Terrorism in Hospitality Industry

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“Don’t turn the war on terrorism into the war on tourism” (Zemsky, 2005)

The term terrorism has evolved in its meaning since it was first introduced in 1790s during the violent period following the French Revolution, to what it is now as the acts of violence or brutality intended to gain political, religious or ideological objective through intimidation and instillation of fear in the targeted population (Jenkins, 2003; Enders and Sandler, 2002). In hospitality industry, concern regarding terrorism has been noticed since the mid-1980s, as cases of terrorism in tourism related sectors increased dramatically from 206 in 1972 to 3,010 in 1985 (d’Amore and Anunza, 1986). Since then, security is seen as crucial (Pizam and Mansfeld, 1996) and is increasingly intensified especially after the tragic events on September 11, 2001 (Cohen, 2002). Terrorism in hospitality industry is continuously happening. Post the 9/11 era, there have been many significant terrorism incidents targeting hotels worldwide (Guardian, 2009). Hospitality leaders need to be able to take proactive actions to minimize occurrence possibilities. However, managing security in hospitality industry is a little more complex when compared with other industries, and therefore required a different approach. This essay aims to critically analyze the unique challenges faced by hospitality industry in managing its security. Three main issues will be discussed thoroughly and some related examples will be presented as supporting explanations. Then, it will be followed by relevant recommendations regarding actions to be taken by the leaders in the hospitality industry. Complexity of managing security in hospitality industry is primarily due to the nature of the industry itself. Hospitality is a business that revolves around offering friendly, welcoming, and generous treatment to its customers. Hotels in particular, emphasize a “home-from-home” concept that encourages guests to use facilities as if they were their own in order to make them feel as welcomed, comfortable, convenient and relaxed as possible (Ulph, 1996). It strives for making guests feel as if they were in their home on the one hand, while on the other hand needs to secure it against any possible criminal threats. As mentioned by Todd Brown, the executive director of United States Overseas Security Advisory Council, hospitality industry faces a contradictory problem in term that “they’re inviting people in and they want to be hospitable, but some are also operating in an environment that is real threatening, especially with terrorism” (Yu, 2008). While other businesses are able to opt for overt security practices, stringent security practices are often considered unacceptable in hospitality industry as guests wish to experience discreet high personalized service (Gill et al., 2002). Several London’s top hotels security managers stated that if not impossible, it is extremely difficult to ensure maximum security in line with maintaining high hospitality standards. Its unique context requires a compromise balance so that hospitable image can still be portrayed and terrorism threats can be prevented, avoiding damage caused by either service deterioration or severe terrorism impacts (Groenenboom and Jones, 2003). Even though there is no international standard, in most cases except for those located in high risk locations such as Israel, to be extremely overt by having uniformed security guard at every door may frighten guests. From the positive side, it does going to enhance protection for the guests, staffs and properties; however it is also going to promote the feeling as if they were in unsafe environment instead and discourage them from wanting to be there. One of international security and policing advisory companies stresses the point that good security practice should not be intrusive. Hospitality leaders should be able to provide discreet, professional and effective security; which is enough to deter...
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