Real estate agents have several opportunities to attend conventions throughout the year. We often talk about safety while working, however, protecting yourself while attending conventions, while in hotels and touring new cities, is just as important. Please review the following tips and make them a part of your “Safety Plan” while attending your next convention.
1. Listen to your gut
If you have a bad feeling about a hotel, the location, the staff, or anything, listen to your gut. If something doesn’t seem right once you are in the room, listen to your instinct. If the staff or other visitors cause you concern, pay attention to your sixth sense. If the room is not in a secure location, i.e. heavy foot traffic, loitering outside entry door, or in an isolated part of the facility, ground floor location, ask for another room or change hotels. If you get a “funny feeling”, respect that feeling. That funny feeling is your built-in survival mechanism. Listen to it. Do not question it. Do not try to apply logic to the situation. Do not be concerned about hurting the front desk clerk’s feelings, this is your safety.
2. Have a communication/itinerary plan in place
Be sure you have at least one, (two is better), emergency contact. This contact will know your itinerary from the time you leave your local airport, or if driving, your route, your destination hotel, arrival times, event/trip schedule through the time that you get back home. They should have the phone number and address of your hotel. Check in on a regular basis. Update your contact with where you are and your plans for the day. Fax or email them a copy of your agenda. If there is a disaster wherever you are located, make sure friends and family know that they can reach out to your contact for updated information on your health, safety and whereabouts.
Utilize technology. There are several GPS-based apps that allow you to set up a contact list for emergencies. If you are in danger, you press the button and they receive an e-mail or text alerting that you are in danger, as well as your location. They are then able to contact law enforcement officials with your location. You can also have them check-in on a regular basis. They will send help if you don’t respond.
There are apps that also allow you to store emergency medical information. Also, consider medical bracelets which contain details about your allergies and other important medical information.
3. Secure your valuables
In the hotel room and while out and about. Utilize the hotel room safe or invest in diversion safes. A safe that looks like a book, can, or any ot her everyday item that hides your valuables. If you are not comfortable using their safe or if the hotel room doesn’t have a safe a diversion safe is a good second option.
When you leave your hotel room, give the impression that you are in the room, even when you are not. Leave a lamp and your television on. Or you can even put the “Do Not Disturb” sign on your door when you leave your room but be sure to make arrangements with housekeeping if you still want your room serviced.
When you are out and about outside the convention hall remember to take your badge off. Also carry as few credit cards or debit cards on you as possible. Remember to carry a copy of your passport and your ID. If you are a female, invest in a bag that can be worn across your body. If you are a male, carry your wallet in your front pocket. It makes it harder for someone to rob you without you realizing it.
Do not travel with expensive jewelry and do not openly flaunt or use your expensive electronics. If you have your smartphone out and visible, or your note book or net book, whether looking up information or taking pictures, the minute you are distracted, criminals are waiting to snatch these items from your grasp.
4. Secure your room
Use all of the locks on the door whenever you are in the room, especially the deadbolt. If you are still uncomfortable, bring and use your own portable travel locks. There is a doorstop alarm that prevents the door from opening and sounds an alarm if anyone tries. Many have a fear of someone entering their room and these devices make it impossible to do so. You can also utilize the “Do Not Disturb” sign as hotel staff takes that very seriously, however it will not always deter a criminal.
5. Pay attention to the emergency escape route
Many of us ignore the map located on the back of every hotel/motel room door. But we shouldn’t as it is there for our safety. Take the time to not only look at it, but also walk out into the hallway and look at the exit door. Make sure you know exactly where it is located. Imagine waking up to fire alarms and massive, blinding smoke. If you don’t already know where the exit doors are, you will not be able to find them in a crises situation.
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Source: Tracey Hawkins aka “Tracey, the Safety Lady” is a former real estate agent and has been teaching agent safety over the last 18 years. In 1995 Hawkins founded Safety and Security Source in Kansas City, Missouri and presents on topics including personal, home, auto, and real estate safety. She conducts training on these topics and more during webinars, expos, and live seminars around the United States. Hawkins was recently chosen as one of Kansas City’s Most Influential Women.
Visit NAR’s REALTOR® Safety website at REALTOR.org/Safety for more tips, articles, videos, and webinars.
This article is part of the National Association of REALTORS® 2013 REALTOR® Safety article series.