Nestled in the heart of Orchard Road, amidst throngs of fast-moving crowds, how does a hotel maintain its vigilance?
For a start, it pays to have a robust standard operating procedures in place, complimented with staff training through role plays and staying connected with neighbouring buildings and associations.
Ms Kanchan Kanwar, General Manager for Grand Park Orchard, shares with us how the hotel mitigates risks and ensures security and proper measures are set in place.
Grand Park Orchard is the flagship hotel of Park Hotel Group which employs more than 850 people in Singapore. The hospitality group has nearly 20 hotels and resorts operating or under development in 12 destinations across Asia Pacific.
Staying vigilant and resilient
Being in the hospitality industry, the organisation believes that being proactive in staying vigilant and resilient to terror attacks is important to the well-being of guests and employees.
Security managers from the various properties lead efforts to maintain preparedness to handle security threats and emergency situations. They lead in trainings on terrorism and emergency which complements the WSQ module, ‘Provide Workplace Safety and Security’. All new employees undergo a half-day induction training conducted by the security manager on employee orientation, basic security and preparedness. Staff are trained to familiarise themselves with the steps to take in the event of a crisis.
The hotel understands the unpredictability of situations which involve external guests. Hence, to enhance learning for staff, role plays are conducted so that employees know the actions they should take in different situations. One instance shared was a scenario on dealing with an unattended bag left near the bell desk. These role plays have proven effective for its more than 160 employees at Grand Park Orchard!
Celebrating diversities build cohesiveness
With several staff of different nationalities, the HR manager organises games, performances, with food belonging to various ethnicities that cultivate greater understanding of diverse cultures during festive periods. Such activities bring together the different departments and get them to celebrate diversity. These are well-received as staff attendance is usually 100%.
Establishing robust systems and framework
Park Hotel Group has implemented the OHSAS 18001 Framework and this is reviewed yearly. General managers, top and middle management, including management representatives such as security managers also attend bizSAFE as part of their training.
Having attained the bizSAFE Level Star certification, Grand Park Orchard has tapped on the guidelines, training materials, and resources provided by the bizSAFE programme to help the organisation learn from best practices, identify gaps and implement measures. The Park Hotel Group conducts internal and external audits on the organisation’s risk management assessment to ensure all measures are in place. Security leaders conduct the audit on sister hotels while an external consultant is also appointed to ensure all checks are carried out. With these processes in place, risks are minimised.
“ As the head of the organisation, I am responsible to the stakeholders. With the bizSAFE programme, we are aware of the risks that we need to manage, and we have the information to deal with such risks. We won’t know what to tackle if we are not prepared. We would then be under-delivering to our stakeholders which is not the key purpose of any businesses. ”
– Ms Kanchan Kanwar
With the safety and security of guests as top priority, the Company Emergency Response Team (CERT) of Grand Park Orchard, comprising the duty manager, a front-of-the-house staff member, bellman, security and engineering personnel, undergo extensive trainings.
The team oversees the Crisis Management Plan (CMP) where contingency plans are put in place to protect staff and guests. Hotel management staff are also sufficiently trained to handle media queries. As part of the CMP, there are regular patrol and maintenance checks conducted throughout the hotel. The security manager is the first point of contact if there are alerts which may threaten the safety of the hotel. He will then escalate this information to the General Manager.
Hotel employees who are not deskbound, and are in departments such as housekeeping, security and engineering, are connected via a group-based communication app where information can be speedily disseminated to everyone, including alerts on evacuation locations.
In times of crisis, the hotel needs to assess the amount of damage to the business as well as the loss of lives. Depending on the damage at the site, the management team may have to rely on resources of other sister hotels to operate in a different environment for the time being, and ensure that staff is well taken care of. All these efforts contribute to the hotel’s ability to recover as soon as possible.
Partnership and close collaboration with the community
A strong network not only can enhance businesses but also helps to strengthen its resilience. Grand Park Orchard is a member of the Orchard Road Business Association (ORBA), and works closely with the Singapore Hotel Association (SHA).
SHA regularly updates the management on SCDF initiatives and drills such as the importance of Islandwide Public Warning System (PWS) sounding, important message signal through PWS sirens, and downloading the SGSecure mobile application in support of Total Defence Day. SHA holds the annual Security Conference which provides a platform for experts in the area of terrorism, risk management and hotel security to share information and experiences. Bravery and Vigilance awards are given out to the deserving winners at this conference.
Furthermore, the Park Hotel Group continually stays engaged under the SGSecure movement by registering an SGSecure Representative with MOM. Through this, they regularly receive information on how to strengthen the vigilance and resilience of workplaces to withstand terror attacks.
The hotel works closely with the authorities, and occasionally receives notifications from Singapore Police Force (SPF), the airport and SHA on suspicious persons to look out for. Staff are trained to look out for potential suspects and do their due diligence checks on the records and guest lists.
Grand Park Orchard works closely with SPF and SCDF’s Safety and Security Watch Group (SSWG) which frequently communicates on national crisis, emergency situations and crime related incidents. General managers, security managers and human resource managers meet monthly with neighbouring buildings to ensure safety and security of the buildings. The hotel also supports and collaborates with the community in times of disruption.
“There was a fire incident which took place in one hotel and they contacted Grand Park Orchard to reserve 30 rooms for the guests. Although the rooms were not utilised in the end, it is important for hotels to help each other in times of crisis,” shared Ms Kanchan Kanwar.
Ms Kanchan Kanwar shares with us that even the neighbouring buildings’ security managers were invited to attend the hotel’s fire drills with SCDF debriefing the team thereafter. When drills are conducted, the hotel informs guests of the impending full evacuation of the building. To minimise the guests’ inconvenience, they would prepare a trolley of beverages and cookies for their guests. Surprisingly, there would be a handful of 15-20 enthusiastic guests who will even participate in such exercises.
“The support of agencies and strong connections with our neighbourhood and community are very important. With this SGSecure movement, it allows us to work together to respond swiftly and recover from any crisis situations,” concluded Ms Kanchan Kanwar.