Perceptions of Security and Guest Hotel Selection- Part 2
Hotel security and safety is one of the most essential elements in the concerns of most travelers. Most of the travelers in the world usually have to worry about being crime victims while they are away from home. One only has to review and look at the negative effects on hotel booking when a tourist attacks happens and is publicized to see how essential the perceptions of security is to the hotel guests. When they have a choice, hotel guests will always look for hotels that have superior security provisions. Initially, most guests and travelers would choose a hotel that satisfies their balance and criteria of price, location and food service. However, after visiting the hotel, its security amenities might determine the continued loyalty of the guests (Shanahan and Hyman 107- 118).
According to a survey conducted recently, the primary chance to present a constructive notion about the standard security and safety of a hotel is usually at its perimeter. For maximum efficiency and effectiveness, the study indicated that there has to be an obvious and notable design transition as guests enter the hotel from the outside. Solid and visible deterrent cues include essential barriers like decorative fencing, perimeter walls, landscaped terraces and well- defined main entrance and driveway. According to the guests of a number of hotels, a strong transition sends a quiet but strong message to criminals that such a hotel is private property and that it is put aside for the private use of the guests only (Shanahan and Hyman 107- 118).
According to other guests interviewed in the study, excellent exterior lighting should be designed to fill the gap between the boundary of the hotel and its entrance, and it is the most significant security amenity during the night. When bathed with light, public areas are both a powerful deterrent to crime and inviting to travelers and guests. Excellent exterior lighting allows guests to identify potential threats if there are any. This is a minimum level of visibility that offers guests enough time to respond to the threat before it confronts them. Guests indicated that they would choose a hotel that had balanced and even lighting. Lighting that is balanced appears comfortable and warm, and as they argued, makes the hotel feel safe and secure (Shanahan and Hyman 107- 118).
The study also looked at the perceptions of the hotel guests and travelers on security most hotels offer in their parking lots. The study pointed out that security at most hotel parking lots is the most overlooked and underestimated area on hotels. Crimes by strangers against guest were found to be more apt to occur in the parking lots than any other places in hotels. This was found to be because parking lots offer criminals the best places to hide, with few witnesses and with the quickest routes for escaping. Parking lot surveillance is relatively cheap as one only needs to install a video camera, or even visible uniformed security personnel that are capable of responding rapidly to a crime and sermon for help (Shanahan and Hyman 107- 118).
Hotel guests implied that they would be more comfortable checking into hotels with a live person on the job that is hires to look out for their safety and security. Guests indicated that they would feel safer in hotels that had highly visible valet parking and door attendants as these two security amenities worked excellently as a crime deterrent. Guests felt that nothing instills in them more confidence in a hotel than a capable door attendant who makes eye contact with them and greets them as they enter hotels. Criminals do not like door attendants, as they fear that they will be identified as trespassers. Guests argued that without curbside security that is competent and capable, crimes like car theft, purse snatches and luggage thefts would increase more significantly in most hotels, and, therefore, they would rather choose those hotels that had excellent curbside security (Shanahan and Hyman 107- 118).
In addition to physical barriers, the study also found that access control also is essential in hotel guests’ decisions in selecting hotels. Access control involves the use of personnel, electronic equipment and procedures to make the property safe and secure. For instance, the whole of a hotel’s staff should be trained to be attentive to all reports of suspicious activity and to all suspicious persons and report suspicions to the manager. Most of the hotel guests interviewed in this study indicated that they love this high level of staff attentiveness and courtesy, and they were positive that criminals did not like it at all. Hotel criminals prefer to remain anonymous and unnoticed. A number of staff contacts will make them feel unsecure and uncomfortable, and in most cases, this is usually enough to make them leave hotel guests alone (Shanahan and Hyman 107- 118).
Guestroom security is another security feature most guests looked at while making decisions as to which hotel they would stay. The guestroom represents the inner circle of the security plan of a hotel. Hotel guests treat the guestroom as their sanctuary, and they expect to be safe in their rooms. The guestroom windows and doors have to be fortified to deter criminals from accessing entry into the rooms. Hotel guests implied that they preferred hotels rooms that had these basic security amenities and that they would feel more comfortable in hotel rooms with doors that were made of solid metal or wood, and those doors that were self- locking and self- closing (Wuest 77- 93). According to the guests, the locks on the door must have a deadbolt of high quality with at least a bolt of one inch. The strike plate of the lock must be securely bolted to a metal doorframe or by making use of screws of three inches when attached to a doorjamb. In addition to this, guests found hotels with accessible sliding widows with secondary devices attached to them to prevent forced entry more appealing as opposed to those windows without.
The study predicted that the demand for hotels that promote and ensure enhanced security would increase in the coming years especially with the increase concern and fear about terrorism all over the world. The researchers pointed out that security amenities are more essential to travelers, especially those elderly people and women travelling by themselves. The study predicts that only those hotels that are more conscious to the security and safety of guests staying in their property will gain more advantage over those hotels that fail to acknowledge and recognize the need for this new trend (Shanahan and Hyman 107- 118).
Another study carried out in 1999 identifies the perceptions of travelers and hotel guests of quality of services and security facilities among the three hotel categories in most parts of the world. High Tariff A, B and Medium Tariff hotels. The study came up with seven hotel elements using a factor analysis procedure from 33 hotel attributes identified by a number of hotel guests. These seven hotel elements were IDD and security facilities, room quality, staff service quality, general amenities, value and business service. Results of the study showed that the ranking of these seven hotel elements was considerably distinct in the three categories of hotels. The mean ratings of travelers of their perceptions of hotel elements increased positively according to the higher category of the hotel (Choi and Chu 176-189).
The findings of the study are typical, in the sense that when hotel guests pay more, they expect to get better and higher quality services. The three most essential hotel elements perceived by the guests of the High Tariff A hotel category and the High Tariff B hotel category included staff service quality, security and room quality. However, the topmost priority for those guests staying at Medium Tariff hotel category was security. Guests found it difficult to live in hotel rooms that did not provide them with enough provisions for safety and security. Whichever, category or rank of hotels the guests were staying, they all had one thing in common, and that is they only chose to stay in a hotel because it had superior security amenities as compared to another hotel of the same rank or category (Choi and Chu 176-189).
Another set of researchers carried out a study in 2002 to find the distinctions that subsist between the views of accommodation management and the views of potential hotel guests when it comes to the elements that influence the selection of accommodation in hotels by hotel guests. The researchers also wanted to demonstrate the close similarities in the elements that potential hotel guests indicated as essential with previous research like cleanliness of the hotel rooms and the safety of the environment as some of the most essential factors. According to the results of the study, one can generally state that managers rate those items and elements that they have daily working influence on more highly that possible hotel guests, who rate the actual hotel and its amenities more highly. In addition to this, there were also some certain needs of female guests like security and safety while for male guests there were other elements of significance like flexible hours of walking into the hotel, and of opening (Lockyer 294- 300).
The acknowledgement of these elements helps with the process of planning for resources and other amenities to maintain or attract these groups of hotel guests. Differences between the management and the hotel guests is also reflected in the results of the study where for the accommodation management there is a reliable relationship between price, location, staff and facility. On the part of the hotel guest, there is a strong relationship between safety, location, friendly, restaurant and service. In addition, the potential hotel guests have associations between clean and price, money and value, indicating an awareness of the value and cost of the hotel accommodation. The question that aurally arises has to do with the reasons behind the differences between the potential hotel guest and accommodation management (Lockyer 294- 300).
According to the study, some answers may come from considering the kind of duties accommodation management assume, which in most cases, involve constant attention to the average room rate and occupancy rate using yield management, and working together with the rest of the stuff. As a result, these elements are salient to the duties accomplished by accommodation managers. According to the researchers, saliency is a term used to refer to the fact that not all of the beliefs of a man stand out or are unique with equal prominence in the man’s cognitive field. Such a person may be more acutely away of some specific beliefs than others may, such believes might enter his thoughts readily and might be verbalized more frequently by the individual, and they are, therefore, salient (Lockyer 294- 300).
The study, therefore, suggests that saliency has an influence or effect of the elements that accommodation management feels are more critical. The study does not indicate that there is a less understanding of the needs of hotel guests by management, but rather that their concentration may be overly directed most of the times and that additional time spent in examining the needs of their guests can help motivate the operation more in the proper direction. Therefore, as a natural consequence of the involvement of managers with daily activities with certain areas of accommodation, it is their belief that certain elements are more critical to hotel guests than the guests themselves show. This brings about an essential question, one that cannot be solved by simply arguing that one is right and the other is not. However, accommodation management should carefully consider the results of the study and evaluate their views according to the researchers (Lockyer 294- 300).
As the researchers argue, at certain stages of the guest selection and purchase decision of accommodation certain elements may prove to be more essential than others are. For instance, the first contact by a potential guest is when they contact a possible hotel and enquire about price, and availability. As this is usually the first contact between a potential guest and the hotel, there usually is a temptation to assume that this is for the most part the vital item to the potential guest. Nevertheless, by the time of the guest makes that contact they might have made many more other considerations. The accommodation management needs to ask the question of where they are investing their resources, and whether the hotel is utilizing the resources of the guest to the best of the guest’s advantage. This study implies that there is a significant misunderstanding by most hotel management as to the needs of their guests, and that careful consideration has to be taken before simply assuming what elements influence potential guests best (Lockyer 294- 300).
Another study carried out to determine which attributes affected accommodation decisions in guests indicated that security scored the top marks as rated by leisure guests and travelers in making decisions about which hotels to stay in followed by front and room desks and the quality of service. Leisure guests and travelers gave a higher mean significance score on the security element than their business counterparts. In fact, security and safety were reported to be one of the key concerns of leisure guests and travelers when patronizing a hotel. This study conducted a survey on 210 businesswomen hotel guests and travelers who indicated that for this market segment, safety and security was their key concern, for example, security chains, peepholes, and training front office employees not to give out the room numbers of the hotel’s guests (Tunstall 26- 40).
Choi, Tat and Chu, Raymond. ‘Consumer perceptions of the quality of services in three hotel categories in Hong Kong.’ Journal of Vacation Marketing 5. 2 (1999): 176- 189. Print.
Lockyer, Tim. ‘Business guests’ accommodation selection: the view from both sides.’ International Journal of Contemporary Hospitality 14.6 (2002): 294- 300. Print.
Shanahan, Kevin and Hyman, Michael. ‘An exploratory study of desired hotel attributes for American tourists vacationing in China and Ireland.’ Journal of Vacation Marketing 13. 2 (2007): 107- 118. Print.
Tunstall, R., ‘Hotels’ Accommodation-catering for the Female Business Travelers.’ E.I.U. Travel & Tourism Analyst, 5 (1989): 26-40. Print.
Wuest, S., Tas, F., Emenheiser, A. ‘What do mature travelers perceive as important hotel/motel customer service?’ Hospitality Research Journal 20. 2 (1996): 77- 93. Print.