Business Traveller in/around the Hotel and/or guest room.
In Your Hotel
All hotel rooms abroad are bugged for audio and visual surveillance. This statement, of course, is NOT TRUE, but that is the premise under which you must operate to maintain an adequate level of security awareness while conducting business abroad. Many hotel rooms overseas are under surveillance. In those countries where the intelligence services are very active, if you are a business person working for a western/american company of interest to the government or government sponsored competitor, everything that you do in that hotel room may be recorded and analyzed for possible vulnerabilities or for any useful information that can be derived from your conversation.
With the basic premise established above, here are some security tips that will minimize the potential risks.
Hotel Room Key
Keep it with you at all times. The two most common ways that thieves and others use to determine if a person is in their hotel room is to look at the hotel room mail slot or key board or call the room on the house phone. If you do not answer the phone that is one thing, but, if your room key is there, you are obviously out and the coast is clear for a thief or anyone else who is interested in searching your room and luggage.
Invest in a good map of the city. Mark significant points on a map such as your hotel, embassies and police stations. Study the map and make a mental note of alternative routes to your hotel or local office should your map become lost or stolen.
· Be aware of your surroundings. Look up and down the street before exiting a building.
· Learn how to place a telephone call and how to use the coin telephones. Make sure you always have extra coins for the telephone.
· Avoid jogging or walking in cities you are not familiar with. If you must jog, be aware of the traffic patterns when crossing public streets. (Joggers have been seriously injured by failing to understand local traffic conditions.)
Valuables should normally be left at home. The rule of thumb is, if you neither want nor can afford to lose them, DO NOT TAKE THEM! However, if you must carry valuables, the best way to protect them is to secure them in your local offices. If that is not possible, the next best course of action is to seal any valuables by double enveloping, initialing across seams and taping all edges and seams before depositing them in the hotel’s safe deposit box or safe.
Keep it locked whenever you are out of the room. It will not stop the professional thief or intelligence agent but it will keep the curious maid honest.
Keep your passport with you at all times. The only time that you should relinquish it is:
· To the hotel if required by law when registering.
· If you are required to identify yourself to local authorities for any reason.
At night, lock your passport and your other valuables in your luggage. This eliminates their mysterious disappearance while you are asleep or in the shower.
Utilize a portable or improvised burglar alarm while asleep. Two ash trays and a water glass are quite effective as an alarm when placed on the floor in front of the entry door into your room. Place a water glass in one ashtray and put the second ashtray on top of the glass. If a straight chair is available, place it next to the door and put the ash tray/water glass alarm on the edge of the chair where it will fall with enough racket to wake you.
Guest Room as a “Safe Haven”
Hotels are required to provide reasonable care to ensure that guests have a safe and secure stay. Hotels are not required to guarantee guest security. You are responsible for your personal security and property.
· While in the room, keep the door closed and engage the dead bolt and privacy latch or chain. A limited number of hotel emergency keys can override the dead bolt locks. To ensure privacy use the latch or chain!
· Hoteliers provide guest room “safes” for the convenience of guests. However, these containers are not as durable as bank safes and can be breached. Furthermore, the Housekeepers Liability Laws provide that if guest property is not in the “care, custody and control of the hotel,” the hotel is not liable. Guests should always place money or valuables in the safe deposit box at the front desk of the hotel.
· When leaving the guest room, ensure that the door properly closes and is secured. Make a mental note of how your property was left; avoid leaving valuables in plain view or in an
unorganized manner. A number of hotel employees enter the room each day to clean, repair and restock the room. Although most hotel employees are honest and hardworking, a few succumb to the temptation of cash or jewelry left unprotected.
· If you determine that an item is missing, conduct a thorough search prior to reporting the incident to hotel security. Do not expect to receive a copy of the security report, as it is an internal document. The incident should be reported to the local police, the Regional Security and Consular Officers at your Embassy, and your insurance carrier. Hotel security can provide a letter verifying that you reported property missing.
· Prior to traveling, it is recommended that you copy all credit cards, passport, air tickets and other documents to facilitate reporting loss and replacing them. While traveling abroad, secure these documents in the room safe deposit box and carry copies of your passport and visa.
· Request housekeeping make up your room while you are at breakfast, rather than leave a “Please Service This Room” sign on the door knob. This sign is a signal to criminals that the room is unoccupied.
· If you are required to use parking stickers in your auto, be sure that it does not indicate your name or room number.
Around The Hotel
Most first class international hotels have spent a considerable sum to ensure your safety and security. Fire safety equipment, CCTVs, and security patrols are often part of the hotel’s security plan. Regardless of the level of security provided by the hotel, you need to become familiar with certain aspects of the security profile of the hotel. This will take on increased significance when you may be forced to stay at the only hotel at a particular location.
· Vary the time and route by which you leave and return to the hotel. Be alert for persons watching your movements.
· Note if hotel security locks certain access points after dark. Plan to use the main entrance upon return to the property.
· Speak with the bellman, concierge and front desk regarding safe areas around the city in which to jog, dine or sightsee. Ask about local customs and which taxi companies to use or avoid.
· Do not take valuables to the spa or work out room. Note if there are house phones available in the event of a confrontation or emergency.
· Be cautious when entering rest rooms in the hotel. On occasion, unauthorized persons use these facilities to deal drugs or engage in prostitution or theft. Female travelers should be alert to placing purses on hangers on the inside of the lavatory doors, or on the floor in stalls – two frequent locations for grab and run thefts.
· Areas around public telephones are often used by criminals to stage pickpocket activity or theft. Keep briefcases and purses in view or “in touch” while using phones. Caution is urged in safeguarding telephone credit card numbers. Criminals wait for callers to announce credit card numbers on public phones and then sell the numbers for unauthorized use.
· Purse snatchers and briefcase thieves are known to work hotel bars and restaurants waiting for unknowing guests to drape these items on chairs or under tables only to discover them missing as they are departing. Keep items in view or “in touch”. Be alert to scams involving an unknown person spilling a drink or food on your clothing. An accomplice may be preparing to steal your wallet, briefcase or purse.
· The pool or beach area is a fertile area for thieves to take advantage of guests enjoying recreation. Leave valuables in the hotel. Safeguard your room key and camera. Sign for food and beverages on your room bill rather than carry cash.
· Prostitutes take advantage of travelers around the world through various ploys, use of “knock out” drugs, and theft from the victim’s room. Avoid engaging persons who you do not know and refrain from inviting them to your guest room.
Hotel Fire Safety for the Traveler
Fire safety at home and abroad is a matter of thinking ahead, knowing what to do, and keeping your fear under control. Panic and smoke are the most dangerous threats in the case of a fire. To minimize the risk of a fire, the traveler should remember the precautions listed below and where feasible:
· Stay only at hotels which have smoke detectors and/or sprinklers installed in all rooms and provide information about fire/safety procedures.
· Request a room between the second and seventh floor. Most fire departments do not have the capability to rescue people above the seventh floor level with external rescue equipment (i.e., ladders).
· Inquire as to how guests are notified if there is an emergency.
Your Hotel Room
· Note the location of the fire exits (stairs) on your floor. Count the number of doors between your room and the exit. If there is a fire, you may have to crawl there in the dark.
· Check exit doors to be sure that they are unlocked and that stairwells are clear of obstructions.
· Note the location of fire alarms, extinguishers and hoses and read any fire safety information available in your room.
· Check outside your room window to ascertain if there is a possible escape route that would be feasible in an extreme emergency.
In Case of a Fire
· KEEP CALM – DO NOT PANIC.
· Call the front desk and notify them of the location of the fire.
· Check your door by placing your palm on the door and then on the door knob. If either feels hot, DO NOT OPEN THE DOOR.
· If it is safe to exit from your room, head for the stairs. TAKE YOUR ROOM KEY WITH YOU, YOU MAY HAVE TO RETURN TO YOUR ROOM.
· If the corridor is full of smoke, crawl to the exit and again check the door before opening it to see if it is hot. The fire could be in the stairwell.
· DO NOT USE THE ELEVATOR!
· If you can not leave your room or the stairwells are unsafe and you must return to your room:
· Notify the front desk that you are in your room awaiting rescue.
· Open a window for fresh air. Do not break the window as you may need to close it again if smoke starts to enter from the outside.
· Fill the tub and sink with water. Soak towels and blankets as necessary to block vents and openings around doors to keep the smoke and fumes out.
· Attempt to keep the walls, doors and towels covering vents and cracks cool and wet.
· A wet towel swung around the room will help clear the room of smoke.
· Cover your mouth and nose with a wet cloth.
· Stay low, but alert to any signs of rescue from the street or the halls. Let the firemen know where you are by waving a towel or sheet out the window