Tourism is a $5 billion industry in New Hampshire and making sure our hotels are inviting places for travelers is paramount to keeping the industry strong.

This can be accomplished in many ways, whether it’s improving infrastructure or finding better ways to promote the industry. Hotel safety may not seem so obvious on that list, but it is.

That’s why we are working with the MPD and Catholic Medical Center to develop and roll out the Be Safe, Be Aware program to raise awareness and give hotels a better understanding of how to deal with drug activity. The project includes a seminar and literature for hotel operators to provide to employees.

How much of an issue is drug activity for some properties?

I once talked to a general manager of a hotel who said the maintenance staff there goes around every day looking for needles that people have thrown away after using them to shoot up drugs. And we shouldn’t forget about the incident in March that made front page news when two people holed up in a Manchester hotel room doing drugs died after a standoff with police.

We are enjoying a time when new hotels are being built around the state, but not all the new jobs being created will be filled. There are reasons for that, but a fear for safety should not be one.

Knowing what to look for

Hotel operators, of course, want the best and safest environment for their employees and their guests, but sometimes it’s hard to monitor what’s going on behind closed doors. And sometimes people just don’t know what they should be looking for when they are checking in a guest or cleaning a room.

That’s why the Be Safe, Be Aware seminar can be so impactful. It helps staff to know what to look for and how to handle a situation.

The first training seminar was held this summer in front of a crowd of hotel operators, industry leaders, community activists and law enforcement officials at the DoubleTree by Hilton Manchester Downtown. Manchester Police Chief Carlo Capano gave the opening remarks and Officer Nate Linstad delivered the presentation.

Officer Linstad is part of MPD’s Community Police Division. He delivers upwards of eight seminars a week to local groups on a variety of safety subjects, including Workplace Violence, Teen Safety, Safety Training for Schools, Active Shooter and Until Help Arrives.

Helpful information

Accompanying literature for hotels includes an onboarding brochure for new employees and a poster to hang in employee areas. Each provides sensible information on what to look for and what to do when drugs or drug activity are detected, such as:

  • Never hesitate to call the police if you are suspicious about someone or something.
  • Keep track of visitors who are not familiar with the guest they are visiting.
  • Be aware of guests who consistently request room service be left outside the door, rather than brought into the room.

The seminar brought together people dedicated to making change: Chief Capano; Capt. Brian O’Keefe, who heads the Community Police Division; Tim Soucy, Executive Director for Community Health & Mission at CMC; DoubleTree General Manager Kim Roy; and Mike Somers, President of the New Hampshire Lodging & Restaurant Association.

This is just the first step. To help hotel operators around the state:

  • More seminars are being planned.
  • O’Keefe and Officer Linstad have volunteered to package several seminars tailored for hotel safety that could be delivered in one day in order to save hotel staff time being off-site. One of those seminars, Until Help Arrives, trains staff to respond to a crisis, including medical emergencies.
  • The NHLRA volunteered to make the brochure and poster available on its website as a download for its members.
  • CMC arranged to have both pieces translated into Spanish.

Making our community safe for the people who live and work here and the ones who visit New Hampshire is vital to our economy. This is an issue that is as much about dollars and cents as it is about common sense.