How to Protect a High-Rise Hotel Without Inconveniencing Guests

Strategies for hotel security – keeping your people and property safe while maintaining a welcoming atmosphere

Managing security in hotels is a careful and balancing act. Guests want to know that their rooms and possessions are safe, and that measures are in place to stop suspicious people from entering the property. But they don’t want their stay interrupted by oppressive security measures.

A welcoming atmosphere is key to a hotel’s success, but it also creates vulnerabilities. The New York Post reports that hotel and motel crime in the city grew by nearly 20 percent between 2011 and 2015 – even as citywide crime fell by 6 percent.

It’s estimated that a crime occurs daily in every big-city hotel, with nearly 40 percent of them happening in rooms, nearly 30 percent occurring in other parts of the hotel, and more than 30 percent taking place outside on hotel premises, according to the “Hotel Crime and Its Cost to Franchisees” study.

That’s true for budget hotels as well as five-star properties, the study said.

Building design plays a vital role in assessing a hotel’s security needs. Sites of varying sizes require different security technology layouts with different levels of functionality and sophistication.

The sheer magnitude of space within high-rise hotels – a multitude of floors, elevators, rooms, public areas, and offices – makes security a challenge. And customers’ privacy concerns make it unlikely that the extreme measures like X-ray machines and metal detectors discussed on the heels of the Las Vegas high-rise shooting will become common.

Nevertheless, quality security systems are critical to the safety of guests, employees, and the hotel’s property. Not only does inadequate security put people and property at risk, but hotels can be held liable for criminal acts that occur on the premises.

Steps to secure a high-rise hotel

Follow these nine strategies to keep your hotel safe while ensuring it remains accommodating to guests:

  • Begin with access control. Maintaining an open-door policy is crucial to making guests feel comfortable. But for high-rise hotels, security challenges begin in the lobby. Hundreds of people stream in and out throughout the day – from guests and conference attendees to hotel staff – making it easy for anyone to wander in.A proper access control strategy allows you to control who has access to each area of your property. Guests can use their room key card to access the pool, the gym, the business center, or any other places you wish paying customers to be able to go, while also defending against unauthorized intruders. That keeps people who aren’t guests from using the pool or gym, where theft often occurs. Make sure to deactivate key cards as soon as guests leave or if they are reported as lost.


  • Control elevator use. High-rise hotels experience a high volume of elevator usage every day. A smart way to keep the hotel secure is by only allowing people to access the areas of the property they need. Key cards can be programmed to designate exactly which floors employees or guests can access.Of course, elevator access can be breached if an individual follows someone onto a floor they are not authorized to visit. Usually this happens unintentionally, but other security measures such as surveillance cameras will serve as important backups for protecting people and property.


  • Take advantage of security cameras. The number of rooms, floors, and nooks and crannies in a high-rise hotel can make video surveillance seem daunting. But research confirms that video surveillance is a major deterrent to crime – and new technology offers many advanced options to keep your property safe, including facial-recognition devices, motion detectors, and anti-tampering systems. Video surveillance also provides a visual record of everything that takes place within a hotel’s public spaces, providing the evidence you need to stop theft and protect yourself from legal claims concerning onsite accidents.


  • Make use of video analytics. Intelligent video that can quickly detect predefined threats such as loitering and unattended bags is key for the immense size of high-rise hotels, which are difficult to search or monitor manually. It can also immediately search present and past video recordings for security concerns: for instance, you can type “red bag” into the system and obtain video of all red bags at the hotel. Integrating video surveillance with your access control system will also enhance your understanding of events and alarms, such as a door being propped open.


  • Don’t forget about the outside of the property. Exterior areas such as loading docks and the backs of buildings are often out of sight and out of mind, making them vulnerable to illicit activity or a security breach. Video that records on motion and can trigger lights or an audio recording can go a long way toward convincing criminals to find an easier target.Security companies should consider the local crime profile to assess your risk and customize the best solution. Cameras can circle the perimeter of hotel car parks, or be placed strategically throughout garages. Another innovative offering is a “virtual valet” system that allows security guards who cannot leave their posts to make sure guests arrive safely at their cars via camera.


  • Consider mobile keys. Since most guests carry smartphones at all times, providing them with mobile keys can improve security. Although patrons may misplace key cards – often inside the cardholder that reveals which room it unlocks – they generally keep track of their phones. Your security provider might be able to retrofit your existing locks so they have mobile functionality.


  • Don’t let your guard down at night. Station security personnel at your property’s main access points during off-hours to greet guests but turn away anyone that doesn’t have business on your property. An around-the-clock security presence can be an important deterrent.


  • Use managed services. Managing all the components of a high-rise hotel’s surveillance system is a time-consuming task. Many security providers allow you to back up your security measures by relying on a remote surveillance team. Whether you want to reduce your onsite security force or strengthen after-hours support, managed services are a cost-effective way to ensure your hotel is always protected.


  • Regularly evaluate and make changes. Security challenges are ever-evolving, and hotel conditions must be reviewed on a regular basis to make sure nothing needs to be changed or improved. Use checklists to ensure that vulnerable areas in a high-rise like stairwells and hallways remain well-lit, security cameras are in working order, and no new concerns have developed.


The goal of every hotel is to combine safe and secure accommodations with exceptional customer service and a friendly atmosphere. The integrated security solutions from Peace of Mind Technologies help properties reduce security costs and maintain guest satisfaction through comprehensive, effective, and unobtrusive solutions.

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Since 2002, Peace of Mind Technologies has delivered over 2,000 security solutions across six industries in the greater New York Metropolitan area. We’re specialists who work with you to provide comprehensive, site-specific security from implementation to post-installation support. To discuss your needs, please call (212) 688-2767, email at, or complete this contact form.