As a traveler, you likely know the peaceful feeling of settling into your hotel room after a long day of travel. Imagine waking up in your hotel room to find a stranger in your room. This happens much more frequently than you might imagine.
It was early in the morning when Jerry and Alicia, an elderly couple woke up to find a stranger in their room. They chose the Fairfield Inn and Suites for their stay as it was the newest hotel to open in the small town of Monahans, Texas. The property is part of the Marriott chain.
A room key was incorrectly issued to another party for the same room by the desk clerk. The intruder apologized and left the room. But the story doesn’t end there. Christopher and his wife were also guests in the same hotel and experienced a similar situation when he rented two rooms for his family. As his wife was approaching the door to one of their assigned rooms, she witnessed another person use a key to enter the room. She immediately returned to the front desk and the clerk apologized for assigning the room to two separate parties. Guests should take extra precautions by using the door latch lock that prevents the door from being opened while occupying the room.
At a hotel property in Las Vegas, a similar incident happened to Jim. He was provided with a room key and discovered personal effects including a suitcase as well as jewelry and cash on a desk in the room. He immediately closed the door and returned to the front desk. These incidents should serve as a reminder that your valuables are not safe in your room. Don’t bother using the safe in the hotel room. More on that in a minute.
Here are a few other security tips for helping you stay safe in a hotel:
Key envelopes have too much information that identifies you, the hotel you are staying in, the room number and perhaps even your expected date of departure. If you drop this envelope, anyone can pick it up and access your room. A dropped keycard found without the key envelope is worthless.
Never give your room number out loud, unless you’re checking out. If a hotel desk clerk verbally provides your room number AND name within earshot of another guest, ask for a new room assignment and tell the clerk why you are requesting it. Hotel clerks have a duty of care to ensure guest safety by safeguarding private details.
Travel is stressful because travelers are venturing to unfamiliar places. Thieves and scammers who target travelers know this and will look for ways to take advantage of you. Familiarize yourself with your surroundings as you walk to your room.
Note the location of elevators, emergency exits and employee-only areas. Each could be useful if you are followed by anyone in the hotel. Note the location of house phones at elevator landings. These phones typically dial the front desk when picked up.
Finally, check your room upon arrival. Pick up the room phone and check for a dial tone to make sure it works, check all exterior doors (including connecting room doors) for working door locks, deadbolts, security chains or bars. Exterior doors should have at least one lock in addition to the primary key-activated lock. Use these anytime you are in the room. Finally, note the location and escape path to emergency exits.
In-room safes can be accessed by employees of the hotel. Although the number of employees with the tools and knowledge to open them is limited to security and management, the fact is they can be accessed. If you have valuables that should be locked up, ask the front desk clerk to place your items in a safe deposit box at the front desk and ask for a receipt. Hotels accept liability for items placed in a safe deposit box at the front desk but will not accept liability for loss of items stored in the room safe.