TRAVEL SHOULDN'T INCLUDE TREPIDATION - THESE TEN TIPS WILL HELP YOU MANAGE YOUR SECURITY ON THE ROAD.
You've probably heard the adage "bad things happen to good people." Similarly, bad things happen in good places. Read these tips below to avoid being victimized in hotels. Remember, even if you're at a resort on holiday, the criminal isn't - he's simply at work.
1. Crime map. Look up the crime map that includes the area that your hotel is in. What incidents are commonly reported? A high reporting incidence of theft, robbery and assault may steer you to another choice in hotels.
2. Online virtual visit. Most hotels are proud of their property and post pictures of every its every aspect. Visit their website and look through it. THEN, Google the hotel name and look at the images page. These images are unfiltered by the property owner and will include unseemly things that may exist in, on or around the property taken by previous guests. You should also search the address in Google Earth and look at the properties immediately adjacent to the hotel and grounds. Street View is also useful to determine ground truth about what you're in for.
3. Access control. Choose only hotels that canalize (or direct) guest movements through a single point of entry. There is an assumed level of scrutiny that occurs in the reception area that may deter casual criminals. Avoid staying at "park and enter" hotels/motels (the type that you park in front of your door), unwanted access is too immediate and exit and escape is too easy for thugs.
4. Groundskeeping. Be mindful walking from the parking area to the hotel entrance and on the grounds themselves. Hotels want to promote a luxurious feeling of course and so plants and trees can be plentiful. Unfortunately they also can provide criminal thugs concealment. Security conscious hotels will use lighting and mirrors to provide you plenty of vision into what could be a potentially dangerous space.
5. Cut metal keys. If you're handed a traditional cut metal key? You may want to reconsider your choice. The oldest scam in the book is for someone to request two keys, use room checkout and keep a key. Sure, hotels and motels using this outdated convention SHOULD rekey locks on a regular basis. Do you think they do? There have been plenty of instances where weeks later the key is used for unauthorized access resulting in theft, robbery and rape.
6. Room selection. As a general rule we advise our clients to stay on the second or third floor. This gets you off the ground floor where criminals have immediate access to sliding glass doors and windows (and probably concealment in that luxurious landscaping mentioned above) and keeps you at a survivable height should you have to break your window, hang and drop in the event of a fire. (Hey, don't laugh, when's the last time you've seen a firehouse in a major city in the third or fourth world? And even if you have, real gridlock occurs routinely in cities around the world soooooooo....). Also, don't accept rooms that are at the end of a hallway adjacent to a stairway that leads outside. Smokers have a habit of leaving things in the door to prop it open. Criminals know that and have gained access to restricted space this way. Guests sometimes subvert otherwise good security by doing this for convenience unloading their cars.
You’re under no obligation to accept a room that makes you uncomfortable. Go back to the desk and request another room. Don’t ever let someone else dictate your security for you; only you are responsible for you. If you have any problems? Vote with your feet and leave the hotel to find another.
7. Alternate exits. Before you go to your room (we know, we know, you’re tired…) find the alternate exits and make sure they function. There have been cases (especially in foreign locations) where the doors are chained and locked to prevent unauthorized access. Obviously in the event of a fire you’d have a problem so knowing what your options are before the hallway fills with suffocating black smoke is a smart thing.
8. Check locks. When you get into your room, check the door locks and window locks to ensure they are there and that they function properly. When you do check, look for longitudinal cracks in the door. That could indicate the door has previously been kicked in (an indication of what may go on at this hotel?) and might have been repaired inadequately. Slider locks and window locks are sometimes left unlocked by service people who may have aired the room out and forgotten to lock them, or, in nefarious cases, left intentionally unlocked.
9. Establish security. If you go online and search portable door locks you will find all kinds of inexpensive locking devices that deny access to anyone – even if they have a pass key. Buy a couple different styles so you’ll have one that works no matter what the door configuration is. There’s also online DIY locks you can fashion out of a fork if you’re handy with your hands. Slider locks (good for doors and windows) are inexpensive and available everywhere. Get enough that you can afford to forget them (because you will…but who cares, they’re cheap). You can also purchase inexpensive portable motion sensor alarms (Radio Shack is one source) that you can use in two room setups. Use the portable door lock on the bedroom door and the motion sensor for the exterior room.
10. Never talk yourself into a potentially dangerous situation. YOU’RE NOT OVERREACTING! If a place gives you the creeps? It’s very likely for a good reason.
No one wants to wake up in the middle of the night with someone standing over them. If you follow our tips, that can’t happen. Don’t feel vulnerable and have to sleep with one eye open. Be smart. Be safe.
Kelly McCann and Michelle Ly own Kembativz Brand and deliver impactful corporate training to Fortune 500 companies helping them improve the Duty of Care Standard and keeping their employees safer. Contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org