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Peter Milewski

  • From your point of view, how important it is for a hotel to implement a training program that continuously educates employees on best practices?

Hotel environment, by its very nature, needs to be welcoming and as restrictions and barriers free as possible. Travellers appreciate wide open spaces, common eating and working areas, ability to move freely between public places within a hotel – as long though – as their perceived level of safety and security is high enough. This is a challenging issue for hotels of creating a “security bubble” with a mixture of technological means and employees’ engagement.

It is widely accepted that technological features will not work well enough without being complemented by the employees’ training, procedures and readiness to identify and disrupt any potential dangers. The most advanced CCTV cameras and the most sophisticated access control solutions would not by themselves replace well trained staff members able to not only spot abnormalities, identify suspicious behaviour or circumstances but also to escalate their findings quickly and efficiently to the right persons within the organisation.

In order to effectively address the issue of creating a security conscious organisation a continuous education program of the workforce is an absolute key factor. The process needs to be ongoing as the threats are changing and employees must be aware not only of the threats of the past and present (such as common crime) but also new emerging risks of the future (social engineering, cybercrime, data breaches). Hospitality workers operate in a very demanding and busy environment and it is only through well designed, continuous, engaging and relevant training that hotels can ensure that the human element of their security strategy is matching or exceeding the technological side.

  • Is it possible to train your staff to recognise suspicious guests and behaviour, without overly and obviously analysing each guest?

Since the implementation in 2010 of our bespoke five principal Securomania system in the first property of Melia White House in London the incident rate has decreased dramatically and remain very low now. Our staff have been able to recognise more efficiently, accurately and promptly suspicious indicators and prevent cases of fraud, crime or disorder. Interestingly we have not had any increase in the number of complaints from our guests regarding staff being heavy handed or intrusive. The key element of Securomania that enabled this result was the fact that security elements were incorporated deeply into regular customer service and operational procedures rather than treated as a disruptive or time consuming add on. The support for creation of a security conscious organisation through Securomania came from the very top of the company which was a clear message for the staff that we believe as much in providing great experiences in our hotels as in ensuring our guests’ security.

An interesting and hugely rewarding part of the Securomania implementation for me is when our staff members tell me about situations from their personal life outside work when they manage to recognise risks to themselves or their property before they actually materialise themselves. Spotting a pickpocket on a bus, a table surfer in a restaurant or a mobile phone snatcher on the street are some of the stories I heard from colleagues who have gone through their Securomania training.

  • At the conference, you will present a case study about handling vandalism in your hotel. Can you give us a brief introduction into your presentation?

Vandalism is not a glamorous subject and my colleagues from other hotels would surely agree that you would have as much luck finding people willing to analyse and discuss it as you would have to find volunteers to take ownership of a compactor area or waste management. It is certainly a bit of a taboo subject and my aim is to demystify it during my presentation. I am not going to talk about indestructible furniture, CCTV cameras and cases of vandalism caused by members of the public but will rather concentrate on how vandalism prevention and detection can be written into a hotel’s security strategy and what methods we use in dealing with vandalism after it actually takes place behind closed doors of guest rooms.

  • What are your expectations from attending Safe Stay event in London? What are you most looking forward to?

I am very enthusiastic about Safe Stay as I believe it will serve two very important purposes. On one hand, it will allow to energise even further a very active hotel security space where we compete for business but cooperate closely to reduce risks for the broader industry. On the other hand, I believe Safe Stay will allow hotel security professionals to showcase the level of their expertise and innovation to the audience from outside the hospitality sector but still involved in the protection of, either fully or at least partially, soft targets.