In these days of increased security concerns for your guest it is vital that you have a robust and effective security policy in place. Whether this is to deter the targeting of your guests by terrorists, or to protect them against criminal activity, SecurityCheck effectively addresses all areas of risk. In this podcast, Andy Janes, Group Director of Operations for Intertek Cristal and Intertek Checkpoint talks about SecurityCheck and how it can help your guests feel safer when they travel.
Hello, and welcome to assurance and action Intertek's podcast that discusses key assurance trends and topics. Today's guest is Andy Janes, Group Director of Operations for Intertek Cristal, and Intertek Checkpoint. He's here to talk about SecurityCheck, a n audit program, which focuses on security in hotels. Andy, thank you for being here.Speaker 2:
Thank you. You're very welcome. It's great to be, able to discuss, what is such an important area of risk, which certainly within our industry, and particularly, the SecurityCheck audit program and, j ust a little bit about, t he history of it, w hat it covers, a nd really what we're looking to to try and achieve by conducting, t his audit program globally. So SecurityCheck itself was created back in, in 2017 and was really a response following the incidents that happened in 2015 and to address the lack of security standards within hotels and address the absence of a global standard throughout the industry. And with the main aim being to essentially set that foundation globally was the initial aim, to allow hotels to better protect gues ts, st aff, and property when we are conducting or when we did implement the program. When we roll out the audit programs, the SecurityCheck, process uses experienced and trained security p ress professionals that have extensive operational experience conducting these audits globally in all regions. And that's a really important part of not only security as a whole, but of this audit program, to ensure that we are raising those standards, across the board and throughout the industry. And we really look to highlight, physical and procedural gaps, in the security operations, within the hotels. Some areas, certainly some regions a nd some countries, are more advanced than others. And of course there are those countries, t hat the security operations are really just non-existent. Off the back of th at, we really look to provide structured, re commend r ecommendations, a n d changes, a n d help and support hotels. Not only understand, t h e foundations of security and the importance of identifying ris k, b u t how they can build and further strengthen, t h eir security operations. So they are in a position to be able to pr ovide, t h at level of safety. And of course the du ty of care for all gue st st aff and property, but we also train and coach hotel staff, t o ensure that that knowledge base is there. We're giving them the tools to then go away and really build on their understanding and the security process. So if we look at, I guess, the security audit in a little more detail and exactly what we aim to cover,, there are many different areas of the security operation in a hotel, and we certainly t ry to capture them all and just looking at some of the key points here of course, access control loss prevention of emergency procedures are a very important one., b ut one in which lots of hotels, you know, really only focus on an d, and, you know, forget to put everything else in b ehind that, c hild safeguarding incident response and incident management and of course, post incident investigation. We also touch on cyber security and the fundamentals of that and security doc entation, but we put a lot of effort into reviewing an assessing the security risk assessment and the risk identification process that ha s t aken place. That's always being the starting point of where we start with our audit programs, but also what we've seen globally in most regions, is this is an area that lots of hotels just do not conduct. Therefore what we find is they're building operations, on top of a process that hasn't first identified the risks that affect that particular hotel in that particular region. And we, you know, we really, really look to push that point with all of our hotels and of course provide the knowledge, the training and the awareness behind, you know, just why that first step is so important. So the main aim of this, and certainly when we started was, yes, we understood that security standards were not where they needed to be. And arguably today, you know, we are still a very, very long way from that. And it's fair to say that over the last few years, security has been improving, throughout industry, not at the speed in which it should, but it, nevertheless it has been improving. But what the pandemic has has now caused is, you know, I think a delay in that progression, and of course COVID became from a risk management perspective, became the great distraction for hotels, because of course, you know, if they closed for a long time and when they did open, they, they were fighting to survive and so on. So what we certainly see is very often security and any investment insecurity is the first thing to go when finances are extremely tight. So one of the tasks we are trying to complete at the moment is just trying to understand the damage that that's done and, you know, and how far that has set us back. Most importantly, of course, getting that process started again and really trying to drive the standards forward. And as I mentioned, previously the, the key aim there is really getting that education out and, and the understanding of the importance of the risk assessment process and the identification of security risks. And a good example of this is because we also conduct lots of other risk, audit programs in different areas. You know, when we, the very first question we ask, or, and we sit down with management teams is let's review your current security risk assessment. and a lot of the time, you know, we're faced with, health and safety risk assessments, a and just trying to explain the, the fundamentals, why they're so different and the importance, placed on the hotel, conducting a very thorough security risk assessment. And the biggest challenge here is then of course, explaining, do hotels, why they face security risks and what those look like. In a lot of cases, the response will be, well, you know, that's never happened here, so do we need it? Or that that could never happen here. and just changing that mindset is really important, certainly from an audit perspective, but also if we want to change the way that the industry, sees, you know, thinks about security it's changing that mindset. And really reinforcing the fact that you know first and foremost, there is no country, that is exempt from, from security risk, you know, and be that, a very, very basic, or very extreme, you know, understanding the spectrum, conducting that assessment and then building a robust security plan on top of that, you know, is essential. a nd one of the things we look at is certainly l oss prevention. Of course, they are a business at the end of the day. So we go through all of these processes with them,, all forms of physical assaults,, a nything to do with drugs and alcohol things like child safeguarding, incidents, and procedures, s exual harassment, sexual violence, sexual violence towards women and towards children. And when we talk about these things, of course, it's very easy to sensationalize different areas of s ecurity, but that's really not what this is about. It's trying to educate and give them that knowledge and understanding that they need to be firstly conducting their assessments, but then actively putting control measures in place to try and reduce the risk as much as they possibly can. and when we look back over some of the incidents that have happened within hotels across ov er t he last five years, all of these different areas, you know, very much has precedence within hotels. And that's, you know, of course from petty theft, whether that's internal theft or external theft. So our employees are stealing from the hotel, especially in countries where you have, very, very nice five star establishments, but the surrounding area is economically run down. The individuals working in the hotel when presented with an opportunity and we're not saying, you know, that happens. And all employees would do that. But what we are asking is have you considered that this is a risk, and if so, what procedures have you put in place to try to control that? And when we look at, certainly at any kind of sexual harassment and violence, one of the key questions we ask and the discussions we we have with all hotels in all regions is what procedures do you have in place or have you identified that the risk against lone female travelers, could be a problem. And it's one that really causes quite a long debate in that, going back to the concept of, well, that's never happened. And we do really need to be thinking about that, but actually when you look across the industry as a whole and start to look at incidents that have involved violence against women the n bers really start to stack up, and we've seen some very horrendous cases and quite high profile cases, over the last three years alone. So again, you know, not trying to scare tactic hotels into doing this, but just giving them the understanding that at the very first step conducting that risk identification process and building from there, you know, is, is crucial. And of course, you know, we always end up at the far end or the most extreme end of the spectr, when it comes to security risk. When we start thinking about things like organized crime, h an trafficking, terrorism, or, you know, any act of extreme violence, and then asking, you know, what procedures do we have in place? Do we currently have in place? And that would allow you to react to such an incident, and very often you come across none, because it's never happened before. And it's such a wild thing to be thinking about, that couldn't possibly ever happen here. But unfortunately, over certainly over the last 10 years, there are a n ber of cases and quite a large n ber of cases where, where this has happened. And if we take a moment just to look at, let's say terrorism, of course, you know, we've all seen the global newsworthy events that have happened. Of course what happened in Tunisia, specifically targeting hotels was, was a big changing point. But also if we then look at, at other countries where, you know, they have a very extreme acts of violence, but are a drug related and not necessarily related to terrorism,, and so on. And again, all coming back to just wanting the hotels to understand the risk o n what they should be doing to try to prevent that, especially from a procedural perspective. And if we stick with emergency procedures for a moment, and look at what certainly what the British government were implementing to raise awareness around, emergency procedures within hospitality and within hotels. And that was the run high tell policy. And this was directly aimed at general staff. So in lots of environments, you'll go to hotels, they have security teams, and so on, but very often none of that information or none of those procedures are really filtered down to general staff. So what would you do, what would your be your role in this scenario? And the run hotel policy was just a very, simple process that would encourage general staff to at least do something. If they weren't happy about you know, particular scenario that was playing out, or they're unsure about something to tell someone forcing them into some kind of action. So that's a good example of, you know, a general awareness program being rolled out. And that's what we're really looking to do with, with security, but on a much wider and a more in depth scale targeting, not only the management team, but also the security team, and also the general staff and really focusing on training awareness and understanding, and of course the policies and the procedures being fully implemented to support all of that. That's where SecurityCheck, really comes into its own. It's a very in d epth process that looks to, draw out all of that information, but what's important about this. And certainly for for all of my security auditors that conduct these audits is it's not a policing exercise. And if it were, you know, it'd be very difficult to continue to raise those standards. So, you know, we've very much m ix the, yes, of course, identifying the defects and making it very, very clear that this needs improving, but then also providing the clear recommendations of how they can go about doing that., y ou know, whether that's utilizing existing assets, t o m aximize, t heir capability, or indeed if it requires investment, an d how they should approach that, w hat they should be looking for. And again, all with the very clear aim to continually raise security standards, a cross the industry., and if we're being completely honest, and as I mentioned at the beginning we a re not there yet. And the industry's not there yet, and there's a long way to go. And it's just getting that uniformed process in place. As I also mentioned, there are some very, very good countries that, you know, really take this seriously, and have very, very clear processes in place. And then there are those, you know, that are very much in the middle. They have, processes, they have security staff perhaps, or equipment, but don't really, haven't really connected the dots and it's not a fully integrated system. So they're very much the in between and not utilizing what they have or fully understanding how to implement a security operation. And then there are those that, you know, very much live by this is a very safe country. We don't need security here. You know, we don't need security staff, which never happened. So, you know, we are good and that's the mindset that's, you know, the really challenging part of this that we really want to change., and hopefully now the world i s, is opening up again. W e can very much get back to global travel and to, to p ushing the security audit fa r a nd wide, a nd, and really, really pushing the need and the education behind security and, you know, wh at a r e t he key conversations th at I always have wi th, general managers in, in all hotels I go to is f irstly, you know, stating a v ery simple fact that no country is free from security risk. And, yo u k now, it's just very true, y ou know, an d w hether that's, yo u k n ow, very, very simple form or of criminality or whether it's an extreme risk such as, g u n related violence or indeed terrorism, and most importantly, really putting the poi nt ac ross it, just because something has never happened, that doesn't mean that it can be ru led out and doesn't mean that it should not be at least considered in the risk assessment process. And this is the key challenge because very often, if there is no precedence, then it, you know, it'll very quickly be forgotten. So, you know, that's very much one hurdle that we're really looking to overcome certainly over, over the next year or so as, as we really start to get back to some kind of normality, but also reinforcing, especially with security managers or indeed if the hotel does not have a dedicated security manager, the individual responsible for security, that security risk is ever changing and procedures,, policies, all of their processes have to be continually reviewed, and updated and should not be left stagnant for any period of time t hat we've certainly seen i t in some cases where a group w ide policy implemented 10 years ago covering nine, very different countries was, was still the only operational security procedure in place. And that just doesn't work, and really kind of reinforcing that with the management teams and helping them understand how they can implement their site specific processes and marry that up with the corporate w ide, processes, has been a particular challenge. And I guess one of the, you know, one of the most difficult conversations, especially when you are discussing this with department managers and general staff is some areas are of security are difficult to discuss, especially when we are looking at emergency procedures. and putting that across in the correct way, but reinforcing the fact that it still needs to be considered no matter how difficult conversation it is. And it still needs to be included in the risk assessment. And you must have, very clear policies in place on certainly how, the hotel would react and respond to, to such an incident. And finally, you know, certainly across lots of European countries, we, we come across hotels that do not have security teams, you know, and that's absolutely fine, but you know, what we do say to them is, you know, just because you do not have a security team, you know, it does not mean that you do not have a responsibility or a duty of care to provide safe and secure environment for your guests, because regardless of whether a hotel sees the need or not, again, you know, there is plenty of precedence across these countries where security incidents have happened, and very specifically within hotels. it's a very much an education piece and really driving that message forward, and SecurityCheck very much looks to do all of that and more, and yes, of course, you know, we do have a minimum standard, a n d grading tha t al l hotels must pass to be certified, w i th the SecurityCheck, c e r t ification. b ut even if they do pass, we always look to, you know, follow u p,, a nd support,, an d assist all of our clients in driving their security operations forward as, much as possible., a nd hopefully,now we are coming out the back of the pan demic and hopefully the industry is getting back on its feet and budgets, getting back where they need to be, th a t investment will continue to be pushed in the security direction, as well as all other area s of risk. and we, you know, we start to see those standards climbing back up t o w here they need to be. So it's gonna be a very interesting, yea r or so ahead. and hopefully SecurityCheck will play a very big part in aiding,, and h el ping certainly all of our clients, and th e industry, as a w h ole, raise t he standard, across the board.Speaker 1:
Thank you so much. and, thank everyone for listening. please follow us and like us on Twitter and LinkedIn, the links of which, are in the description of this podcast. thank you and have a great day.