 10 out of 139 countries in the world safety index (www.numbeo.com) future guests are still concerned about the security. On TripAdvisor you will find more than 1.500 forums and questions related specifically to ‘Safety in Dubai’.

Dubai hotels invest heavily in Safety & Security equipment, procedures and education. So what can a hotel do, to ease the minds of safety conscious guests, confirming that their hotel is a good and safe choice?

Major hotel chains incorporate their safety efforts into their brand and communication. For example CarlsonRezidor has a comprehensive internal Safety & Security program embedded into their brand image. Paul Moxness, VP Safety & Security, CarlsonRezidor describes: “CarlsonRezidor has a recognized focus and reputation for safety & security thanks to our reknowned TRICS* formula, and our internal global security operations centre that monitors whether events can impact our operations and the safety. We also have a security self-assessment program that we make universally available to all properties that carry one of our brands regardless of whether their affiliation is through a management or franchise agreement.”

Similarly, Bill Marriott, Chairman of Marriott International, highlights their security programs in his communication: ”The safety and well being of our guests and associates is always our number one concern. For example, every property has an emergency response plan.  While there is some overlap, each hotel’s plan is unique and different. Hotels in hurricane zones will have an emergency response that differs from a hotel in an earthquake zone.” Details are also published in their yearly report, e.g. 2014 sustainability report described: “Every September Marriott recognizes Global Safety & Security Awareness month. We provide resources and activities to help associates remember that we all have a role to play in creating a safe and secure environment at our workplace and in our homes”.

As a tool to help communicate Safety levels to a broad audience, a Swedish company called Safehotels Alliance AB, has established the Global Hotel Security Standard. Hans Kanold, CEO explains “The purpose of the standard is to make it easier to award and recognize hotels investing in, operating and maintaining a level of safety and security, which in turn is recognized by hotel guests, hotel room buyers, the travel management industry, hotel owners and operators. Safehotels has been certifying hotels adhering the standard since 2001. Hotels use it to clearly communicate their strong focus on Safety & Security. We also see a high interests from Corporates in getting their preferred hotels certified, supporting the companies efforts in meeting their Duty of Care obligations and manage the safety of their employees when travelling.”

With the increased focus from Corporates on ‘Duty of Care’ and Employee Travel Safety, hotels with visible Safety efforts are more attractive partners. Paul Moxness, CarlsonRezidor, highlights how they cooperate with external players to verify and continuously improve their Safety & Security effort: “It is important for us to work to improve the safety and security for the hotel industry which is why we partner with organizations like OSAC, where we are founding members of the hotel security working group and companies like Safehotels Alliance so we have external benchmarks and verification that our safety and security programs achieve their objectives.”

For your hotel, are you leveraging your security investments yet? Surely you don’t want to miss your fair share of the growing number of safety conscious travellers?

Julie Olsson Blou works for INHOCO, International Hospitality Consultancy Group. With more than 200 combined years of hospitality experience they cover the complete spectrum of Hospitality needs from brand creation and acquisition to asset management and operational support.