Is security an invasion or expectation?

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By Mark Somen, Director

In my last blog, I compared service and hospitality in New York and in Kenya – where I have recently returned from. Today I want to talk about security.

I was just riding a cross-town bus in Manhattan. We stopped, and 6 armed homeland security agents came on to check everyone’s tickets/metrocards. A couple of people didn’t have this new paper ticket they are now issuing and were pulled off the bus. The traditional New York dialogue started – postulating about the fact that “we aren’t criminals….i can understand 2 of them – but 6!....well, these guys make $20 an hour – what do you expect?” to the last proclamation about the agents “they need to get their asses kicked!”

Running a hotel in Nairobi causes you to quickly become a security expert. Should we buy one of those airport scanners for the front entrance? Can we afford 4 $12,000 sniffer dogs? Why don’t we get the ‘Sniffer machine’ – no need to feed it or buy it a kennel, though it is $50,000? You are constantly on alert – who is taking pictures of the hotel, who is driving behind me at night, didn’t I just see that bag sitting unattended 2 minutes ago….

Quite different from walking into most New York City hotels, bustling with people and activity, and there is no screening, no dog, no apparent armed guard. Call me sensitive, call me paranoid, but I kinda like 6 armed agents coming to check on what’s going on.