A Hotel Security Seal of Approval? (News and Trends)

By Gips, Michael A. | Security Management, January 2003 | Go to article overview

A Hotel Security Seal of Approval? (News and Trends)


Gips, Michael A., Security Management


In some fields, goods or services inspire consumer confidence by obtaining a recognized seal of approval, such as that given by established groups like Underwriters Laboratories and AAA. Would travelers welcome a security seal of approval for hotels--and could any such seal benefit security itself?

At least two companies seeking to establish themselves as purveyors of a safety and security seal of approval have been getting interest from some hotels. But they have also been raising questions about the potential pitfalls of any such imprimatur regime among industry leaders.

One group, SafePlace Corporation of Wilmington, Delaware, has been offering accreditation to U.S. lodging establishments in life safety, fire safety, security, and health since May 2002. It hopes to go worldwide eventually. The other group, Safehotels Alliance AB of Goteborg, Sweden, has its base in Europe, but it too has global business aspirations.

Both SafePlace and Safe-hotels, which launched in October, plan to list accredited properties on their Web sites. Both groups also view their respective accreditations as much as a perk for travelers--like the Mobil Tour Guides for gauging hotels and restaurants--as a security standard with which hotels must comply.

SafePlace's seal is awarded based principally on a facility's compliance with an array of specific code provisions, standards, and recommended practices. According to CEO John C. Fannin III, CPP, the process involves submitting short- and longform applications and satisfying an all-day site review by a SafePlace surveyor.

A few of the many requirements for accreditation include electronic locks and deadbolts on guestroom doors, locks on all operable windows, 24-hour dedicated security staff, the presence of a comprehensive sprinkler system, and specific measures to ensure food safety and air quality.

In Europe, Safehotels Alliance is working with Pinkerton Consulting and Investigations, which has developed its own global hotel security standard that it says covers more than 220 security "checkpoints." Pinkerton auditors look at five broad areas for Safehotels: fire, safety against theft, safety against violence, espionage/secrecy, and executive protection. Hotels are graded in each area and receive an overall grade. Hotels automatically fail if they lack any one of the mandated measures, but they can be accredited once they address that specific issue.

Leaders of the ASIS International Hospitality and Themed Entertainment Council as well as members of the Loss Prevention Committee of the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA) said they don't object to the concept of accreditation, but they worry about the execution. For example, Jimmy Chin, chairman of the ASIS council, notes that SafePlace's CEO lacks credentials in lodging security. …

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