Both the Ritz-Carlton and the JW Marriott in Jakarta, Indonesia, reopened by late July, having repaired all damage sustained from the July 17 terrorist bombings that killed seven people and injured more than 50. While the blast wreckage was very localized, the loss of life and the threat of future attacks have caused officials at Marriott International to take a closer look at property preparedness.
Both hotels were operating with a very high level of security, according to a spokesperson for the hotel company. "But given the nature of the incidents," she added, "as well as the 2003 [Jakarta Marriott bombing], we knew we had to take another look at our security measures."
Like many hotel chains, Marriott works with outside experts and consultants to develop and audit security plans. The company reviewed procedures at all properties in the Asia-Pacific region, focusing on Southeast Asia. Security measures were strengthened in Indonesia and in many other locations, said the spokesperson.
Planners should perform due diligence when selecting properties, particularly in high-risk areas, according to hospitality-security and risk-management consultant Philip Farina, founder and CEO of Farina and Associates in San Antonio. A good place to start, he suggested, is with reports provided by the Overseas Security Advisory Council (osac.gov), which "give a fairly clear overview of what's going on in that region and help planners decide where to go from there."
One area of growing concern, noted Farina, is evacuation. "Many hotels do not update their plans when they should," he said. "An emergency evacuation plan is for everything from a fire or natural disaster to the threat of a terrorism event -- it should cover all those things, and how it's determined who's going to be in charge, who is going to provide information, how the employees are going to respond and how the guests are going to be handled. These plans should be updated, at the very least, on a semiannual basis."
Farina added that planners should inquire when evacuation plans were last updated as well as whether the venue has a full-time, dedicated security staff. If possible, arrange to meet with the director of security to review the plan.