The mayhem in Mumbai is finally over and our thoughts are with those who lost their loved ones and who sacrificed their lives fighting for the freedom of others. Many sad stories of our fellow hoteliers caught in the crossfire are slowly emerging; a front office receptionist shot and killed while performing her duties, the hotel general manager who is left to mourn the loss of his two children and wife. There has never been a more pressing need for making security a top concern in our daily operations. Hoteliers must do everything in their power to protect guests and be proactive in implementing measures to prevent such incidents from occurring. As witnessed, no destination is immune to such acts! Watch how the events unfolded in Mumbai…
Authorities say the attacks were in the planning for months and the culprits had in depth knowledge of the properties. Some reports also suggest that the culprits had been residing at the Taj Palace and The Oberoi and went unnoticed. They checked in and out, requested the same rooms each time and declined housekeeping services during their stays. Unconfirmed reports suggest that they had stockpiled food and ammunition in the hotel, otherwise how could a handful of them have fended off the Indian army for over sixty hours? Was there an opportunity for a seasoned hotel manager, assistant or a member of the staff to suspect something unusual? Ironically the Taj had recently eased the heavy security that had been implemented due to a threat. It is time to review the integrity of our policies and systems to prevent such acts from reoccurring. Many lessons can be learned fromĀ  this tragedy and the brave actions of those who fought to save other should not go in vain. Some basic procedures we should consider implementing:

  • Surveillance via closed circuit televisions
  • Limit access to hotel
  • Pass baggage through x-ray machines prior to it being brought into the hotel
  • Have bomb sniffing dogs on property
  • Have vehicles checked with explosive detection devices
  • Hotel blue prints should be available to be used by appropriate authorities should the need arise
  • Management must review guest lists on a daily basis and make an effort to know their long term guests
  • Housekeeping staff must be encouraged to provide feedback about their rooms. Any suspicious activity must be investigated including guests that do not request service on an ongoing basis
  • All staff should be required to obtain a police clearance certificate
  • Hotels must have a security department, an emergency response team, effective communication systems and implement drills on an ongoing basis
  • ISO 27001 and 27002 are international best practice information security standards which hotels can use as a benchmark
  • And above all…management should develop a culture where security is on the agenda everyday. Staff must be encouraged to observe and report!