Safemark was thrilled once again to be part of HI Connect Design™ this year in Nashville. The Vignettes (mock rooms) were an incredible opportunity for designers to display their creativity and served as the perfect showcase for Safemark’s Safes.
We had an opportunity to interview an amazing design firm, Diamond Interiors LA, who would later go on to win a prestigious award during HI Connect Design. Diamond Interiors LA provides an array of services including Interior Design, Branding, Architectural Design, Product Design, Sourcing and Project Management. The principal, Lori A. Neal, has been in the business for more than 25 years with a unique background that includes residential, hospitality, TV and even the Oscars! Lori’s vast network allows her to collaborate with other designers to create a talented ensemble to meet each client’s needs. Here is a recap of our conversation with Lori, who by the way, had the coolest take away item for attendees…a fur envelope full of product fliers.
Chatting with Lori A. Neal
Q: Is this your first time at HI Connect?
A: I attended last year as a guest and have been a BITAC attendee. HI Connect is a great concept as participants get to see how a room comes together based on designers and what their vision is.
Q: HI Connect is incredibly different than the typical trade show. What was your process for preparing for such a unique event?
A: We were over-the-moon excited to be selected as one of the designers for HI Connect. Our team rallied together and through the process we made fantastic, new relationships. The entire process took about 8 months from the initial design concepts to putting the final touches on the vignette this past week. The last two months were incredibly busy as we wanted to make sure our end product would “wow” the attendees.
Q: Tell us about the feedback you are receiving here at HI Connect?
A: Oh my - we have heard amazing comments and we’ve seen some hotel brands come back multiple times for another look. They’re interested in the entire collection and from a designer’s perspective that makes me so proud. My vision is here – there is no other place I would want to be today.
Q: How do you incorporate the safes into your unique designs?
A: I am a woman traveler so a lot of what goes into my designs is about my personal experiences and expectations. The hotel safe is an important part of my travels and my design. I carry a ton of jewelry while on the road so safes need to be easy for women to access without scuffing shoes, running panty hose…all of the things that we encounter. The Safemark safe is so easy to use – it’s flow, it’s soft, it’s nice and I work it into my designs first.
Q: Any final thoughts for us?
A: HI Connect has been a wonderful experience. I would absolutely do this event again and without a doubt, incorporate Safemark safes into my design!
As mentioned above, the team at Diamond Interiors LA went on to win an award from HI Connect Design as the "Vignette most likely to make guests want to move in permanently.” We can’t agree more as we found ourselves relaxing in their vignette for so long one would have thought we were part of the furniture!
A typical flight from Shanghai, China to New York City is over 15 hours. A flight from London to Phoenix is approximately 11 hours and four minutes. And if you’re traveling from Australia to Los Angeles, California be prepared to spend about 17 hours in the air.
Although those numbers are high, more and more people are traveling to the United States as international travel is on the rise. And the tourism and hotel industry is taking notice.
According to the United States Commerce Department, 66 million tourists traveled to the U.S. and spent more than $168 billion last year. It was estimated that international visitors shelled out $14.4 billion this past January alone, which is an increase of 11 percent since January 2012. Because of these findings, tourism industry officials began looking for new ways to continue the increase of foreign travelers.
That’s where Discover America comes into play. Discover America is a new advertising campaign created by the travel and tourism industry to help promote travel to the United States. The new promotions will include television commercials in nine countries, and photo advertisements and banners in Tokyo, London, and parts of Canada. Facebook pages will be used to converse in other languages and tweets will be sent out to compliment the many charms the U.S. has to offer. While Discover America is garnering interest from foreign travelers, the hotel industry needs to ensure they are offering the same amenities provided by international hotels.
As international guests flock to the U.S., they are looking for a minimum of what they receive at home and likely, a unique experience to make their stay more enjoyable. For example, most high standard hotels in China offer large lobby areas, transportation to and from the airport, executive floors with concierge, and free breakfast buffets. Hotel rooms should be spacious and include in-room safes to lock up valuables. Because many international hotels offer facilities such as gyms, swimming pools, saunas, and laundry services, tourists expect to receive these same services while on American turf.
Be sure to contact Safemark if your property is missing in-room safes, as this expected amenity is sure to be needed by foreign guests to store passports, electronics, jewelry and other valuables.
The travel industry is increasing which leads to a higher demand in what guests want from their hotels. As that demand increases, what hotels are supplying is expected to increase as well. USA Today discussed these demands with five hotel CEOs from Kimpton, Best Western, Interstate, Wyndham and Carlson to see how they plan to deal with them.
The Want For Wi-Fi
The world is constantly moving, people are always talking, and the connection needs to be able to keep up. Wi-Fi isn’t just a luxury in hotel rooms; it’s become a necessity. With more people traveling for business and staying connected through social media sites, the Wi-Fi connection needs to be strong. Because of this, the hotel industry needs to upgrade its wireless infrastructure to accommodate guests’ wireless devices, including iPhones and iPads.
Keeping It Social
People are constantly checking Facebook, tweeting on Twitter, and uploading photos to Instagram, especially while traveling. And social media is a great way for consumers to speak with businesses. Hotels are focused on building a “one-on-one relationship” with guests that include monitoring social media sites to respond to questions, comments, and concerns in real time.
Customization Is Key
Loyalty is an important aspect of the hotel industry. If a guest enjoys his or her stay, he or she is most likely to come back and stay again. Hotels are finding new ways to reward loyal customers for their patronage. And the offers are constantly changing as hotels are presenting appealing recommendations customized for the guest. From the actual design of the hotel to discounts on room rates, guests have more options to choose from that works just for them.
Supply and demand are two influential factors in any type of business. The hotel industry is no exception. Guest satisfaction plays a crucial part in the development of new ideas and innovations for the ever growing and ever changing hotel industry.
Whether it is for business or pleasure, women are travelling as much as their male counterparts. When planning a family vacation, it is usually the mother who packs the suitcases and makes sure all necessities are brought along for the flight or car ride. Even women who are going on a “girl’s” trip or a solo voyage need to make sure they pack appropriately.
According to research from Hyatt Hotels & Resorts, electronic chargers for phones and laptops, hair straightening irons, yoga mats, and quality shampoo products were high on the list of items women want. All of these items are useful on a day-to-day basis, but there are two important features often overlooked, although they provide a much needed service...hotel safes and peephole covers.
Hotel safes are useful in protecting travelers’ valuables. In addition to bringing along typical items such as laptops and travel documents, women often wear jewelry on their trips. Whether it is a wedding ring, a nice watch, or a fancy necklace brought along for a business event, hotel safes allow women travelers to store these valuables in a secure place when they leave their hotel room and are not wearing them.
Peephole covers are so small they practically go unnoticed. Hotel doors are equipped with safety locks to keep intruders out. However, peepholes, which are found on a majority of hotel room doors, may allow outsiders to peer in, essentially invading your privacy. This is where peephole covers come into play. These specialized covers protect guests from prying eyes on the outside, restoring a guest’s privacy and security.
There has been an explosive growth in the travel industry thanks to female travelers and that statistic is only going to continue to grow. These travelers know what they want and the hotels are listening.
If you’re planning on doing some international traveling, you will most likely find yourself dealing with the process of getting or using a visa. Fueled by the daunting task of filling out the proper paperwork and waiting for availability with no detail overlooked, the visa process can turn out to be a long and cumbersome procedure that may turn you off from traveling outside of the country.
But all that may change thanks to a policy called “Smart Visa.”
Smart Visas are new solutions to promote international tourism while providing a safe and secure process for the traveler. By utilizing advanced technology to gather more data that will quickly be shared across borders, Smart Visas are expected to help increase security and alleviate government spending while enhancing customer experience. With the same information being collected and shared with border controls, typical discrepancies and clerical errors found among applications with differing requirements can be avoided.
As the financial advantage of international tourism becomes noticeably beneficial to governments, (the industry is responsible for employing 98 million people worldwide according to the World Travel and Tourism Council), countries are turning to secure and convenient ways for people to travel among their country. And these measures seem to be paying off. Tourism to Turkey more than doubled recently with their policy of providing visas among visitor arrivals. A person can travel to Beijing, China for three days without a visa if he or she is coming from one of a select 45 countries, and Russia is promoting visa-free travel to and from the European Union. Countries like Australia and the United Arab Emirates have already begun to use electronic visas, making applying for one quick and easy. In the United States, a national travel and tourism policy has been developed where a significant increase has been made in international arrivals. This progress is due in part to the expansion of the visa waiver program to Taiwan and the decreased wait times for in-person interviews.
The push for this new visa policy came earlier this year at the World Economic Forum in Davos. Hilton Worldwide and Marriott International teamed up to address the leaders of the global business and travel industry in hopes to promote the global action toward Smart Visa policies regionally by 2015 and globally by 2020.
“Smart governments are thinking about international travel and tourism as trade, and they are doing everything they can to remove barriers and be more strategic in addressing visas and other access issues that discourage people from traveling and doing business,” said Arne Sorenson, president and CEO, Marriott International. Both companies agreed on security being a top concern while allowing an easier way for travelers to “see the world and result in two billion world travelers in the next decade.”
A story came across my desk recently about a theft in a hotel in Xiamen, China. I have reproduced it below as printed in the local media, but it does give us pause to review the practice of key override systems on in room safes.
At Safemark, we sell a MedecoTM High Security key override as an option on all our hotel safes. The advantage of course is that should the electronics (or anything else) on the safe fail and the Electronic Handheld Override (EHO) will not gain access to the safe, the mechanical override bypasses the electronics package and physically pulls the locking bars back, opening the safe so the guest can retrieve their valuables in a timely and professional way.
Concerned security officers always ask how secure the system really is. Unlike a skeleton key, which was used in the Xiamen theft, the patented Medeco key utilized by Safemark cannot be unknowingly copied as blanks are not distributed outside the Medeco factory. The lock is virtually pick proof, cannot be bumped and additional keys are only available from Medeco with proper authority. Locks are specifically ordered for each job ensuring security integrity for your property.
The onus is then on the property to keep the key safe. I have found most properties have a standard operating procedure along the following lines:
- The master keys are secured inside a locked safe deposit box
- The safety deposit boxes are usually under a camera (this can provide an additional layer of security - with a recording of each opening)
- The MOD "Manager on Duty" is the only person on site with access to the safe deposit box
- Every effort should be exhausted with the security and engineering teams to open the safe normally with the EHO
- If access with the EHO is unsuccessful - then the MOD should sign the override key out to security/engineering
- The safe should be opened and the key promptly returned to the MOD to secure in the safe deposit box.
You must remember that on the Safemark product the EHO is used under normal circumstances to open a locked safe (the use of which by an authorized staff member will put that person’s name on the audit report) and that the Medeco is resorted to “when all else fails." This is unlike many guest room safes available on the market today which utilize only a master code and/or master key override system. The danger of this is plain to see in the incident in Xiamen.
Thief sisters who steal cash from hotel safes nailed by Xiamen police
While most hotel employees are honest, every occupation has a certain amount of employees who go bad and steal. Two thief sisters, who were employees of a hotel in Huli District, were recently arrested by Xiamen police for stealing cash and valuables from safes in the hotel’s guest rooms, and many of their victims were foreigners, reported the Chinese-language Haixi Morning News. Fang, who had worked as a maid at the hotel since March this year, secretly smuggled out the keys of the safes and made copies of them. She subsequently committed several thefts
Reproduced from “What’s on Xiamen” http://www.whatsonxiamen.com/tag-steal+cash+from+hotel+safes.html
Watch the sun set from a cloudless blue sky into the warm waters of the Arabian Gulf from Fairmont Hotels & Resorts newest property, Fairmont The Palm, Dubai.
Opening for guests on the 15th of December 2012, the hotel is situated on the iconic Palm Jumeirah, the world’s largest human-engineered island.
Fairmont has named Safemark as their preferred supplier of guest room safes, a relationship we have enjoyed for the past few years. We have had the privilege to work together on many of their new openings and refurbishments.
The Fairmont people understand the importance of providing their guests with an hotel room safe that will secure their valuables while being easy for staff to manage and maintain.
Being able to lock that laptop up while enjoying all the hotel has to offer including the glistening pools and a private beach—featuring cabanas with butler service, and endless water sports is vital.
On a recent visit to the property Sherif Hassanin, Assistant Manager, Security had to say, “We have just begun the opening phase of the hotel and as yet we do not have the years of experience with Safemark. Through this opening process it has been great to know the Safemark product and their local distributor, Hotelity, and see that all our valid concerns of security have been truly addressed. Compared to other safes that I have experienced in the past, Safemark lets me rest easy.”
Fairmont The Palm chose to install Safemark’s AN5.3 safe. With its sleek look and industry leading security, Fairmont's guests can be assured their valuables are safe and of course, a 15" laptop will still easily fit inside this hotel safe.
Safemark's AN5.3 15" laptop hotel safe
Hassanin went on to say, “We have received an overwhelming level of support from Hotelity and the Safemark technical team. We look forward to a good experience both internally and for our guests with Safemark at Fairmont The Palm Hotel.”
Now is the perfect time to escape the winter blues and head to Dubai as the weather does not get any better than it is right now with daytime highs of 26 – 28 degrees Celsius, just the right temperature to enjoy the endless white sand beaches of the Palm, Dubai.
If you are looking for an electronic safe solution to install in your hotel then Safemark Systems is the perfect choice. Not only are our safes top-notch and complimentary to your guestrooms, we provide excellent service and programs to make the experience even better.
In fact, we offer the widest selection of interchangeable safes and security systems for the hospitality industry!
Our direct purchase program is easy and, more importantly, affordable. No matter the size of property or number of rooms, we have you covered.
- A Five Year Manufacturer's Warranty (most models)
- Installation - We'll take the burden off your shoulders and ensure the safes are installed correctly in each guest room
- A comprehensive training program
- Competitive pricing
- Exclusive $10,000 Limited Warranty against forced entry on all guest room safes - We dislike intruders as much as you do!
All of us at Safemark are dedicated to providing the hospitality industry with hotel safes that will enhance the guest experience. Our professional sales team will work with you and your team to determine the best model for your hotel.
When you order from us, you order quality.
Ongoing in our series of introducing you to our global distribution partners, this month we would like you to meet Motavi, our authorised distributors for Malaysia and Brunei.
Safemark’s first foray out of the America’s came with the opening of the Hong Kong office Q2 2008. By Q3 we had our first distributor up and running, Motavi.
After a chance meeting between Jennifer Ferris, VP Sales, AP & ME and Ivo Nekvapil, CEO & Owner of Motavi at a SKAL luncheon in Hong Kong, Safemark’s longest standing distributor started selling safes.
“With Ivo’s experiences and connections in the hospitality business in Malaysia, this was a great opportunity for Safemark. We had a great brand and a world-class product, but no one outside of America knew who we were, Ivo’s connections certainly did a great job in opening doors for us and winning those initial contracts,” said Ferris.
Today the business is run by Ivo’s son Matthew and they continue to go from strength to strength. Matthew says of their decision to work with Safemark, “Motavi has been a distributor with Safemark for four years now. Working with Jennifer has always been fast and efficient. She is always there to support us, which is important. We couldn't imagine working with any other safe brand.”
He goes on to say, “The best thing about the safe is the user-friendliness of the software. It has really helped win us many contracts. The fact that Safemark are approved by so many hotel chains, makes our life easier, it helps get through the door.”
Motavi's reputation in their marketplace is second to none primarily due to their commitment to technical support. Their customers know that assistance is never far away. “And having Safemark behind us helps us tremendously” says Matthew.
Over the past four years Motavi has had many successful installations throughout Malaysia, notably, Pullmann Putrajaya, HardRock Penang, Swiss Garden and the Accor group of Hotels and we wish them continued success in the future.
To contact Matthew & Motavi:Motavi Sdn Bhd No 48 Persiaran 65CPekeliling Business CentreOff Jalan Pahang BaratKuala Lumpur 53000MalaysiaTel: +60 4021 3885 or 4021 3886Fax: +60 4021 3891Email: email@example.com
Kathy Lau joined the team at Safemark Systems on the 27th September, based in the Hong Kong office.
Jennifer Ferris, VP Sales AP & ME said, “I’m thrilled to have Kathy on board and really look forward to the improvements in Customer Service we will be able to make moving forward”.
Kathy’s role at Safemark will be a key one in ensuring the smooth passage of customer orders through the system from receipt, to production and logistics, to the final delivery. She will also assist with day to day customer enquiries and the administration of the Hong Kong office.
“Kathy’s background working for several Hong Kong based trading companies where her focus on customers, liaising with China based factories and her language skills – Kathy speaks English, Mandarin as well as her native Cantonese – will be a key asset for this office and our customer base”, says Ferris.
“Working with Jennifer and the team at Safemark offers me challenging work in the customer service area. I’m looking forward to growing with the Company and helping to achieve our goals. My immediate focus is on getting up to speed on procedures and familiarizing myself with the product range to perform more efficiently with all collaborators”, said Kathy.
Active in her spare time, Kathy enjoys a regular game of badminton as well as hiking, cycling, photography, reading (especially anything about Buddhism) and soaking up the sun.
Photo: Kathy (pictured right) with Leila from Ningbo Safemark, during a recent visit to Ningbo Safemark factory.