It’s becoming alarming in Nigeria, say hoteliers
Hotel guests appear to have graduated from carting away complimentary items in the room meant for their use and comfort to carrying bulk items such as grand piano, luxury TV set and mattresses. This is according to a recent study by Wellness Heaven and published by: www.insights.ehotelier. com However, what is most worrisome is that this development is not limited to Europe and other parts of the world alone but also rampant in Nigeria.
A number of hoteliers spoken to by Saturday Telegraph expressed concerns over the high rate of pilfering of such items as face and body towels, tea cups and pots, wine glasses and drinking glasses, soap and other toiletries and in some extreme cases bed linens, compressor of air conditioners and boards of TV set.
Wellness Heaven in the study polled 1,157 hoteliers on most commonly stolen items from the rooms, with particular reference on the attitude or behavoiur of guests in 4-star and 5-star hotels. The main result of the study: The overwhelming majority of guests steal towels and bathrobes- perhaps as goodies for the next spa break? These two objects of desire are closely followed by hangers, pens, and cutlery. In addition to these “ordinary” items, there are a number of spectacular outliers that suggest a brisk imagination of the delinquents.
Items in this category are bathroom fittings, with the head of a rain shower, a hydro massage shower, a toilet seat, a drainpipe or even an entire sink, rating high as reported by a Berlin hotel. In Italy, an hotelier reported the missing of a grand piano.
“Once I walked through the lobby, I noticed that something was missing, and soon after I learned that three unknown men in overalls had taken away the grand piano, and it never reappeared, of course,” said the hotelier. In England, an hotelier reported the missing of room numbers from the hotel room door. “We didn’t notice until the next guest could not find his room,” said the hotel director.
While in a hotel in France, a guest was caught trying to steal a stuffed boar’s head. At a later date, he did receive this trophy: friends bought the precious piece from the hotel and gave it to him as a wedding gift. In a hotel near Salzburg, the wooden benches from a sauna were stolen. The “private sauna” was located on the terrace of a spa suite.
The benches were made of fragrant pine wood, which probably stirred the guest’s desire. Only when a subsequent guest criticised the absence of the benches that the hotelier noticed the theft. Some of other items on the list included entire stereo system stolen from the spa area as reported by an hotelier in Germany, with the thieves said to have dismantled the entire sound equipment overnight and loaded it in their car before they left. Stealing of flowers was reported from a resort in Maldives. But when classifying the delinquents by nationality, a different picture emerges.
It turns out, for example, that German and British hotel guests follow a rather boring theft behaviour: In addition to towels and bathrobes, primarily cosmetics and toiletries are in the focus. In contrast, Austrians snitch in a more pleasure-oriented way: dishes and coffee machines appear high up in their theft ranking.
For Americans, pillows and batteries appear as the prime objects of desire. Italians seem to prefer wine glasses as a hotel souvenir, while the hairdryer ranks high up in the Swiss ranking. The French, on the other hand, steal in a more spectacular manner: they represent the nation that is attracted mainly to TV sets and remote controls. Dutch hotel guests’ favourites include light bulbs and toilet paper.
A total of 634 hoteliers from 4-star hotels and 523 from 5-star hotels were surveyed to determine the behaviour of thieves depending on their wealth. As it turns out, “Greed is good” seems to be a reliable motto especially for the well-heeled 5-star clientele. The probability of high-quality TV sets being stolen in 5-star hotels is 9 times higher in comparison to the 4-star segment.
Similarly, artworks are popular objects of desire in luxury hotels (5.5 times higher theft probability)s. Tablet computers and mattresses are also being stolen a lot more frequently in 5-star hotels. 4-star hotel guests are content with less spectacular gifts: towels and hangers tend to be in higher demand than in 5-star hotels. The typical 4-star hotel guest is especially fond of practical items such as batteries and remote controls.
The coffeemaker, which is so popular among Austrian guests, is also soughtafter by luxury-minded 5-star guests, as we observe a 5.3-fold increase in theft statistics. Hoteliers’ theft reports about toilet paper rolls only come from the 4-star segment. For luxury travellers, there seems to be no additional need for hygiene in this area. Tablet computers, often referred to as “SuitePads” in the high-priced room categories, are stolen 8.2 times more frequently in 5-star hotels.
Such tablets usually have a value of approx. 420 euros and tend to be popular souvenirs among luxury travellers. Even expensive luxury mattresses, often worth several thousand euros, are not immune to disappear: the probability for their theft is 8.1 times higher in 5-star hotels. Some hoteliers informed that carting away of bulky items only happens in the middle of the night – using elevators, which lead directly to the underground parking. Some luxury oriented guests add the hotel’s blanket to their luggage.
Theft of this object is 3.9-fold increased in 5-star hotels. The survey was conducted in September and October 2019, with 634 hoteliers surveyed in the 4-star segment, and 523 in the 5-star segment. Giving insight into the situation in Nigeria, Gbenga Dauud Sumonu, who is the Managing Consultant, Complete Hospitality Services Limited and the First Vice President of Nigerian Hotel and Catering Institute (NHCI), said stealing of items in hotel rooms is becoming alarming. ‘‘It is very alarming now because they see it as picking souvenirs and no more as theft, which makes the situ- ation really bad for the hotels,’’ he said, adding that: ‘‘They pick towels as souvenirs.’’
Other items listed by him include: Wine glasses, cutlers, tea cups and tea pots in the rooms as well as room brochures and directories. While soap, body cream, shampoo, body cream, taste paste and brush and shower cap and other toiletries meant for use in the rooms by the guests are often taken away by them. On stealing of bigger items, Sumonu said: ‘‘It is not common to have a guest steal a bigger item like bed sheet and other movable items. But sometimes when the bed sheets are multiple layers they tend to steal one from it.’’
While confirming the prevalence of theft of items listed by Sumonu, the Chief Executive Officer and Managing Director of Compass Hotels and Suites Limited, Samson Aturu, who is also the President of Hospitality and Tour ism Management Association of Nigeria (HATMAN), however, stated that in from the mid-1980s to 1990s stealing of bigger items was very rampant in hotel rooms in Nigeria.
Such items as compressor of air conditioners and boards of television set, he said top the list of bulky items stolen by guests. On the gender aspect of such theft, Sumonu and Aturu said that female guests are the most guilty, saying that a number of them usually accompany the male guests. On strategies to curb the prevalence, Sumonu said it is to apply the standard check out procedure and also increase surveillance and use of CCTV.
In addition, Aturu said hotels put notices on the doors of the room cautioning guests on theft of items in the room. ‘‘Standard check out practice, third eye by using the CCTV, security alertness by the staff. And when a guest comes in with a small bag and is checking out with a big bag you have to be suspicious, ‘’ said Sumonu.
‘‘One of the strategies we use is putting notices in the rooms, at the back of the door to let guests know that every item in the room is for their comfort,’’ said Aturu, adding that: ‘‘Another measure is checking out procedure.
When you are checking out, it is very essential that you should notify the receptionist and the receptionist will now instruct the porter or the page boy to go and assist with your luggage and in the process verify to see that all the amenities are intact. ‘‘We also have plainclothes security men who are positioned at different corridors of the hotel. Most of the times the guests do not even known that they are security men.’’