The worldwide economic impact of COVID-19 raises new issues for travelers staying in hotels as travel resumes. Not only is there a general risk of increased crime, civil unrest and political instability that is likely to be present as travel resumes, but there may be some direct issues that impact the safety of hotel stays.
The world economy has suffered as a result of Coronavirus, and the hospitality sector has been no exception. In fact, there are many indications that it was particularly hard hit due to the virtual elimination of business and leisure travel. This has a number of downline implications that will have an effect, at least into the near to mid-term:
Hotels, including major chains, are laying off staff. This includes security personnel. One major chain that will go unmentioned here, has significantly reduced their two top tiers of security management personnel. This means that the leadership that effectively makes the significant decisions about the company’s security program is gone. This will undoubtedly impact quality assurance throughout the chain. While many local security managers may remain in place, there will be little oversight or control.
Included in these layoffs, are numerous hotel line employees around the world. In many developing countries, these former employees are entering an economy with no jobs and very little opportunity. The result in a potential insider threat situation. Redundant staff, while no longer true “insiders”, have insider knowledge of the hotel, its procedures, its weak-points and vulnerabilities. They can exploit this knowledge to carry out criminal acts or assist others in doing so. Most former hotel employees are honest and would not do this, but some will. It only takes a few to create a real threat to travelers.
Reduced staff at some hotels will mean that existing employees are potentially overextended. Smaller hotel guard forces can mean less patrols. Limited budgets can mean less maintenance or missed upgrades for security equipment
Economic downturn in many countries will coincide with rising crime. Neighborhoods that were previously considered safe or relatively secure, may no longer be the same.
What does all this mean? For companies with business travelers and individual travelers themselves, there is now a need to reassess the hotels that you plan to use. Old assessments and past experience may no longer be valid in the face of these changes. Travelers need to be aware of these new risks and need to be more aware and more resourceful, and ultimately more responsible for their own security.