Guest Security Concerns Spotlight In-Room Safes.
By Jeffrey Goldstein
Wednesday, 14th March 2007
In-room hotel safes have changed from amenity to necessity - Travelers carry more electronic devices and accessories than ever, and are more concerned with security. Business people take expensive laptops, PDAs and sophisticated phones on the road. Leisure guests bring a wide variety of personal items, including digital cameras and video recorders.

Travelers insist on a secure environment for their belongings, and in all cases hotel operators are responsible for the safety of both guests and their valuables.

With a growing number of guests using in-room safes, operators recognize the importance of providing reliable, trouble-free protection for their properties. Very few chains mandate guestroom safes to franchisees but hotels are opting to install safes on their own. Here are five tips that can help operators choose the right safe:

Verify reliability.

A safe must work every time. It should open and lock smoothly with an appropriate code or credit card. When a safe doesn't operate that way, the security-conscious guest often asks the property to replace it or relocate the guest to a room with a functioning unit. The best way to check reliability is to try the safe yourself and verify quality by contacting at least two other properties using the brand you're considering.

Test ease of use.

Guest safes must be easy to use. Directions should be clearly printed and the safe should have large, legible keypads and LED displays. When a guest enters a PIN (personal identification number) it should be displayed on the LED panel immediately prior to the safe's lock being activated to ensure guests can verify their code. If directions are not easily understood or difficult to locate or read, guests will require assistance from hotel staff, potentially creating a poor experience and keeping staff from fulfilling other duties.

Guestroom safes must be flexible.

Safes should be adaptable to guest needs and use either a guest-configured PIN or a personal credit card. Many safes allow only PIN access, but guests often prefer credit-card-swipe access to verify security. Credit-card-swipe locks are more user-friendly because there is no number to memorize. PIN and credit-card locking systems are equally secure but the latter are more personal and do not depend on a guest's memory.

Quick and simple on-site repair.

Guests will occasionally lock themselves out by forgetting their PIN, so a safe must be easy to open with the right tools and for hotel staff to repair. Make sure your provider offers personalized service and will stock on property all the parts you may need to repair your safes.

Size matters.

Pick a safe of a size appropriate to your guests' needs. If your city property caters to business travelers, install safes that accommodate the latest 17-inch-screen laptop computers. Smaller units may be appropriate for resorts or roadside properties. Additionally, be wary of safes that feature internal electrical outlets for charging laptops; charging batteries generates heat that may harm electrical components in an enclosed space.

With a growing number of travelers requiring safes, install the best models for your property. Before you select them, talk to operators of similar properties who use the units you are considering. Your guests and staff will appreciate that.

Jeffrey Goldstein is president of Hospitality Safe Corporation, a Fort Lauderdale, FL company that manufactures, sells and services the Challenger series of electronic in-room safes. Reach him at (954) 749-5331 or safes@mindspring.com
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