In this episode, I talk to former police officer and current director of hotel security, Terry, about ways to keep you and your things safe while traveling. We also hear some insight into the security mindset and share a few stories. Below I’ve listed some of the general tips Terry shared. For more, be sure to listen to the full episode.
On sticky-fingered housekeepers:
It’s actually a very low percentage of time in which a guest’s personal items are stolen by a housekeeper. That being said, I want to get to the bottom of what happened and who was involved. If it was the housekeeper, it’s in my best interest to not only get her/him removed from the staff, but be prosecuted like anyone else. It sends a clear message that we are not going to tolerate theft in our hotel.
A good percentage of the time, it’s actually that the guest misplaced the item. Often times they simply put it in a new place, like a drawer or different compartment in their luggage. We will usually ask for permission to search the room and sometimes just a set of fresh eyes that helps find the missing item.
Really though, it’s in my best interest as hotel security to find the truth. If the truth leads to a staff member, I need to figure out who that was. And hopefully we can fully resolve it and in the unfortunate case that it was an employee, that’s obviously someone we don’t want working at our hotel.
Use the safe:
When it comes to important, personal items, you absolutely need to use the in room safe. In all my years of working in hotel security, I’ve never seen anyone actually break into an in-room safe. If something goes missing and we can’t find it, if we have to make a claim for it at the hotel, the insurance company will ask if it was in the safe. And, if the answer is ‘no’, the hotel is not responsible for that item(s). So, just use the safe if they have it.
Know your surroundings:
If you’re in a new city, trust the hotel employees to steer you in the right direction. There are little pockets and neighborhoods in every city that should be avoided by tourists for various reasons. Any hotel in a big city has neighborhoods that change after dark. Always ask for the best way to get around to avoid any trouble.
We work for all parties involved, not just the hotel:
Yes, we are employed by the hotel, but our job is to find the absolute truth if we can. We actually work closely with hotel housekeeping because of this. They’re sort of the forgotten folks of hospitality. They’re usually the biggest department. But, for me, it’s important for me to be close to them because they can see things I simply can’t. They’re in virtually every room every day. They can see damage or potentially suspicious things. We are basically the police department of the hotel, trying to keep an eye on every person on the property.
On getting kicked out:
For the record, it’s very difficult to get kicked out of a hotel. Obviously, anything illegal will earn you the right to get kicked out. For those, we simply call the local police and they’ll come and we assist them with the process. A big one for us is noise complaints. A hotel is designed for 2 to 4 people typically, save for suites. When you’re throwing a big party with 10+ people, we’ll typically give you a warning and that if we have to come back, we’ll have to remove you. The problem is that you’re not just causing a noise disruption, but we potentially have to compensate the guests around your room for the trouble caused. That costs us money, so if we have to give away three room nights because a guest decided to throw a party, that’s a problem.
Some people are surprised by this, but you are liable for that room no matter who is in that room during the reservation. If you have friends staying there and they damage something, if your name is on that room, it’s your responsibility. Also, if you do happen to get kicked out you don’t get a refund. We just ask people be reasonable, as we obviously want people to have a good time.
Thanks for reading and listening. There’s plenty more in the full episode. These are helpful things to keep in mind when you travel to Vegas or elsewhere. If you have any questions for Terry, feel free to leave them below and I’ll get them to Terry!
photo credit: Pedro Szekely