Within minutes of last month’s bombings at the Boston Marathon, city hotels went on high alert, thanks to the Boston chapter of the International Lodging Safety and Security Association.
Notification of the dire situation via email and text messages to the hotels came from the Intelligence Network operated by Boston’s Hotel Security Association, a public-private law enforcement partnership founded in 1972, according to Michael Soper, chairman.
I’ve been hearing so much about the success of public-private partnerships lately—from ORC to higher ed security. Lessons worth hearing.
Twelve minutes after the bombings, hotels received this directive from Boston police:
“Institute your security protocols and immediately shelter in place.”
“The order was clear and direct,” Soper said. “ This was not a drill, this was not a precaution, the threat was real and eminent. They didn’t know where the bombers were, or if they had more devices. They were concerned with large groups of people gathering. Hotels by their very nature are soft targets.”
Three nearby hotels, the Charlesmark, Lenox and Mandarin Oriental were within feet of the bombings; all three were evacuated. The Lenox was subsequently taken over by police and the FBI as a command post. The Westin Copley Place became the HQ for media briefings.
Throughout the investigation, “timely and accurate information” was provided to the hotels, said Soper, who was responsible for dispatching that information.
"From the moment the bombings occurred, I knew that our hotels would be expecting accurate information about what was happening and guidance as we moved forward," said Soper. "We were lucky to have one of our Boston police partners on the scene almost immediately. I was literally getting direction from the scene amidst all of the chaos and getting that information out to our members as quickly as possible."
For the next four days, Soper followed the regional manhunt for the bombing suspects from a temporary command center outside the city, he said, monitoring police radio transmissions, Twitter feeds from local, state and federal law enforcement agencies, and updates from local and national media outlets.
"We judge our successes and failures largely upon the opinions and the experiences of our guests while in our hotels. I can say with certainty, we were successful in our mission of keeping our hotels well informed with accurate and timely information. In turn, our guests were kept safe, well informed and more importantly, well cared for during the crisis," he said.
"We have a system and it works," said H. Skip Brandt, ILSSA executive director. "We are proud to be part of one of the best Public-Private Law Enforcement Partnerships in the country.”