Keeping hotel secure and guests happy

Sofitel So security manager Jasni Taha explained how his hotel balances keeping guests pampered and ensuring maximum security at the Robinson Road hotel.
Sofitel So security manager Jasni Taha explained how his hotel balances keeping guests pampered and ensuring maximum security at the Robinson Road hotel.ST PHOTO: JONATHAN CHOO
Some 200 participants from the hotel industry yesterday attended the Hotel Industry Safety and Security Watch Group's counter-terrorism seminar organised by the police and the Singapore Civil Defence Force.
Some 200 participants from the hotel industry yesterday attended the Hotel Industry Safety and Security Watch Group's counter-terrorism seminar organised by the police and the Singapore Civil Defence Force.ST PHOTO: JONATHAN CHOO

Front-line and backroom staff of Sofitel So trained to spot suspicious behaviour

Beyond their usual scope of duties, French luxury hotel Sofitel So staff are trained to be eagle-eyed to possible signs of a terror attack.

This includes spotting suspicious behaviour by their guests and keeping an eye on those who pay cash and refuse to give their credit-card details or provide identification.

Four times a year, the hotel collaborates with the police to conduct safety training for its staff. These sessions range from an hour for departments such as food and beverage to two days for front-line staff, who interact more with customers.

Mr Jasni Taha, security manager at Sofitel So, said: "We want to pamper our guests and allow for their maximum convenience. However, we also want to ensure the maximum security of the hotel."

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Among its other measures, the Robinson Road hotel has also secured all its portable credit-card terminals with anti-tamper stickers to prevent skimming and hacking.

Ms Sim Ann, Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry, and Culture, Community and Youth, said yesterday that with hotels being hit by terror attacks all over the world, Singapore hotels must keep up to date with the latest security technology and developments to enhance safety.

She was delivering the opening address at the Hotel Industry Safety and Security Watch Group's counter-terrorism seminar.

"Each year, 200 million passengers pass through our borders. We cannot be sure none of them harbours ill-intentions towards our safety and security," said Ms Sim.

Some 200 participants from the hotel industry attended the seminar, which is in its ninth run.

Citing terror attacks in recent years on hotels in Jakarta and Somalia, Ms Sim said: "We count ourselves fortunate that such attacks have not taken place in Singapore. But we cannot assume that they will never happen here."

STAYING VIGILANT

Each year, 200 million passengers pass through our borders. We cannot be sure none of them harbours ill-intentions towards our safety and security.

MS SIM ANN, Senior Minister of State for Trade and Industry, and Culture, Community and Youth. 

Ms Margaret Heng, executive director of the Singapore Hotel Association, said: "In today's heightened security environment, where no country is immune to terrorist attacks, the hotel industry is playing its part in the SGSecure movement by being vigilant.

"In addition to hardening their premises, hotels are also looking at training and putting in place processes to strengthen their defence against terrorism."

BUILDING STRONGER DEFENCES

In addition to hardening their premises, hotels are also looking at training and putting in place processes to strengthen their defence against terrorism.

MS MARGARET HENG, executive director of the Singapore Hotel Association.

SGSecure seeks to sensitise, train and mobilise Singaporeans in preventing terrorism and dealing with its aftermath.

Mr Eddie Goh, the fire safety and security manager at Hotel Royal, said: "The greatest challenge is knowing how to resume operations in the aftermath of a terror attack."

WHAT'S IMPORTANT

The greatest challenge is knowing how to resume operations in the aftermath of a terror attack.

MR EDDIE GOH, fire safety and security manager at Hotel Royal.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 20, 2017, with the headline 'Keeping hotel secure and guests happy'. Print Edition | Subscribe