The changing landscape within the hospitality industry is creating a significant shift in priorities for hotel owners and security leaders. Evolving risks, including those related to cyber security, liability, compliance, and guest safety, propel the need for security strategies that should be integrated with a hotel’s overall business strategy.
The fact that the hotel environment faces more challenges than ever requires innovators to make the extra effort to gain a better understanding of the needs of this market. At the same time, it’s incredibly important to understand both the challenges today’s hotel security professionals face, as well as how the adoption and use of technology can best address them.
In today’s connected world, there are numerous opportunities to use technology to enhance business, increase safety and significantly improve the guest experience. The role of the security function within hotels is well-established, but continuously changing. Although security started mainly as a loss prevention function focused on reducing theft and loss, it has broadened to include protection from several threats ranging from fraud, theft, and malfeasance to employee misconduct, terrorism, and response to major events including natural and man-made disasters.
Technology plays a key role in the effectiveness of the security function, especially since electronic physical security systems – which used to be standalone devices that could not connect with other systems or networks without complex integration – now reside on the corporate network. The convergence of IT and physical security solutions enables advanced networked communication and brings together what were previously distinct and disparate corporate functions. This change has also impacted the use of video, extending it to use cases beyond security and safety.
Basic business operations can be enhanced using video surveillance, and hotels can gain even enhanced levels of awareness and insight with 360-degree cameras. Examples include optimizing personnel allocation, improving guest services, monitoring employee engagement; contributing to a better guest experience by gaining insight into what drives or deters guests; protecting brand integrity; monitoring compliance; and mitigating insider threats such as employee theft and workplace violence. The use cases are just starting to be developed and the possibilities are endless.
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.
And it is these new use cases that provide an opportunity to leverage the investment on security technology across different departments, including business operations, legal and marketing. The capital investment in 360-degree video technology then becomes more widely distributed as more departments utilize the information, going from a required purchase to a “Swiss Army Knife” of operational benefits.
For example, analytics could provide additional functionalities which could be used to evaluate traffic and people flow and ultimately understand how guests use the space. This would be helpful in a busy restaurant or check-in area to identify and address a bottleneck. There is an opportunity to convince business leaders that there is a future use for panoramic video data, but to take advantage of that platform there must be a change a mentality and a deeply embedded culture as far as security and use of technology goes.
Another example of the value of 360-degree video is focused on elevating the guest experience. Guests that are frequent visitors often create a profile that allows the hotel to tailor their experience to each guest. Video can be a powerful tool to help hotels understand VIP behavior and trends while analytics can look at how guests navigate the hotel lobby and common areas to determine how marketing and advertising can best engage with each person.
While security and safety is a primary concern for guests, they do not necessarily want to be reminded of it at every turn. When interior design and aesthetics are a necessity, it is important to deploy cameras that can blend seamlessly into any environment. Low-profile 360-degree cameras have small form factors and can be discreetly installed, with housings painted to match any color scheme. Not only do 360-degree cameras easily adapt to changing aesthetic requirements, they also provide high-quality, unobstructed images without overshadowing elements of interior design.
While panoramic video is turning into a critical tool for operational purposes, its primary use continues to be on ensuring the safety and security of the facilities, employees, and guests. Hotel security leaders can help enhance safety parameters by stressing the importance of implementing a comprehensive video solution, which can not only prevent and provide investigative support but also reduce insurance premiums and increase business. It is also critical that 360-degree 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, as manpower is still a challenge for smaller hotels.
The hotel industry is committed to delivering high levels of security and safety, integrating technologies together and enhancing business operations. Deploying best practices for implementing new and emerging technology can help hotel security professionals achieve these goals and build continuity within their organizations.
Therese Hume is the Strategic Partner Director at Oncam, where she is the conduit between our global strategic partners and all internal stakeholders, the main glue that works daily to integrate our business objectives with those of our key partners. She ensures communication and activities between Oncam and our partners are all geared towards financial growth and heightened brand awareness for our business and its products. Her knowledge base has been built over a 15-year career covering diverse roles including operations, project management, sales and marketing in sectors such as security, education, retail, entertainment and hospitality.
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