Hospitality is a people business. This makes the safety of our guests and the people who care for them our first priority.
Unfortunately, our workers can be vulnerable to personal harm caused by another individual, be it a guest; a visitor to a property like a vendor, service person or delivery person; or, even, another staff member.
We are especially concerned for the safety of those who often work in isolation within a property and have reason to enter a guest room. This includes housekeepers, maintenance staff and room service attendants. Upon entry they might encounter rude, insulting or outright malicious guests one-on-one.
The situation can become dangerous, as the #MeToo and #TimesUp campaigns have highlighted with respect to harassment inside hotel rooms. And we must remember, any unwelcome advance is a form of harassment, no matter how innocently portrayed by the instigator.
Fortunately, the hotel industry is placing renewed emphasis on this core aspect of operations. In September 2018, the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) and leadership from Hilton, Hyatt, IHG, Marriott, and Wyndham introduced the 5-Star Promise aimed at enhancing hotel safety, including preventing and responding to sexual harassment and assault.
As reported by Lodging Magazine a number of other brands signed on, including AccorHotels, Best Western Hotels & Resorts, Caesars Entertainment, Four Season Hotels and Resorts, G6 Hospitality, Las Vegas Sands Corp, Loews Hotels & Co, Montage International, Outrigger Hotels and Resorts, Radisson Hotel Group, RLH Corporation, and Red Roof.
Focus on personal safety devices
A key component of the 5-Star Promise is to “provide U.S. hotel employees with employee safety devices to help them feel safe on the job.”
In all, as reported by Occupational Health & Safety trade journal, AHLA members have committed to providing U.S. hotel workers with portable panic buttons and implementing better policies, training, and resources aimed at hotel worker safety. U.S. hotels aim to have full implementation of panic buttons at all properties by 2020.
At the time of the 5-Star Promise, CNBC reported Chris Nassetta, president and CEO of Hilton, as saying, “In addition to implementing anti-harassment and anti-trafficking training across all 5,400+ of our properties, we have already deployed employee safety devices in New York, Washington D.C., Seattle and Chicago properties.”
Among these hospitality entities, G6 Hospitality, franchisor of Motel 6 and Studio 6 properties, further pledged to fast-track having devices in place for all team members. This February 2019, the company reported to PurpleCloud that, “G6 Hospitality is on track and ahead of schedule for our team members at owned and managed hotels to all have the PSDs, and we’ve required our franchise owners to purchase and implement them for their employees by end of the year.”
Meeting the challenge. PurpleCloud introduces PSD solution.
Identifying, acquiring and deploying the best personal safety devices, i.e. Panic Button, for any hospitality organization is a complex chore. Issues to consider include type of device, initial and ongoing costs, training requirement, assigning the devices and controlling inventory, user acceptance, the device’s localization capabilities and integration with other hotel information systems. Some of these topics were addressed in a recent Hotel Management article.
Among key issues are the modes of alarm (sound, cell phone, ability to record the incident, etc.) and whether an alarm system can issue graded alerts. For example, can the device distinguish between a staff member experiencing a medical emergency; being overcome by environment-specific issues like fumes from housekeeping chemicals or needing to report a fire; and impeding or actual assault by another individual. This approach can assist with emergency response and directing the appropriate resources as quickly as possible.
The PurpleCloud hospitality service software solution already incorporates a panic alert function through the device carried by a staff member like a housekeeper. Additionally, in response to industry needs, PurpleCloud is also introducing a standalone device, which can be carried by the staff member and function separately. Moreover, this new device can be fully integrated into existing hospitality service optimization software.
5 key steps in implementing a worker safety program.
Regardless of the personal safety device chosen, key elements of any worker safety program include the following.
• Have hospitality organization leadership and management on board with a comprehensive worker safety program and allocation of appropriate resources for the program.
• Choose a workable cost-effective device that has the desired features and that will integrate well with existing hotel management principles and practices.
• Develop a thorough training process for placing the devices into use.
• Have a solid emergency response system in place.
• Practice, practice, practice. Conduct regular emergency response drills. Also, should a “panic event” occur, be sure to incorporate any lessons learned into standard operating procedures.
Future PurpleCloud Blog posts will explore these principles of worker safety and, also, address human trafficking, another concern for the hospitality industry and one which it has pledged to help solve.
For now, in response to this responsibility and challenge of providing a safe and productive work place for hospitality staff, let’s not panic but take action.