A few years ago I wrote an article on LinkedIn in regards to "Hotel Surveys." This is an updated version. If you work in the protection field you know that spending time in hotels are a common occurrence. The year 2020 excluded. You may be there for conventions, meetings, concerts, or just for your client’s slumber. The advance work and survey for the hotel is of utmost importance. The Hotel is the time when your client can be caught off guard, you do not want to follow suit.
Your points of contacts are not only your extra security or intelligence but also your access and hotel GPS if needed. The Director/Manager of Security is a great place to start. They will have access to keys and the security systems within the hotel. It’s also good to know the security officers on-duty the time of the event. General Managers, Front Desk Managers, and/or Catering Managers are also great sources within the hotel. Some hotels may not have formal security, in which case the front desk might be your only option. What role will you have hotel security assume if any (I.e. roving patrols, checkpoints, etc.)? If possible, try and make sure room is available and keys are accessible to avoid down time and any unnecessary security risks. Some front desk staff might not give you a key, so don't be rude, they're trying to keep their guests safe as well. If your principal is coming in with a large group then the reservation might be booked through the Sales Department, try there.
Ask about the Fire Alarms and Sprinkler Systems for two reasons; 1. The obvious reason is in the event of a fire. 2) The not-so-obvious is that the fire alarm system can be used as a distraction by the any intruder looking to cause harm. However, the same system can be used as a diversion by us, the protectors as well. We definitely want to know about the Security Camera System as well.
As a protection agent one of our tasks really is to be a concierge. Trust me you will be asked about the weather, coffee shops, breakfast, and much more. Because you are a professional you will likely have a good answer for the client. Inquire about internet access. Many executives need this for their work. Ask about Tax exemptions, foreign currency exchange rate, electric current within the rooms (110V or 220V), type of credit cards accepted, as well as the type of hotel it is (public, military, residential, etc.). Knowing the room rates are important as well as what comes with the room rate i.e. breakfast.
Research the hotel services. The bell staff and valet service are very common requests. Keep cash on hand you may be tipping the bell staff or having requests for the valet service, who can take care of your parking needs. Other services may include; laundry, currency exchange, fitness center, restaurant, room service, pool service, late check-out/ early check in, bars, and business centers to name a few.
Depending on the client/ principal and the purpose of their visit you will want to inquire about the removal or exchanging the furniture in the security controlled and common area rooms. This request might be for necessity or just plain safety. You may request the mini-bar in the room to be removed.
On the date of arrival will someone be greeting your client? If so, who? Where will your vehicle(s) be parked? And in an emergency evacuation how do you access the vehicle expeditiously. If client needs to leave the hotel where will you depart from? Describe the walking route from the hotel entrance to your client’s room. Also, describe the emergency evacuation route from your client’s room. What room and what floor is your client staying on and are you staying near your client.
Elevators also need to be addressed. What is the weight capacity and maximum occupancy of the elevator? Are you going to lock down the elevators? If so you need keys or an attendant with the keys. Address all elevators; main elevators and service elevators. Do not forget about elevators that open from the front and back. You also want to know about the delivery of the baggage and make arrangements for such delivery.
Now depending on the nature of the visit, the client in question, and the resources available you may consider screening hotel staff and inquire about guests within the client’s vicinity. This may be a decision from the general management level, so be professional and courteous to staff. Many times with most executives this might not be an option.
Consider the types of sweeps you do in your client’s room or event venue. Which mutual aid will you use? K-9s, Bomb specialists, and other resources may be your options. Again, this also might not be necessary depending on the client. Are you going to sweep the luggage and/or vehicles as well? Will you be using technical surveillance counter measures (TSCM) for board rooms or other private spaces?
Make sure you have inquired about the Medical resources. Are there First Aid Kits or AED devices in the hotel? Where are they located? Are there any EMT or paramedic certified staff members? What and where is the nearest hospital or medical facility?
Don’t forget to attach maps, diagrams, and/or photos with your survey. A picture is worth a thousand words. Remember be methodical and thorough. Your client hires you to keep them safe. You need to keep you safe as well. Lastly, when it’s time for departure make it a smooth transition as well. Have the bags loaded before the client is moving, this will again prevent unnecessary security down time.
As always stay safe and always be vigilant.