In this article, the premises security experts discuss some of the most important aspects of premises security in the hospitality industry.
I. PATRONAGE OF THE HOTEL INDUSTRY
Hotels invite patrons onto their premises. They have a responsibility to ensure that their premises are reasonably safe for their patrons and employees. This invitation extends to all parts of the premises to which the patron may be expected to go and to those parts of the premises that the hotel has led the patrons to believe they can go. This can include hallways, aisles, walkways, and areas of parking lots. This responsibility has been established by court decisions made in many jurisdictions. Additionally, as early as 1992 and reaffirmed in 2001, the National Safety Council has stated:
The degree of legally required attention, caution, concern, diligence, discretion, prudence, or watchfulness depends upon the circumstances. For example, a high degree of care is demanded from people who invite others onto their premises by written, verbal, or implied invitation. All sales and service enterprises must exercise a high degree of care for the safety of their patrons. As long as a business is open, it assumes a responsibility for the well-being of its customers.1
Security for patrons and their property is important. If a bad reputation is labeled to a particular location, its’ long term viability becomes questionable. The hotel industry has often been accused of being negligent in the security of its guests. Negligent security claims have resulted in courts ruling that the hotel industry take a responsibility for the safety and security of their patrons. Security is one of the most important issues confronting the hotel industry today. This issue is discussed in Introduction to Security:
The hotel and motel industry has been characterized in the past by serious neglect of many security responsibilities, an attitude that has only slowly been changing in spite of a number of very large awards by the courts in recent years against hotels or motels charged with negligent security, particularly in the area of protecting guests.2
As a result of this perception of security, as it relates to hotels, Introduction to Security further stated:
The area of civil liability is of great importance to the security industry because the courts have been more willing to hold the industry legally responsible for protection in this area than in others. This trend is particularly noticeable in the hotel and motel industry, where owners are liable for failure to adequately protect guests from foreseeable criminal activity. In some circumstances, a hotel or motel owner might be held accountable for failure to provide adequate protection from criminal actions.3
II. PARKING FACILITIES
Parking lots and parking garages are resources used by businesses for accommodating the vehicles of their patrons and employees. Parking lots and parking garages come in all sizes and shapes. They can be elevated above ground level or be subterranean. Parking garages can have levels of parking that are both subterranean and elevated high above the ground. Poor lighting, columns, ramps, and walls can lead to poor visibility within the parking garage. Parking lots can allow a criminal to watch for security and provide access to escape routes from the area. Remote areas of parking facilities, especially at night, require proper lighting.
Parking facilities have low levels of activity when compared to the business they are associated with. There will only be a small percentage of people in the parking facility compared to inside of the building of the business. As a result of this low level of patron activity in the parking lot, violent crime is more likely to occur. In 1996, as part of a research brief by the National Institute of Justice, Crime Prevention Through Environmental Design in Parking Facilities was highlighted. It stated:
Because parking facilities are more likely settings for crime-both violent and property than all other real estate except residential, security is one of the most critical issues facing the owners and operators of parking facilities today.4
Security is more problematic for parking garages. Parking garages allow more vehicles to be parked on the same amount of land. Parking garages offer less natural surveillance than the level parking lot. This is because of the parking garage being partially or fully enclosed, elevated above ground, or having ramps that provide access to the multiple floors of the facility.