Don't Become the Next Erin Andrews: Tips for a Safe Hotel Stay

Radisson said in a statement that: "Guess privacy and security are top priorities for Radisson Hotels and Resorts. The property involved in this alleged incident was a franchised hotel which left the Radisson system in September, 2008. As this issue is currently part of a criminal trial, we are unable to provide additional comment at this time."

The general manager at the hotel, now the Ramada Conference Center Hotel at the Milwaukee Airport, did not return calls seeking comment.

Simple Safety Steps

Most hotel guests probably aren't going to have people following them on vacation. But even non-celebrities can take a few simple steps to protect themselves and their belongings on a trip.

Joseph A. McInerney, president and CEO of the American Hotel & Lodging Association, said that the industry probably isn't going to be able to stop people from calling around to hotels to see if somebody has checked in. Most times, you are going to want such calls to go through to your room.

But he said hotels should not be honoring requests to stay next to certain guests unless they know of a connection.

"There's no reason to do that," McInerney said.

Hotel Safety Tips for Celebrities Work for Everyone

Guests should always use a chain lock, in addition to the deadbolt, to lock the door and protect the hotel room from people who might have master keys. Security experts advise using that extra lock at all times in the room, even when sleeping.

McInerney also said that if you ever question the identity of somebody knocking on your door, call down to the front desk.

But overall, he said, hotels are safe places to stay.

"In light of this incident, people should feel very comfortable in hotels. The guests and the employee safety is the number one priority of hotels and hotel companies," McInerney said. "We don't know all the allegations on this and what might have broken down, but we have roughly a million-and-a-half people every night staying at hotels. The incident level might be very, very, very minuscule."

Camera Recording Equipment Easy to Find

Safety starts in the lobby. When checking in, make sure that the front-desk clerk doesn't announce your room number.

"The lobby itself is a great place to commit a crime but is also a place where it's difficult to have your normal antenna up to be sensitive to crime," Falkenberg said. "Be really aware of people who are around you. You don't want other people in the lobby finding out what room you are in."

Just with that little bit of information, somebody could use a lobby phone, call your room and say the management is about to bring up a welcome gift, then knock on your door minutes later and have a gun in your face.

Today, stalkers can easily buy all sorts of tiny cameras and listening devices Falkenberg said.

For his corporate clients or celebrities worried about spying he suggests switching hotels or at least switching rooms frequently. For high-target clients, his staff will often book the adjacent room for added security. Never stay in rooms with connecting doors unless you know the person in that room, he suggested.

"The Erin Andrews case is an example of how easy it is to pull off crimes that previously had been in the era of James Bond," Falkenberg said. "It's not as though Barrett had access to NSA level equipment. He didn't. You can buy a large variety of items on the Internet. They're very, very small."

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