The importance of security at your lodge

We’ve recently returned from a trip to Zanzibar. It was after the first night’s stay that I once again realised how quickly one can either be super impressed with an establishment’s service standards, or absolutely horrified.

Unfortunately, in this case, it was the latter.

I had taken my camera with (with the aim of sharing some great photos with you when we return). The chalets we stayed in were all very neat and consisted of all the necessities for a three star self catering unit. You know – two towels on the bed, some bathroom amenities, mosquito nets (which you can’t go without there), etc.

On arrival I suspected that the lodge should be relatively safe, as all the chalets had windows that were only covered with mosquito nets. There were no actual glass windows, which indicated that they clearly have no problems with theft or other criminal activities. This was until that evening, when they stole my camera bag with my camera and two lenses from the bed while we were sleeping on the other bed in the room. After waking up from some strange noises, we realised something was up and got up to see if something was missing. When we went outside to see if there is a security guard who could assist us, there was absolutely no one to be found. Now – what do you do in such a situation? What if someone got hurt? The lodge manager was nowhere to be found, nor any of the three security guards who had been there earlier that evening. After notifying them the next morning, the lodge manager called the lodge owner, which indicated that he was not able to handle any of this and he realised that he had slipped up.

In Zanzibar it also seems to  work the other way around when it comes to police statements, as the police were not able to come to the lodge – they had to be fetched!

So…Travelling Mystery Guest compiled a few tips with regards to the importance of security at your accommodation establishment, which you might want to ensure are in place:

  • Make sure that your manager is always available and ensure that guests are given his or her contact details for emergencies. If a manager doesn’t want to be bothered in night time, he’s not worth being your manager. That’s where the extra mile comes in when it comes to hospitality.
  • If your lodge is large and needs security guards to patrol the area, ensure that they are on duty at all relevant times. Also ensure that your manager has an eye on them at all times.
  • With a tourist destination theft is always a possibility as tourists carry expensive items like cameras which are easy to spot and unfortunately also easy to sell on the black market within the hour. Make sure that your guests’ rooms can lock properly (doors and windows) and ensure that they are provided with safes to put their valuable items in. (In our case there were no safes).
  • When providing guests with safes, always ensure that the safe is accompanied by proper instructions on how to use it.
  • Be sure to have all contact details of local police readily available. (In this case, the manager also had to wait for a car, as he lent the lodge’s car to another lodge for the morning.) Be sure that your establishment always has some form of transport at hand for any kind of emergency or for in case you need to fetch the police without keeping your guests waiting for three hours!

One thing I could say about this lodge is that the manager was very helpful in booking us into another lodge (right next to them) with very high security gates and 24/7 security guards! Now why would they not have thought of this before my camera got stolen, mmm?

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