How Women Can Stay Safer in Their Hotel Rooms
Keeping yourself safe in your hotel room is a matter of practicing common sense, being aware of your surroundings, and staying proactive. One can easily fall into a false sense of security when staying at a hotel and that is ok most of the time however, like everywhere else you go or stay (like even your own home), you need to be smart, trust your gut feelings, and take certain precautions.
First, place the Do Not Disturb sign on the outside door handle. Next close the door and ensure you hear the door close completely. Next, use the dead bolt, double lock and/or chain the door. Never forget to do this.
Now, if there is a knock on the door, look through the peephole to get a good look at the
person. Do NOT open the door simply because you see a uniformed “employee.” Anybody can buy a work shirt with a name sewed onto it and impersonate an employee. Instead, tell the person you didn’t call for an engineer…housekeeper…order room service, etc. People can be very brazen, especially when they are focused on what they want and have a lifetime of experience taking advantage of others.
Whether the person is an employee or not makes no difference at this point. If you placed that DND sign on the outside door handle and an employee knocks on your door, you can be assured that employee will be suspended or at least written up for knocking on a door with a DND on it. So even if they are pounding on the door claiming there’s an emergency (flood, water main break,etc) and they need to get in, refuse to open until you do at least one of these two things (obviously if there is water coming through the ceiling or your carpet is wet, there’s a very good chance there is a real emergency.)
Ask the person his/her name and department they work in, then tell them you’ll be right back. Go to the phone and call the front desk, ask them if they have an employee by the name of, “____” who works in the “_______” department and why is s/he knocking on your door when you indicated you did not want to be disturbed? At that point, they’ll either apologize or tell you they don’t have a “___” that works there. The scenario will play out from there.You can tell the person to call the front desk on their radio and have the front desk call you. Verify from there.
These two steps should be obvious…. Make sure the door is shut closed and use the double lock.
When I traveled to resorts as a QA Auditor, one of the things I checked for was opening the door and letting it go. The door needed to close all the way to shut closed, without assistance, to pass. Hotels that don’t check the automatic door closer regularly leave their guests vulnerable to assault or theft. I used to have my overnight security people walk the corridors twice a night and push guest room doors to insure they didn’t open.
Guests who do not double lock their doors leave themselves vulnerable to opportunists and hotel staff errors. Front desk agents have been known to double rent a room or hand a key to a guest who lost their key, told the agent the wrong room number and made a new key without verifying name and guest room number. Even staff will walk right into a room without knocking or knock as they walk in because they think the room was vacant.
Now we’ve covered the front door but how about the back door! If your guest room has a patio or balcony, WATCH OUT! Guests who leave the patio door unlocked or sleep with only the screen door closed, are putting themselves at risk. And you don’t want to forget windows. Insure they are locked. Any door or window that will not lock should be addressed immediately with the Front Desk. (as a QA Auditor, the very first thing checked during an audit is the patio door to insure it is locked.)
One other thing should be mentioned. Never say your room number out loud. In hotels were the front desk staff are trained properly, one of the first lessons learned is to never tell the guest their room assignment at checkin. The number should be written on a key packet and referenced to while the guest is still with the agent. Here’s why a room number should never be mentioned out loud.
Let’s say you mention your room number loudly enough for others to hear when you’re at the restaurant, front desk, or bar. Then you go to your room, hang your DND sign on the door, open the patio door so you can hear those waves pounding the shore. An hour later, the guy who was hitting on you at the bar has had more to drink and decides you were cute and playing hard to get. He goes to the front desk and in his most sincere tone, asks for a key to room number xxx, that’s your room. Acting even more embarrassed, he says he left his wallet in the room and BEGS the desk agent to not wake you up by calling the room. “She’ll be so angry at me! And she already had a bad headache.” So he does a perfect job of describing you. Did you tell him where you’re from? Maybe he learned where you’re from during the conversation at the bar. “Sure. That can happen” thinks the intimidated desk clerk, and she hands the guy a key. He heads up to your room and because you didn’t double lock the door (or close the patio door), he steps inside…
The chances of such a scenario might be slim, but the chances of any of us getting into a car accident, a plane crash, having our house on fire, etc is slim. They still happen and could happen at any random time. So why take chances? Double bolt your room door, lock your patio door, and never say your room number out loud. Now you can relax, take your shoes off, soak in the tub, or take a nap (but did you check the patio door first??)