Commentary By: Frances Kiradjian, CEO, BLLA
Our hearts go out to all the people in Manchester who were affected by Monday’s act of terrorism.
We are all still reeling from the news of Monday night’s bomb attack on Manchester Arena in the UK, which killed 22 people and injured more than 59. Suspected at the time of writing to be an act of terrorism (a man has been arrested), the explosion follows on the heels of attacks on Paris, Brussels, Nice and elsewhere, and just like those incidents it will cause increased trepidation on the part of travelers, who fear another attack could happen any time.
As an industry, we rely on our guests experiencing a sense of security and comfort, but how can we guarantee this in a world where ideologically motivated acts of violence are becoming more and more common? And how do we deal with the fact that our own hotels could conceivably be targets for the next attack?
We certainly would be wrong to close our eyes to the threat. Unfortunately, hotels can be viewed as a soft target from a terrorist’s perspective, as places where a lot of people tend to congregate and with relatively low security. On the flip side, hoteliers are also understandably wary of seeming overly suspicious of paying guests. But there is a lot to be said for undertaking a risk assessment of your premises and taking the necessary steps to make sure that you and your guests are protected.
You might also want to update your current security setup and if necessary, hire a contractor to ensure that safe standards are met – especially if your local area is one that is considered particularly at risk of terrorist activity. And there is justification for having emergency measures in place in the unlikely event that something terrible should happen.
But with all that said, it is important not to overreact to acts of terrorism. Panic and disorder are neither effective nor pleasurable, and certainly won’t bring guests to your door. Above all, we should bear in mind that these events are newsworthy because they are exceptional; that it’s extremely likely you will never be witness to a terrorist attack. Historically speaking, we live in safe times, and life expectancy is at an all-time high.
So, it’s normal to feel shocked and outraged about what happened and it’s advisable to take whatever precautions are necessary to ensure that you and your guests are safe and happy at all times. But we should never give in to terror. That is, after all, exactly what terrorists want.