Guarding against hotel horrors as global travel returns

World Travel Protection's travel experts identify careful steps to ensure a safe trip

Covid-19’s economic impact on local communities have led to a spike in theft from hotel rooms as well as crime in and around hotel precincts, which were already increasing prior to the pandemic.

Here are nine tips to help business travellers guard against opportunistic offenses.

Having a safe hotel stay requires advance planning and preparation

The surprising item every traveller should pack – and it fits in the smallest part of your suitcase
Crimes could be thwarted with something as simple as a doorstop. Even in the modern era of high-tech surveillance and monitoring, the humble doorstop can still hold its own. When wedged under the door, it
can provide enough of a deterrent to make the thieves reconsider.

Doorstops with an inbuilt alarm – which can be as loud as a fire alarm – can scare off any would-be thief.

Think about those valuables when packing and storing
Travellers should reconsider the need to take expensive items along for the ride, leaving valuable and attractive items at home. If valuables must be brought on the trip, beware of storing valuables in hotel safety boxes, as some can be carried out of the room.

Location, location, location
Enhance one’s security by requesting a room between the third and sixth floor of a hotel, as this minimises the ability for thieves to climb onto balconies and through a window, but puts the guest still within reach of most fire ladders in case of emergency.

In addition, prioritise hotels that require a key/card to access guestroom levels. Do note that levels with hotel bars are usually accessible by the general public, so where possible, ask for a room away from general entry areas.

Be aware of your surroundings
Use one’s powers of observation to keep safe. Pay attention to emergency exits and fire escapes, and note how many steps they are away from one’s door to enable evacuation under heavy smoke, total power loss or a large-scale criminal act targeting the hotel.

At the same time, observe people in the hotel foyer – some may be paying extra attention to guests that they intend to mark out as a potential target of crime.

Pack a ‘go bag’
Get into the habit of packing a ‘go bag’ with essentials such as drinking water, non-perishable food items, a small first-aid kit and important documents. This bag could help one survive until help arrives.

Prevent unwanted visitors
In World Travel Protection’s travel risk training, clients are advised not to state their home address at reception; if one is travelling for work, provide the company’s details instead.

It is also prudent to have the reception staff write down one’s room number instead of speaking it out aloud.

Further, book a room next to the elevators to minimise the risk of being cornered at the end of a long hotel corridor.

Consider cyber security
The World Travel Protection team recommends avoiding hotel Wi-Fi use; instead utilise a Wi-Fi dongle or other hot-spotting device for increased cyber security. Only store on your computer what you need for your trip to minimise data that can potentially be stolen or breached.

Choose a hotel that is suitable for a long-term relationship!
Planning ahead is essential for a safer and more comfortable travel experience, and that includes picking the right accommodation.

Properties with windows that can be opened, and which offer good ventilation are a good bet. Travellers must consider the possibility of contracting the virus while on their trip, which could potentially mean an extended stay at their hotel. In case one has to be isolated for a period, be mindful of booking a room that is comfortable and has space to move.

Be risk aware
Businesses with staff travelling internationally should undertake risk assessments, including on destinations, accommodation and personnel who are travelling.

However, the onus is also on the individual staff member to look after their own safety. Consider offering travel risk training for staff who must travel frequently, so that they can learn to be risk aware and informed, and be able to recognise anything unusual.

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