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Preparing for terrorist attacks must become as routine as health and safety checks


Guest Alexandra Lewis
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Guest Alexandra Lewis

Following the weekend’s bombs in Majorca, Justin Priestley, executive director of Aon’s crisis management team, explains why hotels are increasingly under threat from terrorists and how to prevent the risk by ensuring planning is as routine as carrying out health and safety checks.

 

Q. There have been a number of attacks on hotels recently - what's the reasoning behind it?

 

A. Globally hotels have been an attractive target for terrorist organisations for a number of years as it is very easy for terrorists to conduct reconnaisance to find where the hotel is vulnerable, therefore providing the terrorist with a high probability that their attack will succeed. Equally they offer a high concentration of people and will also attract worldwide media attention – all key to ensuring the terrorists maintain their profile and aims.

 

Q. How has the hotel industry responded?

 

A. Most large hotel groups now acknowledge they are a high profile target and therefore have a corporate responsibility to ensure the safety of their staff and visitors. Global hotel groups have responded in a very positive manner by ensuring they have an understanding of which hotels within their group are most at risk and then reviewing their vulnerability.

 

This is an ongoing process and one that requires a constant overwatch of how the threat is changing globally, with a mechanism to enhance security as the threat rises. This could be influenced by a high profile visitor to the hotel or the type of event the hotel is hosting.

 

Q. What’s the risk management process?

 

A. Firstly, hotel groups must conduct a threat assessment of their global portfolio. This will indicate how many hotels they have in high risk countries. Secondly, they review crisis management plans and procedures, together with selected individual security reviews at hotels. This process needs to become a part of doing business, just as health and safety assessments have become routine.

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