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Stay Safe at Conventions

May 24, 2012

Traveling to a convention—whether juggling suitcases, stowing valuables in hotel rooms, or wandering a strange neighborhood wearing an attendee badge—can make you vulnerable to pickpockets, theft, and other crimes. Following these tips may help keep your next convention experience safe and secure.

Before You Leave Home

Strip your wallet of any credit or debit cards, identification, etc. that you don’t absolutely require for your trip. Then take photos of the cards you’re taking. This is an easy way to access card numbers if you need to report them stolen.

Take photos of any jewelry you’re taking as well, in case you need to file an insurance claim. Better yet, leave anything valuable at home!
When packing for your trip, include a small flashlight and a rubber doorstop—you’ll find out why in the next section.

Arriving at Your Hotel

If you catch a taxi at the airport, make sure it is a licensed cab. Is it clearly marked? Is the driver’s registration visible? In some cities, unregistered drivers may solicit business. Getting in one of these illegal vehicles can result in being overcharged, robbed, or worse.

When you get to your hotel, arrive with safety in mind. Request a room with a safe, and then use it for the duration of your stay. Stow electronics, jewelry and other valuables every time you leave the room. As soon as you get to your room, give it a once-over for:

  • A working safe
  • Secure door locks, including at least one that can’t be opened with a key card
  • Floor map with fire exits

Place your flashlight on a nightstand in case of a power outage, and use your doorstop to jam the door closed once you’re in for the night.

Be aware of who is riding in the elevator with you. It’s a good habit to stand near the buttons of the elevator rather than moving to the rear of the car to make room for others. That way you maintain some control over stopping the elevator or calling for help.

Also be aware of other people in the hallway on your floor as you’re arriving. If you feel you’re being followed, don’t go to your room alone. Head for the lobby and ask for a hotel bellman to escort you to your room.

Attending the Convention

Any time you’re out of town, make sure your mobile phone is charged at all times, even if it means plugging your charger in during sessions. You don’t want to be stuck in a new town with no phone service.

When traveling outside the convention facility, remove your name badge—an obvious indicator that you’re from out of town, likely traveling alone, and carrying cash.

Before you leave your hotel or the convention, know where you’re going (your smartphone can help with this—but load your locations in advance). If you get lost, ask someone trustworthy, such as a security guard or a hotel concierge.

If you are walking alone and feel uneasy, make or take a phone call as you go. Assailants may be less likely to attack if the potential victim is in mid-conversation. Or, try to travel in a group. 

Follow these basic steps on your next business trip, and make them a habit every time you travel—you’ll decrease the risks that come with travel. And, as always, pay attention to your surroundings at every stage of your trip. That’s the single most important safety tip, no matter where you are.

Much of the information here is taken from safety expert Andrew Wooten’s video REALTOR® Safety at Conventions, which can be found at REALTOR.org/Safety along with other free safety resources.

(Source: Andrew Wooten’s REALTOR® Safety at Conventions video, 2011)

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