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Follow 5 Teacher Training Tips to Form a Guest Safety Plan

Treating guests well starts with keeping them safe. That means the foundation for hospitality excellence should include a meticulously crafted security plan.

Guests cannot enjoy themselves without first feeling secure in their environment. The same goes for those who serve them, who cannot succeed at their jobs without knowing how to keep themselves and their patrons safe.

Unpredictable situations are bound to come up, and it’s always better to deal with the potential outcomes head on and ahead of time – not when things start to go south. This is where the hospitality industry can learn a thing or two (or two hundred) from teachers like me.

In my previous career as an educator and administrator, I spent a significant number of hours developing on-campus safety protocols. Our staff met frequently, adjusting when our real-world practice didn’t produce the results we wanted.

Sadly, schools have become a place where safety is a top concern. Teachers constantly implement safety policies to keep their students out of harm’s way.

During my 10 years of teaching, my colleagues and I would constantly brainstorm, rehearse, and reflect on safety. When we finished the process, we would repeat it. This commitment to getting it right was key in the effectiveness of our “in-house” security system. Communication and reinforcement helped us feel ready to handle a variety of situations.

More importantly, our dedication to security helped us prepare students mentally and physically. Because we spent so much time and energy laying out possible scenarios, I know we gave ourselves a better chance of positive outcomes for each of them.

Since teachers are often responsible for the lives of others, the hospitality industry should take heed of their emergency planning strategies.

1.   Keep everyone in mind

This first lesson is arguably the most important one of all: When your team talks about a security strategy, consider every single person – especially guests.

There’s a variety of roles to consider in most establishments, especially when it comes to hospitality. Unfortunately, we don’t always consider another person’s point of view until it’s too late.

Assign a safety task force with a representative from every department, and make sure someone is dedicated to presenting the guest perspective. This can offer valuable insights into how different departments operate, as well as review of logistics that affect evacuation routes.

2.   Details always matter

Once protocols are formed and agreed upon, make sure to include detailed instructions for every step and every scenario. Write out plans for specific situations like natural disasters, then rewrite the different plans for when there’s the presence of a weapon, bomb threat, life-threatening injury, or other human-centered emergency. Each scenario and proposed action should have its own assigned section in a binder, and copies of all instructions should be passed out to every staff member for review.

3.   Communicate plans clearly

Once staff members receive visual copies of safety plans, schedule a meeting to go over all of the material verbally. Provide maps, especially when describing evacuation routes or asking departments to move to different areas during an emergency. Be very specific. Whoever is tasked with delivering this information should open the floor to questions and answer any that arise. It helps to provide a quiz so employees can test their knowledge and make sure they understand not only what their responsibilities are in an emergency situation, but who is tasked with guiding guests where they need to go.

4.   Perfect practice makes perfect

Developing muscle memory allows the body to remember what to do, even when it’s not actively doing it – and even when the brain might be preoccupied with other tasks. So that means muscle memory is a powerful tool in high-stress situations. Getting employees to physically act out the motions of a security training plan is integral in proper execution if or when the time comes to put plans into action. It will also give staff the confidence they need to assist guests in safety plans and role play while carrying out these actions.

5.   Change is sometimes necessary

It’s okay to adjust security training. Just because something has been agreed upon, written, and handed out does not mean it’s set in stone, especially when it comes to keeping people safe in a changing world. What works for your staff and guests one day may not work another day. If you notice anything during a practice or real-world scenario, meet immediately after when appropriate and note observations and potential improvements to everyone’s roles and responsibilities. Then go back and repeat lessons 1 through 4.

Talk, plan, and do your own research

I strongly suggest using school safety rules as inspiration for updating and improving security training. Why not integrate techniques developed by professionals that essentially have to double as their own security team?

Of course, it’s always a good idea to consult your own company’s existing policies, as well as security professionals who can guide your staff on up-to-date measures. Think thoroughly about protocols that directly affect staff and guests, and make room for changes that relate specifically to the unique needs of a service industry role.

As unpleasant as it might be, talking about these topics before they become reality will create a more secure guest experience.

Get the entire team involved when it comes to safety. Whether you have a dedicated security staff on site or not, it’s never a bad idea to empower employees with a plan. After all, we can never be too prepared when it comes to keeping each other safe.