How safe are hotel rooms and can you make yours safer

Hotel rooms, Cr-theaustintimes.com

Hotel rooms, Cr-theaustintimes.com

by Stephen Mattson,

Hotels, like any other business, rely on customer satisfaction and repeat business in order to survive. Most go out of their way to ensure your safety and comfort, but there are always precautions guests can take to increase their security and protection.

* Research the location

No matter how nice the hotel may appear, the chances of being a victim of a crime will increase if it’s located in a bad neighborhood. Before traveling, determine what the surrounding area is like by asking friends for recommendations and doing online research. Websites such as TripAdvisor.com and travel post.com offer honest reviews and photos that can give travelers a good idea of what to expect before booking a hotel.
If the location is bad and you don’t have the option stay anywhere else, book a room at a reputable hotel known being classy and hospitable. The fancier hotels usually have better security, trustworthy staff, and safer facilities.

* Protect your valuables

Experienced travelers know not to leave laptops, IPods, or GPS units inside of a vehicle – even for a short time. Carry expensive items with you, and store them within the hotel. If available, use a hotel’s valet service, or tip the front desk workers cash in order to park your vehicle close to the main entrance.

Take advantage of the storage and security services that hotels offer, such as storage units and room lock-boxes. Upon special request, managers can keep items under lock-and-key within the hotel office, and some hotels even print receipts and guarantees for the items left for safekeeping. Hotels also offer storage services, where guests can store extra bags, suitcases, and belongings upon leaving or being absent. Simply ask the front desk about these options. Once the items are within the confines of the hotel, the liability is usually transferred to them, so don’t leave any possessions in the car.

* Use the bellman, request an escort

Bellmen (or another staff-member if no bellmen are present) are on property to serve the guests. They make their living by serving the hotel’s clients and can be depended on when it comes to issues of security and safety. When first arriving to check-in, ask a bellman to escort you to make sure nobody is within the assigned room. Hotels can make mistakes and accidentally double-book your accommodation. By having a bellman present, they can protect you from liability issues if you mistakenly walk into the wrong room, or can assist with issues of safety. Tipping them will also ensure that they go out of their way to look after you – it’s worth the extra money.

At check-in you can also request that your name and room number be unlisted and kept confidential. If you’re expecting visitors, make a list of guests that are allowed and restricted to visit. Hotel staff are naturally attentive and have a good idea of who is a guest and who isn’t, befriend them and ask for their advice – they will go out of their way to make sure you’re protected.

* Take precautions

There are some simple techniques that can be used to increase your safety while staying at a hotel. First, book a room close to the front desk or main lobby. Intruders and thieves don’t want to be near heavy-traffic areas, so the closer you are to other people, the better. Avoid rooms that are secluded, next to exits, or connected to an adjoining room. The most secure rooms are the ones that have only point of entry.

Check to make sure the room phone is working, and that the locks on the door function properly. Most hotel doors have two locking devices; one is automatically enabled once the door is shut; the second is a bolt or chain that can be manually used only from within the room. When inside, always use these secondary locks, and if you don’t want any hotel staff entering while you’re gone, take advantage of the “Do Not Disturb” signs.

* Report suspicious activity

If you feel unsafe or witness any criminal or suspicious activity, immediately report it to the hotel staff and leave the area if you’re in danger. If they are non responsive or unavailable, call 911. Police are especially understanding and accommodating to visitors and tourists in the area and are quick to respond to hotel calls. Communities work hard to maintain tourism and build a reputation of safety, so both the hotel management and the local law enforcement officials treat hotel complaints and security threats seriously. If something is stolen from a room, have the hotel check the lock and video records, and always make a report. Most properties are equipped with computerized systems that track which keys where activated and can know exactly when they were used. Hotels also have cameras positioned in key areas, and the recordings can often be traced to the time of the incident.

Hotels should be a place of comfort and relaxation, so find a place that will reduce your security and safety concerns. By being prepared, utilizing hotel services, networking with hotel staff and friends, and using common sense, your stay can be enjoyable and stress-free.

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