More than one billion travelers stay at US hotels every year. While most enjoy pleasant vacations and business trips, some fall victim to theft, burglary and even assault, crimes that several hotel security veterans say may rise during a recession as hotels cut employee hours and possibly security staff.
Jack Feingold, a VP with ADT Security Services, urged vacationers to pay careful attention to their safety and security to avoid becoming a victim of criminals or injured in an emergency.
"When traveling, people tend to be more attractive to thieves looking for easy targets and hotel security is usually the last thing on travelers' minds as they check in to a hotel. But security and safety should be a concern for anyone staying in a hotel this summer," Feingold said.
To reduce the risk of crime or injury during a hotel stay, travelers should follow these safety tips:
- Avoid rooms with ground- or second-level windows. When possible, choose a room between the third and sixth floors. Rooms on these floors are high enough to discourage access from the street, yet are within reach of most fire-department ladders.
- Remember to always close and lock your door. Make it a habit to use all locks, including the deadbolt and chain. If you choose to stay in a room that faces pools or beach areas, make sure your sliding doors and windows have sturdy locks.
- Do not open your door to anyone who knocks unexpectedly. If someone unexpectedly knocks claiming to be a hotel staff member, call the front desk to confirm his or her status before opening the door. And teach children to never open the door without your permission.
- Park in well-lit areas and as close to the hotel as possible. Many hotel thefts take place in parking lots and structures, so finding a well-lit area to park your car is essential. Women traveling alone should ask for an escort to their cars at night. If possible, use valet parking services. Valet service allows you to leave and pickup your car at the main entry, while also providing an added layer of security for yourvehicle.
- Take note of the hotel's emergency evacuation plan. As soon as you enter your room, take time to look at the hotel's emergency escape plan and make a mental note of the nearest emergency exit and how to get there.
- Choose a hotel with security cameras. Video surveillance cameras can provide an added layer of security to help prevent theft and discourage criminals. Hotel cameras should be placed in stairwells, pathways, exercise rooms, parking lots and any other public areas. Cameras not only help hotel staff track the safety of their visitors, they are also helpful in identifying criminals if a crime does occur.
Feingold said, "The most important thing to keep in mind when on vacation is safety, for you and your family. Taking a few minutes to think about hotel security is not only crucial to a fun, relaxing vacation; it is one of the best safety choices travelers can make."