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Rest Assured Security and Management Practices at Hotels

Rest Assured Security and Management Practices at Hotels

Recent events and terrorist attacks are a solemn reminder to hoteliers and business owners alike of why they should reevaluate and reinforce their security considerations and installations.

According to, roughly US$200 billion have been invested in new first-class and luxury hotels globally since March 2010. Hotels are now constructed with building automation and energy-saving technologies, and around 10 percent of total construction cost is earmarked for security. The assimilation of security into total building management suggests that operations are now more complex than ever, yet require instantaneous responses.

While ensuring guests on vacation or business trips a safe and pleasant stay is one of the top priorities of hotels around the world, a number of technical and nontechnical issues need to be addressed and balanced. In this feature, a&s explores solution requirements for access control and video surveillance, hotel management mentality and concerns across the world, and how security contributes to energy-saving and cost reduction efforts in total hotel and building management.

Security needs of hotels have always been a sensitive topic that operators hesitate to talk about for obvious reasons. However, solution providers and integrators need to find out what hotel managers/operators are really looking for in procurement by understanding and offering what is technologically available based on limited budget and what more can be offered with optimized ROI.

The world hospitality security market has experienced an overall growth following the increasing demand from tourism and business travels, said Rune Venas, VP of Global Business Development, VingCard Elsafe (an Assa Abloy company). Market size continues to increase exponentially as hotels are quickly becoming easy targets for terrorist attacks and petty crimes, due to their “open policy.” Access control, on average, accounts for about 5 percent of total construction cost, with video surveillance following at 4 percent and intrusion detection at 1 percent, according to a 2010-2013 forecast by the British Building Services Research and Information Association.

Take the U.K. The market is quite mature, said Pete Stanton, Product Marketing Manager of ADT Fire & Security. “It means there are legacy systems in place already. However, there is increasing demand for an integrated approach, to bring new technologies into existing systems to address security concerns in hotels.”

In emerging markets like Asia, potential is even greater. “There are at least 70 to 80 new hotel projects we know of that are taking place in Asia,” said Patrick Lim, Director of Sales and Marketing, Ademco Far East. “Additionally, existing and older hotels are also looking to revamp themselves.”

Mark Fancourt, former VP of IT for the Pan Pacific Hotels Group, agreed. “Asia is a growth region for hospitality, with significant investment going into the hospitality space. Regional and international brands are intent on growth — more so than anywhere else in the world.”

Solution Requirements
When weighing technology investment, decisions are usually made with four factors inmind — guest comfort, safety and security, energy efficiency and cost management, said Michael Hartmann, Head of Market Development Board of Siemens One Hospitality, Siemens Building Technologies. “All are critical factors for the success of any hotel today. When hotels look at the technologies available to address one of these megatrends, implications for the other three are also part of the equation.”

The source of capital in hotel builds is often not clearly understood from the vendor's perspective. “For a hotel, more often than not, the owner is not the manager,” Fancourt explained. “Working with owners to secure investment into building these systems is challenging when considering the multiple areas where funding is required. The approach to convergence and IP-based technology is an additional challenge as the benefits are not well understood. It is not unusual to find many new buildings still being constructed using legacy coaxialbased technology, which limits the flexibility, capability and manageability of surveillance solutions.”

Fortunately, more hotels are adopting a holistic view nowadays, thinking in terms of total room automation and building solutions to better address these four key concerns through IP-based systems, Hartmann said. “In this context, a common backbone, which is increasingly IP-based, enables a true system interaction and dialog.”

Access control and video surveillance are two primary systems that hotels rely on for security management. Integration of more disparate systems can be better achieved than before, Stanton said. “The integration of hotel room locks to back-office access control and video surveillance systems is becoming a trend,” Lim added. “Traditionally, video surveillance, backroom card access and guest room systems were all separate. This created some management issues, and staff might have to carry several cards. Integration is now also extended to IP-based public-address and intercom systems, which will broadcast audio announcements and display digital messages on LEDs during an emergency such as fire or during events and promotions. Security communication systems can now be used for other aspects of business operations in addition to security.”

Other solution requirements include megapixel cameras, video analytics, encrypted off-line locks and electronic pad locks. “There is obvious growth in usage of IP-based products, including HD technology,” Stanton said.

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