Theft in hotels is quite common. Sometimes, the guests hoard amenities from the room or staff members sneak out guests’ valuables in their absence.
If you are facing the same issue, here’s the blog you need to read. Today, I’ll guide you on theft in hotels and countermeasures you can take to reduce them.
How does theft happen in hotels?
There can be various suspects in a heist; in hotels there are 3 prominent ones:
I’m sure you might have come across situations where guests have stolen amenities like:
- Electric appliances
In an article published by CNN, Mr William Serbin, the CEO of Smartlinen stated that,
On average, hotels experience a loss of about 5-20% of linen in any given month, and it amplifies annually.
The damage caused can be ginormous if they are expensive items.
Often, guests tend to misplace their valuables, which are later found by the staff.
They are updated in lost and found records before being returned to their respective owners. It’s possible for the hotel staff to attempt larceny when an opportunity presents itself.
Some common guest items that the hotel staff can embezzle are money, credit cards, jewellery, clothes, and electronic gadgets.
In fact, in many cases, members are caught stealing money from the cash counters, crockery or food, liquor, and other essentials.
Vendors or people visiting the in-house guests are also suspects in case of any hotel theft. For instance, the person delivering your hotel’s linen can sneak out amenities along with the dirty laundry.
Visitors of the guests are also capable of pulling such heists, owing to poor security at property exits. Guests with scanty baggage or no luggage can smuggle luxury items out of the property with the help of visitors.
How to handle theft in hotels?
If a theft is reported at your property, use a step-by-step process to deal with it. Here’s a case study for your understanding.
Let’s say, guests are waiting at the front desk to check out. As per the protocol, a housekeeping staff would inspect their room for minibar consumptions, guest belongings, and amenities. During this check, the staff finds an iPad missing from their room.
In such cases, don’t rush to a conclusion. As the first step, ask the staff personnel to inspect the room again. If he/she still cannot find it, check with guests for the same.
In case they deny, contact the housekeeping supervisor, as they have a record of unavailable amenities in the rooms. Take appropriate action based on the information the supervisor provides.
If it’s a theft, confront the guests and staff members who visited the room. Search guests’ luggage if the need arises. If the guests are at fault, first give them a warning. However, if the same is repeated, penalise and blacklist them from your property. And, if the culprit is any staff member, take disciplinary action against him/her as per the hotel’s policies.
How to reduce theft in hotels?
Now that you are aware of the causes and ways of dealing with hotel thefts, let’s learn how you can eliminate them.
Comprehensive room check before guests’ checkout
Though examining rooms right before guest checkout is crucial, hotels tend to skip it during bulk check-outs.
But, do NOT miss that step at any cost.
Ensure that every room is checked comprehensively. Request your guest to wait for a while until you get an affirmative response from the housekeeping team. This will help you in a long way to avoid losses from thefts and unfounded claims.
Although your staff might be familiar with all the room amenities, provide them with a checklist that can help in thorough checking.
Make use of technology
It’s the 21st century and technology has solutions to every problem. Security is one of them.
Today, various anti-theft devices are available in the market that can be installed on your property. RFID (Radio Frequency Identification) based equipment is best among those.
Here’s an incredible example of this technology.
‘FRESH’, an organisation headquartered in Chicago, specialises in developing anti-theft devices for hotels, malls, and gyms.
Recently, they introduced a gadget that can prevent theft in hotels to a great extent. Tiny chips working on RFID technology are embedded in certain hotel amenities, and a detector is installed at the exit areas.
If guests try to sneak out hotel amenities, the detector would trigger an alarm as soon as they reach the exit area. This would help in catching the culprit on the premises itself, and save your hotel from loss.
Keep an inventory rate list in every room
I know this sounds weird and it can give content for memes to netizens. But trust me, this step can help a lot.
It’s quite simple. Just print a menu card that includes all the room amenities and their costs. Leave a note in the end, ‘If any of the items are found missing from the room, then the guests would be fined accordingly’.
Place it in each room or hand it over to guests. If you are using a chatbot, program it to send a PDF version of this list to every guest that stays in your hotel.
Don’t forget to scan visitors
Visitors coming to the hotel either for official purposes or meeting in-house guests can steal from your property. And, you need to catch these culprits. How?
It’s simple. Scan every visitor and their baggage during entry and exit. Train your front desk staff to stay alert all time.
Ask them to inform the security department if they come across any suspicious person claiming to visit guests or staff members.
Imprint your brand on inventory
Branding the inventory is a low-cost alternative to installing technology in hotel amenities. It works in two ways-
- Guests hesitate to steal tagged or branded amenities out of defamation.
- If they are caught sneaking out hotel belongings, the branding would act as a proof.
Moreover, branding amenities is a useful step if guests try to forge the original one.
Cleaning occupied rooms in presence of guests
Rooms are usually cleaned in the guests’ absence since most of them are out of the premises during the day.
Because of the rush, many guests forget to lock their valuable assets in the safety locker. And as per hotel rules, staff members are not supposed to misplace any guests’ belongings.
If any such items are lost or stolen, it would create a ruckus. Hence, it’s better to confirm with guests if their room can be cleaned.
If they agree, you are good to go. Additionally, ask them if they have locked their valuables in the cupboard or locker.
In case guests refuse room cleaning, get it done during turndown service in the presence of guests. This small step can create a great impact in reducing theft in hotels.
Install CCTV in BOH areas
These days installing CCTV cameras has become a mandate. However, a majority of budget hotels neglect this step and later face the consequences.
It’s important to install CCTV cameras in hotels at appropriate places. BOH (Back Of the House) areas like parking, staff entry and exit doors, loading and unloading spaces are among them.
Ignoring them could prove fatal, as they are the easiest ways to steal away any valuable materials. Ensure that they are covered under security surveillance.
Immediate scanning of staff
While you are focusing on visitors and guests, there might be chances that your staff might be stealing things behind your back.
So, don’t forget to scan your staff and their bags, during entry and exit. Remember, nothing’s more vital than ensuring complete safety at your property.
Theft in the hotel industry is not a new thing. Ever since properties started investing in expensive amenities, the threat has risen exponentially.
It doesn’t matter if the culprit behind a heist is a guest, staff or a visitor. Any kind of mugging causes considerable damage to hotels revenue, as well as the reputation.
In this blog, I have mentioned some easy hacks to reduce theft in hotels. Go ahead and instigate them at your property. Do let me know in the comments, how these steps helped you.