The hospitality industry is constantly evolving. Hotels focus on leveraging technology to enhance the user experience, which includes streamlining processes and adding additional amenities that draw repeat visits. At the same time, efforts to maintain the safety and security of individual hotels and hotel chains face a sea change. Although security began as a property protection function, it has broadened to include plans to mitigate several types of threats, ranging from fraud and malfeasance to terrorism to response to major events including natural and manmade disasters.
It is clear from the growing demand for technology solutions within this segment that hospitality is very focused on ensuring a safe environment for those inside the facility. Hotels strive to deliver exceptional customer service while balancing the safety and security of guests, employees and visitors with a welcoming environment. Modern risks, including those related to cybersecurity, liability and compliance, have propelled the need for stringent yet creative security strategies to be integrated into a hotel’s overall business strategy.
As hotels don’t report incidents, there is limited public data regarding the safety and security of these properties. However, it’s still clear that threats exist in hotels and resorts. A 2009 study that examined crimes reported by 64 Miami Beach hotels to the Miami Beach Police Department showed that theft is a chief problem, with nearly half of the 756 reported crimes being thefts.
Threats like those mentioned above continue to be a significant driver in the deployment of video surveillance, video intelligence technologies and other security systems. The demonstrated value of video drives further interest in surveillance platforms, and this along with other factors propels the use of video surveillance as it continues to advance globally. According to a 2017 report from Research and Markets, the video surveillance market is projected to grow at a CAGR of 9.6 percent from 2017 to 2023, with hospitality, healthcare and education verticals forecasted to grow at an even higher rate.
Technology plays a critical role in the effectiveness of a security function in all organizations, and the hospitality industry is no exception. In research conducted by Professor Alexandros Paraskevas, Chair in Hospitality Management at the University of West London, with assistance from the International Centre for Hotel and Resort Management, a large majority of hotels reported that video surveillance is by far the ‘core’ solution in use today. According to one participant, “95 percent of the discussion on security technology investment is about video surveillance.” Most executives consider video to be the leading investment, used as a deterrent or as an investigative tool. It is predominantly used in a reactive, not proactive manner.
Even though technology is considered a force multiplier, many hotels struggle with allocating sufficient budget for security measures. Security investment within the hospitality sector is typically a ‘reluctant spend’ since it is not considered a revenue generator. That does not mean that the hospitality industry doesn’t prioritize security, it’s just a matter of setting the right mindset. Owners and managers who realize the importance of employee and guest safety, and the overall benefit of security are keener to discuss investment. This is why security leaders must be willing and able to educate senior leaders on the technology being proposed.
As video surveillance becomes more prominent as a business operations tool in addition to a critical piece of a comprehensive security plan, valuable innovations such as panoramic and 360-degree cameras and video analytics, are important tools to reduce cost and increase coverage of large areas such as hotel lobbies and parking lots. But these products are only one piece of the puzzle – a comprehensive security solution can not only prevent and provide investigative/ forensic support, but also reduce insurance premiums and increase business. It is critical that video cameras and other security solutions are integrated to form a more comprehensive view of a hotel’s overall security posture. Simple, intelligent systems that bring information to the operator are optimal because they help hotels gain new levels of intelligence to help mitigate risks more effectively and proactively.
The future is now
Advancements in technologies propel new ways for security technology – most predominantly video – to be leveraged throughout an organization. Video data can be leveraged for additional uses that span several departments including business operations and marketing. The capital investment in video capture technology then becomes more widely distributed as more departments utilize the information, going from a required ‘grudge purchase’ to a ‘Swiss Army Knife’ of operational benefits.
For example, the future of analytics provides heat-mapping functionality that hotels can use to identify busy areas for target marketing. Users can analyze traffic and people flow, and use that information to determine how to best use specific areas. With facial recognition software, hotels can better address the needs of VIPs by allowing hotel staff to be alert when a frequent guest arrives. How’s that for customer service?
Hotels and resorts can use advanced technologies to better serve guests in an effort to deliver the kind of personalized service that customers will come to expect from their visit in the future. This will allow brands to build long-term relationships and ensure return visits, leading to increased revenue streams and a successful sustained business model. At the same time, hotels will be able to realize new levels of safety and security to keep their most important assets protected.
Author:- Abhishek Kumar ( Regional Director, Southeast Asia, Oncam)