By Douglas Belton
It has been almost two years since the Mubai terrorist attacks which claimed the lives of 173 people. Two of the attack sites, the Taj Mahol, and the The Oberoi Trident, were hotels used by international business travelers. There were six explosions alone recorded at the Taj Mahol.
Terrorists never stop thinking of ways to make a memorable impact on people’s lives and to disrupt the normal rhythm of daily business. That is the nature of terrorism and it is our business to plan counter strategies so the ones we protect do not fall victim to the terrorist agenda.
Effective executive protection planning involves a well established network of people who understand your needs and are willing to help you in staying a step ahead of those who would do your client harm. When operating over seas, it is your bread and butter to stay connected with people in the travel industry.
When things go bad what you need more than anything else is good information and people who can help you and your client get out of a bad spot. Knowing the hotel director of security prior to wheels down on an overseas assignment is not optional. Do not settle for simply knowing the limo company’s name and contact information, you need to know the individuals that will be driving you and your client as well as the on duty security providers at the hotel.
In advance of your trip, contact the hotel and speak directly with the director of security. Learn the strategic advantages and disadvantages of each area of the hotel. Know where the staircases are and how far the elevators are from the room your client will stay in. Whenever possible, request private elevator access for you client.
Request a schedule of security personnel who will be on duty during your stay and request additional patrols in the area of your client’s room. Many hotels around the world have special suites designed for dignitaries. The Windom Anatole Hotel in Dallas, Texas for example has a suite designed by the secret service to house the President of the United States whenever he stays there. Find out if the hotel your client is staying in has such a suite and if it is unavailable, try to book rooms near this suite because many of the safety features for these rooms are based upon it’s strategic location within the hotel.
Finally, but perhaps most important, you cannot often demand special treatment for your client but you can develop some important relationships with key people based upon their respect and admiration for you. Executive protection planning often comes down to a reliance on the information you receive from people you have met during your travels.
It is amazing how far small favors can go toward making you the person these people want to serve. When you talk to the hotel concierge and security manager, they may share the name of their spouse with you, write it down or remember it. When you call that person to plan your next trip find a way to ask about their spouse by name and if you know something about their children ask about them too.
If a security guard happens to like a special treat that is only found in America, remember to pack some for your trip and offer it to them. These are the simple things that will make them go the extra mile to keep you and your client safe. Building these networks will not only help you keep your client safe, they will help you avoid headaches and heartaches at the same time.