The Safety and Security of U.S. Hotels: A Post-September-11 Report

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An inventory of the safety and security features of 2,123 U.S. hotels found an uneven distribution of these key amenities in various hotel types, with differences relating to such factors as hotel size, age, price segment, hotel type and location. Although safety features are essentially a subset of security features, the two can be distinguished from each other. Safety considerations involve protecting people, while security factors embrace protecting the hotel property and guests’ possessions, in addition to ensuring employees and guests’ personal safety. Safety equipment includes items such as sprinklers and smoke detectors, while security features include electronic locks and security cameras. By assigning weights to the two sets of items, the authors created two indexes, one for safety equipment and one for security equipment. The higher the hotel’s score on each index, the greater the level of its safety and security equipment. Analyzing the hotels’ scores on those indexes across several different categories, the authors found considerable diversity in safety and security index scores for various types of hotel. About one-third of all hotels scored relatively high on both scales (85 or higher out of 100), but 16 percent scored 25 or less on the security scale. Luxury and upscale hotels recorded the highest scores for safety and security, while economy and midprice full-service hotels scored lower than most segments on the safety scale-even though a large proportion have sprinklers. The age of the property has a strong influence on its safety and security scores. In general, the newer the hotel, the higher its safety and security scores. This is because electronic locks, sprinklers, and interior corridors are relatively less common in old hotels (over 29 years) than in hotels built in the last decade. The exception to that rule occurs in luxury hotels, which are renovated frequently regardless of their age. A hotel’s location type has considerable influence. Airport hotels earned the highest safety and security scores (because they tended to have a full panoply of safety and security devices), while resorts were one of the lowest scoring sectors (chiefly because so many of them lack sprinklers and electronic door locks). While hotels’ safety and security indexes differed only slightly by geographic region, one area that did record relatively low security (but not safety) scores is New England. This may be a function of the many small inns and B&Bs in this region, properties that typically score low on security equipment. The survey turned up marked differences in the safety and security indexes by property type. All-suite properties, conference and convention hotels, and standard full-service hotels tended to score high on the indexes. On the other hand, motels as a group had the lowest safety and security scores, and condos and (as mentioned) B&Bs also scored low. A parallel finding is that large hotels generally scored higher than small hotels on both indexes.

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security features; safety procedures; safety and security index


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