How Secure Is Your Hotel Program?

Travelers spend a significant amount of their time on the road in hotels, but that doesn’t necessarily mean they’re safe. Incorporating safety and security into the hotel RFP process is the first step towards proactively managing risk and keeping your travelers safe while simultaneously protecting your organization from liability.

The GBTA Risk Committee recently hosted a webinar entitled How Secure Is Your Hotel Program? to assist travel managers in building strategies that incorporate travel risk into hotel program negotiations. BCD Travel’s Kathy Bedell led and moderated the session, while DistributionNOW’s Ben Coleman and International SOS’ Tim Daniel provided valuable takeaways for participants.

Ben kicked off the webinar by stressing the importance of conducting risk assessments by soliciting recommendations from various industry sources (travel managers, travelers, meeting planners, travel agents, etc.) and collecting information or data wherever possible through post-trip briefs from travelers, credit card reports, expense reporting tools, and more. He also suggested creating a customized hotel RFP that incorporates risk based on the key questions listed below.

Next up, Tim walked through the value of encouraging travelers to use preferred properties as much as possible. Many organizations lack a consistent approach in mandating centralized booking for hotel accommodations, and this can pose issues when it comes to locating travelers and pinpointing their whereabouts in case of an emergency. For unique situations in which travelers stay at alternative accommodations, it’s necessary to ensure the information is still being captured.

Of course, predicting risk is more than just preparing for worst-case scenarios like terrorist attacks. It’s equally imperative to pay attention to mundane risks like standards of hygiene and food preparation, security of internet connection, the hotel’s handling of sensitive information like passport copies, and more. Although much of this is difficult to surface during the RFP process, Tim mentioned travelers can observe things of this nature and provide feedback following the conclusion of their trip.

The most crucial thing to remember is that risk does not have a one-size-fits-all approach. Applying the same methodology across multiple properties puts you at a disadvantage, especially when certain properties are in destinations that are more prone to risk or outside threats. Using a risk-based approach should inform the process in which you review properties. For destinations where risk is low, relying on a standardized RFP process or approach suffices. On the other hand, for hotels in extreme or high-risk destinations, it’s crucial to seek multiple sources of input including advice from an in-house security team or other travel risk provider.

Last, but certainly not least, our presenters emphasized education and communication for travelers to comply with duty of loyalty. It is imperative to provide proper training on situational awareness and risk and encourage travelers to take their safety seriously, including looking at the exit map for the nearest fire escape or paying attention to emergency briefings on planes. On that note, Ben recommended determining the best way to relay information to travelers, since not all travelers learn and process information similarly.

GBTA members may view the webinar in full through the Hub. These sessions are just around the corner:

  • The Hidden Impact of Flight Disruptions (Tuesday, February 27 – 2:00 PM ET)
  • Map Your Show & GBTA: Best Practices for GBTA Convention 2018 (Wednesday, February 28 – 2:00 PM ET)
  • GBTA Government Relations Challenge The How’s and Why’s of Becoming a Challenge Partner (Tuesday, March 6 – 2:00 PM ET)
  • Expense Management (Thursday, March 8 – 9:00 AM ET) – delivered in Portuguese

The full schedule of webinars is available here.