{468x60.media}
Mr. Zajic

Security & Safety

Securing Hotel Parking Lots

By Alan Zajic, Independent Security Consultant, AWZ Consulting

Co-authored by Derk J. Boss, CPP, CSP, CFE

As with any business in the world today parking areas are a necessary and vital component that has a tendency to be underestimated as it relates to guest or employee protection. Every hotelier is aware that parking lots generate a large expense in maintenance, lighting, cleaning and the associated landscaping and accesses. Everything has a direct cost and security is no exception.

The hotel ownership and executive management must balance those costs against revenues and realistically apply reasonable security measures into the overall business plan. Questions are always pondered and evaluated as to the cost and necessity of traditional security measures to include if "boots on the ground" are needed or required in a hotel or transient rental environment. There is not a simple yes or no answer to the question absent a professional analysis.

If an economy hotel with a low ADR as compared to the area competition does not provide security officers is that acceptable? Many operators feel that if they are not providing security services and have a lower rate as a result that it insulates them from liability which is incorrect. Every state has various statutory and common law provisions regarding the duty that a hotel has to provide reasonable security measures to provide some form of protection to people from foreseeable harm. Your attorney is best qualified to assist you in understanding what is required.

Conducting the Risk Assessment

The professional and accepted manner to assess what security measures should be deployed in a hospitality environment is to conduct a Risk Assessment. If the facility has a qualified security manager or director who knows how to conduct one it can use that person as the ranking security official. Many corporate security departments already have personnel who address risk and manage overall security policy. For those operations who do not have the benefit of a corporate security or risk department the task may involve retaining a qualified security consultant to conduct one for you. You can be assured that if you are sued for an incident in a parking lot one of the legal questions propounded to you will be did you complete one or hire an outside security consultant.

The Risk Assessment takes qualitative or quantitative information and identifies risks associated to the facility and ranks them by priority as to the likelihood of a negative event occurring on the property. The process then seeks to determine the likelihood that criminals will successfully exploit a particular vulnerability or compromise a security measure.

As it relates to any environment including parking lots and garages there are what are referred to as actual, inherent and potential risks that should be evaluated which is commonly referred to as the threat assessment. The vulnerability assessment is the process where an analysis is completed of the weaknesses and opportunities for criminal activity. Both of these are incorporated into the Risk Assessment process.

Once you understand what the threats and vulnerabilities are for your hotel you can design appropriate countermeasures that will take into consideration the costs involved, the practicality of the countermeasure and the reasonableness of the protective measure. There are many guidelines that address the Risk Assessment process. One that is readily available is from ASIS International which is the largest security organization in the world with approximately 37,000 members. The General Security Risk Assessment Guideline clearly identifies the process and process of conducting one. (www.asisonline.org)

An interesting series of studies by Liability Consultants Inc. found that parking areas had the highest potential for litigation based on crimes that had occurred there. (2004 Liability Consultants, Inc. Major Developments in Premises Security Liability III) Assault and battery, sexual assault and robberies occurred in high numbers in parking areas. The study also identified lack of presence and policy and procedures as the top deficiencies raised in inadequate security cases against hotels. (www.liabilityconsultants.com)

The Risk Assessment does not need to be complex or cumbersome and can demonstrate that certain deployments of security measures are not required.

Security Officers

Once the Risk Assessment is completed the next step should be to determine what measures are being taken by competitor or similar properties in your locale, regionally and nationally. A proprietor should be aware of what security measures are being utilized in their locale by making infrequent observations of other hotel properties

The deployment of security officers is expensive and requires management and oversight of their activities. Once you determine the need to actually put officers on your facility, the parking areas are critical to be regularly and constantly patrolled by them when they are on duty. The number of hours and specific times should come from the Risk Assessment.

A small to midsized hotel does not have to necessarily directly hire officers to perform security tasks. Managers, maintenance employees and housekeepers should all have training to observe and report anything unusual or suspicious when they are in the parking areas. A management or maintenance employee can be directed to patrol the parking lots at least once per hour and a log of who completed the patrol and what observations were made will prove extremely valuable in the event a claim and subsequent lawsuit is filed.

There are options if a hotel is going to deploy security officers to patrol or be stationed in parking areas. The use of contract security companies is common and cost effective if managed appropriately and detailed post orders (the specific instructions) are completed and agreed upon when the contract for services is entered. Proprietary security officers or employees identified as security can be used and must be carefully considered due to the cost of equipment, uniforms, radios and training. You cannot just put a uniform on an employee and call them security if you do not give them appropriate training for the task they are assigned.

All employees should have some form of security training and responsibility. The training should be well documented and enforced by management to be effective and to prove the process in a court of law if required.

Lighting

Understanding the types of lighting, projection, illumination and what is required can be very confusing to a hotel management team. The first thing that should be done is to check with your local building department to determine what are required codes regarding illumination, foot candle measurement or type of lighting. That would be the minimum requirement a hospitality facility would be required to have by local law. There is a basic concept in crime prevention that lighting does deter crime.

The easiest way to determine what lighting you have and what is required is to request that from your vendor who provide lighting on parking lot poles or other lighting on the facility. If you utilize in house maintenance staff you may need to retain a specialist who can assist in the process. At minimum someone on staff should conduct a light check each evening and identify any burned out lights observed and follow up to make sure they are replaced as soon as possible.

If you ever fly into a city at night you can see the dramatic differences of lighting when you compare a hotel parking lot to a car dealership as opposed to typical street lighting. The professional consultant can obtain light meter readings and compare them to the local codes for you to assure the lighting is not sufficient or too bright for the intended use. Having a professional conduct a light meter reading immediately after any significant parking lot event is also very valuable if allegations are made regarding insufficient lighting.

CCTV

The use of CCTV in hotel parking lots has grown dramatically in recent years due its perceived ability to deter and detect crime, and its relative lower cost as compared to a 24/7 human security team. Not all criminals are deterred by cameras. The design and installation of a CCTV system should be performed by an individual within the organization who possesses the necessary background and skill set to do so, or an outside consultant.

The selection of the appropriate technology and equipment, and its placement is critical to the system's ability to protect the property. Digital systems are fast becoming the standard. The cost of a digital system is becoming more and more reasonable, and new technology such as IP and megapixel cameras can actually reduce the overall cost of the system by eliminating wiring and the number of cameras necessary, as well as providing extremely clear imagery.

Providing effective CCTV coverage of the parking lot requires proper planning and consideration of the conditions the system will work in, and how the system will be monitored. Camera coverage of the entire area should be seriously considered. If you are unable to cover the entire area, then the identification and coverage of critical areas such as: entry/exit points to the lot and property buildings, areas hidden from view, and remote areas, should be covered.

Lighting is also very important. Placing a camera in a dark area won't do any good, if you can't see the image live or after an incident. Ensure you use the appropriate technology for the situation such as infrared or even night vision cameras to monitor the area. Criminals are extremely adept at locating the one area that isn't properly covered and/or is using ineffective equipment. Make sure you don't have such a hole in your defense.

The installation should be a hybrid of fixed cameras and pan/tilt/zoom (PTZ) cameras depending on the facility design. The fixed cameras will cover the designated areas on a dedicated basis, and the PTZ's are used to patrol the lot, and are brought to bear during a live incident. If a CCTV system is installed, it should be monitored by a trained employee at the location or at the very least, from a remote location, again by a trained employee. Little is accomplished (and little, if any, security provided) when an expensive CCTV system is installed but not monitored. In some hotel environments interior monitoring is required by night desk personnel. A simple log of frequent viewing of the cameras located in the parking areas will also go a long way to prove someone was monitoring. A CCTV system recording however does have investigative value from a documentation standpoint post incident.

The cost of the system and how it will be monitored must both be considered in order to provide effective security of a parking area.

Local Law enforcement

An often underutilized tool available to hotels is your local police department which normally has a crime prevention specialist that can help you with basic crime prevention concepts to include Crime Prevention through Environmental design (CPTED) principals in lighting, CCTV, natural surveillance, perimeters, landscaping and much more at no cost to you. A simple request can save expense and document by letter a proprietor's desire to improve the security of their premises.

alt text
This article was co-authored by Derk Boss. Mr. Boss is currently Director of Surveillance for Casino Aztar in Evansville, Indiana. He is also a respected author, instructor, and speaker, specializing in the fields of surveillance training and methodology, gaming protection, loss prevention, and the detection of internal and external theft and fraud. Mr. Boss has appeared as an expert on several television networks, including the Travel Channel; and his technical articles have appeared in dozens of professional journals, including Security Management magazine, which is published by ASIS International. ASIS International is the largest organization for security professionals with more than 36,000 members worldwide. As a speaker, he has been featured at several international conferences, including the Global Gaming Exposition, Gaming Operation Summit, and Biometric Summit. Currently, he serves on the Gaming and Wagering Council for ASIS International and is the chairman of that council; and president of the International Association of Certified Surveillance Professionals, another respected organization of gaming surveillance personnel. In addition to being a licensed private investigator with close to three decades of experience, Mr. Boss has served as corporate vice president of surveillance and compliance officer for American Casino and Entertainment Properties; director of surveillance for Bally's Gambling Hall (Tunica, Miss.); director of surveillance for Aztar Corporation's Ramada Express (Laughlin, Nev.); director of surveillance for Tropicana Las Vegas; surveillance manager for Ramada Express (Laughlin, NV); and surveillance agent for Del Webb Corporation's Nevada Club (Laughlin). Mr. Boss is a Certified Fraud Examiner (CFE), Certified Protection Professional (CPP), and Certified Surveillance Professional (CSP).

Alan W. Zajic, CPP, CSP, CFE is a Nevada licensed, Board Certified independent security consultant specializing in hospitality, gaming, nightclubs and retail security environments primarily in Nevada. He has over 35 years of practical hands on experience in security and surveillance operations to include Security Director for the Sahara Tahoe and High Sierra resorts in Lake Tahoe as well as corporate security for Del E. Web, Corp. in Nevada. Mr. Zajic is a member of ASIS International where he holds the designation of Certified Protection Professional (CPP) and is currently a Council Vice President with oversight of the Hospitality, Entertainment and Tourism Security Council, Gaming and Wagering Protection Council and the Investigations Council. He is actively involved in the Northern Nevada and Las Vegas Chapters as well as the international security community. He was awarded the ASIS International “Outstanding Council Chairman of the year” for 2010. Mr. Zajic is a member of the International Association of Certified Surveillance Professionals (IACSP) where he holds the designation of Certified Surveillance Professional (CSP) and is a member of the International Association of Professional Security Consultants (IAPSC). He is also a subject matter expert and Track Advisor for the American Gaming Association. Mr. Zajic can be contacted at 775-835-0500 or alanwzajic@aol.com Extended Bio...

HotelExecutive.com retains the copyright to the articles published in the Hotel Business Review. Articles cannot be republished without prior written consent by HotelExecutive.com.

Receive our daily newsletter with the latest breaking news and hotel management best practices.
Hotel Business Review on Facebook
RESOURCE CENTER - SEARCH ARCHIVES
General Search:

NOVEMBER: Architecture & Design: Authentic, Interactive and Immersive

Brian Obie

When people arrive at a hotel they have usually traveled a long distance. They are typically tired and stressed to some degree or another depending on how easy or difficult the journey. When they finally come into our driveway and understand this is where they should be – with the valet right there ready to greet them – they get the sense that they can finally relax. There’s a huge sense of relief. They now can begin their business trip or holiday with the family knowing they will be rested and renewed. READ MORE

Rob Uhrin

When you think of the word resort, what comes to mind? Upscale amenities such as white sandy beaches, luxury pools, first class dining and entertainment and the ultimate spa experience to name a few. The word “resort” probably does not conjure up images of urban cityscapes, or streets filled with busy pedestrians in business suits. There is a new class of resorts coming to the fore in the hospitality industry right now called urban resorts. This article will explore this new type of transformational city design and how to achieve it. READ MORE

Vince  Stroop

In a time when experiences are moments-long and shared over Instagram by many users, it is hard to top the surprise factor when it comes to creating a new destination. Nor should we, as hotel designers, try. With the pace of changing trends that is being communicated to us by branding agencies, designing the next new thing can be tempting. But I am not sure that’s what guests genuinely seek. And judging from the rise of Airbnb, I may be right on my guess that guests want memorable, meaningful experiences, not more selfies. READ MORE

Michael Tall

An urban resort is a property that connects guests to the unique and vibrant elements within a city and outside the hotel. The hotel itself acts as a concierge service, forming a direct link between the local community and those guests who crave localized and authentic excursions. With no signs of slowing down, the urban resort trend is here to stay, and hoteliers can successfully capitalize on this growing segment by keeping the guest experience in mind. At its core, an urban resort is a respite from daily life, offering guests the freedom to choose between relaxed disconnection or active participation within the local community. READ MORE

Coming Up In The December Online Hotel Business Review




{300x250.media}
Feature Focus
Hotel Law: Issues & Events
There is not a single area of a hotel’s operation that isn’t touched by some aspect of the law. Hotels and management companies employ an army of lawyers to advise and, if necessary, litigate issues which arise in the course of conducting their business. These lawyers typically specialize in specific areas of the law – real estate, construction, development, leasing, liability, franchising, food & beverage, human resources, environmental, insurance, taxes and more. In addition, issues and events can occur within the industry that have a major impact on the whole, and can spur further legal activity. One event which is certain to cause repercussions is Marriott International’s acquisition of Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide. This newly combined company is now the largest hotel company in the world, encompassing 30 hotel brands, 5,500 hotels under management, and 1.1 million hotel rooms worldwide. In the hospitality industry, scale is particularly important – the most profitable companies are those with the most rooms in the most locations. As a result, this mega- transaction is likely to provoke an increase in Mergers & Acquisitions industry-wide. Many experts believe other larger hotel companies will now join forces with smaller operators to avoid being outpaced in the market. Companies that had not previously considered consolidation are now more likely to do so. Another legal issue facing the industry is the regulation of alternative lodging companies such as Airbnb and other firms that offer private, short-term rentals. Cities like San Francisco, Los Angeles and Santa Monica are at the forefront of efforts to legalize and control short-term rentals. However, those cities are finding it’s much easier to adopt regulations on short-term rentals than it is to actually enforce them. The December issue of Hotel Business Review will examine these and other critical issues pertaining to hotel law and how some companies are adapting to them.