In South Africa, hospitality is a booming industry. The country’s ‘exotic’ wildlife and evocative nature draw thousands of international guests to South African shores annually. This, in turn,results in positive growth for the local tourism industry - and holds large benefitsfor the South African hospitality industry at large.

According to Statistics South Africa’s Tourism figures, from January 2018 to May 2018, 4423165 tourists visited South Africa as compared to the 4 308 358 tourists that visited South Africa during the same period of the previous year. These statistics indicate a 2,7% increase; and predictions are that tourism will continue to be on the rise in 2019 and beyond.

While this increase in numbers is undoubtedly great for the industry, it also poses a genuine threat of an increase in crime against tourists. “Hospitality facilities can quickly become seen as ‘soft targets’ for potential crime. The understanding is that these facilities usually house a large percentage of foreign guests.These guests are often not educated about how to stay safe in South Africa, and are also known to be carrying valuable items with them (such as cameras and foreign currency). This often draws the wrong kind of attention and threatens the security of the hospitality facilities and their guests,” explains Jacki Condon, Managing Director of Apache Security Services.

Hospitality guests who have negative experiences and feel unsafe will not return to the same facility in future visits – if they return to the county at all. Furthermore, not only will these facilities lose the loyalty of these guests, but they also run the risk of negative sentiments being shared, about their establishment, with future potential guests (through word of mouth or via comments on review platforms and social media).

“It seems that often people in the hospitality sector feel dejected by the crime in South Africa and that they are at the mercy of their circumstances. However, I believe it is important that the facility owners and managers know that they don’t have to be ‘victims to their circumstances’ as it were. When implemented and managed properly, real and effective security strategies and solutions will keep your guests and facilities safe,” she adds.

Condon continues to outline some imperative tips for what hospitality establishments need to look out for to ensure they have good security. This advice includes conducting a thorough security audit/survey to determine where their threats/risks/gaps in security lie.

Condon also states that the selection and training of security staff is crucial to any company offering security solutions.She confirms that hospitality managers should ensure that the companies they employ to keep them safe have strict training and discipline strategies in place for their agents.

“They should also be aware of the detailed knowledge needed for working with guests, especially international guests. Personnel who are not discreet and professional may intimidate guests. This, in turn, will not only cost you the guest’s feeling of safety, but may ultimately pose a greater security threat too - frightened people often do not behave rationally,” concludes Condon.

It is important to know where threats and weaknesses lie within the hospitality facilities so that vital security processes and solutions can be put into place to ensure that guests have a safe and welcoming stay. These guests will probably promote their experiences on social media platforms as well as by word of mouth – whether positive or negative.If positive, this has the potential to growboth the hospitality industry and the greater South African tourism industry.

Issued by Perfect Word Consulting (Pty) Ltd
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