A few years ago, I was a receptionist at a hotel for about a year and a half. I want to give you my advice on how to stay safe and feel secure while staying at a hotel. There are things the most receptionists should be trained on regarding guests' personal information as well as safety, but it's up to your to really be in charge of your own safety. It's always better to at least consider the options when you're traveling and know what to do to protect yourself. Here are my tops things to remember when you're booking a hotel for your next vacation!
This post will mostly be for HOTELS IN THE UNITED STATES, NOT INTERNATIONAL
<<<BOOKING A ROOM>>>
Learn as much as you can about the hotel you book before you get there. Hotel websites will usually give you prices, amenities, reviews and other miscellaneous information that would be great to read through. It might be wise to even research the city you're staying in. Are there problems with crime or even crime against tourists? You can always call the hotel directly and speak to a receptionist for any other questions. You'll get first hand information about the hotel, plus you could ask questions like...
- Do you have security cameras or a security guard 24/7?
- Can I have room away from vending machines and any elevators? Can I have a room near the top floor? (This may or may not be possible. Hotels usually don't pick the room you'll be in until the moment you check in. There's a chance that the previous guests will either ask for an late check out or they might even want to extend their stay. Depending on how popular/busy a hotel is on a given day, they wouldn't be able to guarantee a specific room. They could possibly be able to guarantee you a floor, but that just depends on the hotel. Sometimes the safest rooms are next to elevator, depending on the layout, so decide what's important to you)
- Do your rooms have dead bolt locks and/or peep holes?
- Do your rooms have safes? It's always wise to put anything valuable in the safe provided while you are away. You could always leave important things with the front desk as well.
- Keep a close eye on your luggage. When the lobby is busy that there may be someone trying to sneak a moment you're not looking and steal your belongings. Try and lean your suitcase on your leg so if someone tries to move it, you'll feel it.
- Ask the receptionist to SHOW you your room not TELL you your room. There may be someone stalking the place, waiting for guests to leave their room which gives them an opportunity to steal your belongings while you're away. Keep your room number private. If the receptionist ends up announcing it, politely ask to be moved to a different room and remind them to show you the rather than tell you.
- Don't leave your credit card out in the open. Make sure that when the receptionist hands it back, that the card is indeed yours.
<<<DURING YOUR STAY>>>
- Check all the locks. The windows, the doors, the adjoining doors, everything! You never know if the previous guests or housekeeping maybe opened the window earlier that day. Always double check.
- Identify a fire escape route and plan emergency scenarios. Locate where the nearest stairwells, elevators and emergency exits are.
- Keep the doors locked at all times. It's a good habit to get into while traveling. Secure the door with the deadbolt or security chains (or both) while you're in the room.
- When someone comes knocking at your door unannounced, never answer the door. Call down to the front desk to verify the person and reason for knocking. You can always use the peep holes as well if it applies.
- Never EVER give your credit card information over the phone. Hotels are a big target for sleazy phone scammers. If there is someone on the phone saying they're from the front desk and that they're having trouble authorizing your credit card, they may be scammers trying to get your money. Tell them that you'll come down to the office and speak with them face-to-face.
- Keep your wallet, cell-phone, and room key close at hand. On the chance that you'd need to leave in a hurry, keep these things close yet out of plain site. Consider packing a flashlight too.
- Put the "Do Not Disturb" sign on your door when you're away. You could also consider leaving the T.V. on or the radio to make potential thieves think you're in the room. You can also leave the sign on there at all times whether you're in the room or not.
- Put your valuables in the room's safe when you are not there.
- Check your surroundings before entering your room. You never know if someone is watching you, trying to get in. Be aware of your surroundings. If someone suspicious is near your room, walk past your door and don't return until it's clear; and definitely do NOT enter your room if your door is unlocked.
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