On Hotel Accommodation And Safety

First and foremost, if you’re attending 44CON, please add this phone number to your contacts list, under “44CON”. It’s our at-event emergency crew contact number:

+44 (0)7955 376 729

Recent events in Las Vegas as a result of policy changes following the Mandalay Bay shooting seriously affected some of our attendees visiting the city for conferences in early August. We watched from a distance in abject horror as people routinely had their privacy and safety compromised by aggressive security teams demanding entry to rooms and confiscating soldering irons and lockpicks, some of which we understand haven’t been returned to their owners.

While we completely understand the need to beef up security in the shadow of yet another mass shooting in America, the horrific stories that unfolded on twitter made us ask ourselves what we were doing to ensure that such invasions of safety and privacy don’t happen here.

To that end, we’ve done two things:

  1. We’ve asked the ILEC’s attached hotel under what terms they’ll enter rooms booked there.
  2. We’ve set up an emergency contact number you can call to reach the crew at any time during the event.

In the UK there are reasons under which your hotel room can be forcefully entered, but generally it shouldn’t need to happen unless your stay is longer than a few days and you’ve left the Do Not Disturb tag on your door. This is partly to check that you’re still alive, and also to check you haven’t trashed the hotel room. From the ILEC:

We do not access guests rooms apart from cleaning. If the Do not disturb sign is displayed up to 3 days we do not enter but after that we have to check. Initially we would ring the room and if the guest answers we would ask to go and see the room if it is inacceptable[sic] conditions ( as in damages).

If there is a fire evacuation the fire marshals will go floor by floor and knock and open the rooms for people to evacuate as they can be asleep.

The only other reason for someone to enter the room by force would be if the police or fire service needed to enter in an emergency.

The author of this post is a man, but the 44CON crew are a mix of men and women. If you’re struggling to see why this is primarily a safety rather than privacy issue, I think Joe Fitz summed things up best in this twitter thread:

“I sympathize with @maddiestone and @k8em0 ‘s experiences but realize I can’t possibly know how terrified they probably felt.”

Once again, that emergency crew number is:

+44 (0)7955 376 729

If you’re attending 44CON, please add this number to your contacts. It’ll only be active during the event, but someone will have the phone 24×7. Please don’t abuse this number, as it may block the line for someone who needs it.

Fundamentally, your safety is the most important thing to us. If we can’t get that right, nothing else matters. While we don’t expect problems, should anything happen that could compromise your safety:

  1. If you’re in your room and something is happening outside, make sure the room is locked. Do not let anyone into your room if you don’t want to.
  2. Dial reception on the in-room phone and tell them what’s happening, and what you need them to do.
  3. Let us know something’s happened via email so we can track it, regardless of whether it’s been resolved.
  4. If it’s unresolved, or you feel your safety is being threatened then call +44 (0)7955 376 729. We’ll sort things out from there.
  5. In case you need it, please remember that the emergency services number is 999 in the UK, not 911. 112 will also work.

We don’t expect anyone to need this, but if you do, we’ll do our best to keep you safe.