Hotel security: the outsourcing dilemma

Changing teams and lack of experience are key concerns

Panellists at the Safety and Security Summit.
Panellists at the Safety and Security Summit.

Panellists at the Hotelier Middle East Safety and Security were unanimous in their opinion about hiring outsourced staff for the security department.

Hilton Worldwide MEA security director Mohamed Suliman said: “I'm totally against outsourcing. When you hire your own security team, you know who you hire, you know what you're training for, you know what to expect out of them, and you will have somebody who is dedicated to your operation, to your hotel, to your guests, to your team members.”

“With outsourcing, some groups will send you a team, and then a few days later they’ll send you a different team, and you have to train them all over again and this keeps happening. It’s just a waste of time when you've already trained people and then you have to do it all over again,” he lamented.

Jumeirah Group director of health and safety Craig Cunningham revealed the operator only used outsourced staff for the perimeter of the hotels.

Explaining the strategy, he said: "Virtually all the security at Jumeirah is in-house. We have very limited external security on the perimeter of the properties. So all the guest interface is with the in-house security and that’s much better in terms of consistency of quality and standards.

"You have people who are culturally tuned to the organisation. We have repeat guests who seek out many of the security people, who they were friendly with when they first visited. Dubai is a very safe and friendly place to visit and we want our guests to feel safe and secure within our premises.”

Cunningham also pointed out that having an in-house team works better when dealing with authorities on a regular basis. “Another crucial thing is the interface with authorities. We have regular visits from the authorities and it’s great that they continue to see the same people, the same people who are growing within the role and provide the same response to the authorities when an issue arises,” he said.

Golden Tulip Al Barsha general manager and regional revenue director Tarek Lotfy said the hotel has implemented daily briefings with outsourced staff in order to ensure the security team adheres to the hotel’s service standards, which also helps deal with the issue of outsource teams constantly changing.

“We do a daily briefing with the security by someone from the front of house team or quality control to train them on what is expected in the hospitality industry. Sometimes, security companies move individuals from one location to another – it could be from a mall to a factory or a warehouse, and then maybe back in a hotel to cover the shortage. So they are not always aware of how to behave in a hospitality setting and how to deal with guests, and we try as much as possible to have trainings with the security companies whether they are outsourced or in-house,” he explained.

The Hotelier Middle East Safety and Security Summit was held on June 17 at The Ritz-Carlton DIFC, and was sponsored by Arecont Vision, VingCard Elsafe, World Security and Meat & Livestock Australia.

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