Tag Archives: Hotel Guest

Pooling Responsibilities

Almost everyone going on holiday to a warm climate will, at some point, end up in a swimming pool. But the ‘do not dive’ signs and depth warnings don’t always have the desired effect, added to which are huge variations in safety laws. Robin Gauldie assesses the dangers lurking in the depthshotel pool,underwater swimming, pool safety

Clearly, there are risks associated with swimming or even paddling on beaches where strong currents, tides and freak waves can take their toll, as can irresponsible use of powered beach toys like personal watercraft, banana boats and water skis (see ITIJ 193, February 2017, The fast and the furious … and the fatal). Yet swimming pools at resort hotels and holiday villas may ultimately be riskier than beaches for vacationers and their insurers. Travelers from countries such as Australia and the UK, where safety standards are rigorous, need to be made aware that such standards are not universal.
“As Australia has such strict water safety rules, some people assume swimming areas are safe everywhere in the world,” comments Richard Warburton, chief operating officer of 1Cover Travel Insurance, an Australian insurer. “The truth is, many popular overseas destinations, such as Thailand and Bali, just don’t have the same safety protocols in place, and holidaymakers may be at greater risk when swimming. For example, pool gates are virtually non-existent in many Asian and European destinations.”

Resort pools seem to provoke risky behaviour in a significant number of holidaymakers too. Each holiday season brings a crop of media stories covering accidents – sometimes fatal – involving tourists jumping into hotel pools from balconies, or diving into shallow pools. “Some people, particularly young adult males, take risks they wouldn’t normally take if they were at home,” says Warburton. “They don’t think of consequences.” There is an ongoing need to make insureds aware that travel insurance has its limits, he adds.

In Europe particularly, the craze known as ‘balconing’ is often a result of an alcohol-fuelled night out giving holidaymakers a sense of invincibility. Warburton, though, warns: “One of the most common misconceptions people have about travel insurance is in relation to alcohol consumption. If an accident happens and a person is under the influence, they may not be able to successfully make a claim, depending on the circumstances. This is why we encourage customers to thoroughly read all the terms and conditions of their policy. We strive to be as transparent as we can, educating customers about all facets of the policies. We want to ensure people fully understand what their policy covers them for, so they can make properly informed decisions.”

According to Megan Freedman, executive director of the US Travel Insurance Association, insurers in the US would be unlikely to turn down claims for the costs of medical treatment or assistance arising from such accidents on the sole grounds of recklessness. “Claims would not be excluded based on irresponsible behavior. However, a claim may be denied if the cause was use of alcohol or drugs, intentional self-infliction of harm or an illegal act,” she says. Some policies in the UK, by contrast, specifically exclude claims resulting from falls or jumps from balconies, as accidents and subsequently expensive medical claims resulting from such activities have arisen so often.

Preventing tragedies
Reckless teenagers, however hair-raising their escapades, are not the only source of claims arising from pool accidents. Even in destinations that are famed for their beaches and long coastlines, such as Greece or the Algarve, almost all drownings of young children occur in swimming pools, according to the European Child Safety Alliance (ECSA). In Australia, too, tourist-related swimming pool deaths involving very young children continue to be of concern, according to the Australian Water Safety Council (AWSC). The organisation has called on the tourism industry to implement water safety and risk management plans in resorts and hotels, including signage, effective barriers and education programs.
In many destinations, most such drownings occur in pools at private residences, but a significant number happen in the pools of resort hotels or holiday villas, as is the case with the much more numerous non-fatal accidents that take place in and around swimming pools each holiday season. The ECSA has estimated that for every child fatality, there may be as many as 140 near-drownings resulting in hospital admissions.

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Filed under Guest Issues, Hotel Industry, Injuries, Pool And Spa, Risk Management

Mitigating the Risk of Food-Borne Illnesses at Hotels

Think of a hotel located near a stretch of bucolic farmland. Picture the large fields of crops, cows and sheep grazing behind picturesque fences. While this may seem like a calm and relaxing scenario, one that attracts guests eager to get a taste of the country life, they could be getting a mouthful of something much less appetizing. Flies are abundant in areas with livestock, and, unfortunately, can transmit food-borne diseases.

Ron Harrison, Ph.D., a technical services director at pest control specialist Orkin, is currently working with a number of hotels suffering from pest problems, and, as a result, compromised food safety. “Hotels have to do everything they can to ensure that pests don’t enter the property, because they can cause food-related illnesses if they get access to the property’s food supply,” Harrison says.

food borne

Pests are just one of many factors that can affect food safety and spread food-borne illnesses, which are a major issue in the United States. Francine Shaw, president of Food Safety Training Solutions, a company that offers food-related consulting and training services, says that food poisoning affects one in six Americans every year. And, in that same time frame, it also causes the hospitalization of 120,000 people and leads to 3,000 deaths. “It seems like every time we turn on the television, pick up a newspaper, or read the news online, there’s another outbreak. But the amazing thing is that the huge, multi-state outbreaks spotlighted in the news are only responsible for 11 percent of all food-borne illnesses,” she explains.

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Filed under Business Interruption Insurance, Claims, Food Illnesses, Guest Issues, Health, Hotel Employees, Hotel Industry, Hotel Restaurant, Management And Ownership, Risk Management

Join Petra Risk Solutions at CH&LA’s S.A.F.E Forum & Expo

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Filed under Conferences, Crime, Guest Issues, Hotel Employees, Hotel Industry, Risk Management, Theft, Training

Safety & Security Tips for Hotel Management

Providing an accommodating atmosphere that doesn’t compromise safety is the biggest challenge that hotels face. Achieving these goals requires a multifaceted plan that starts with staff training and guest education about safety and security issues. Management must also consistently enforce established security policies, such as allowing only registered guests on hotel property. Constant planning to stay ahead of these issues is also a must, especially when the hotel hosts public events.

hotel security

Control Access
Controlling access is an important part of hotel security planning to prevent criminals from stealing money and valuables from guest rooms. Management must train contractors and staff in controlling room key distribution and restricting access to registered guests only. During off-hours, security personnel should be stationed at all main access points to greet people, while deterring anyone with no business on the property, including disruptive or intoxicated non-guests.

 

Educate Guests
Hotel staff has a responsibility to educate guests about safety and security responsibilities. The challenge is getting the message across without negatively affecting the customer’s experience. For example, the bellman can stress the importance of locking hotel room doors to prevent strangers from entering. Front desk clerks can also discourage guests from actions that leave them vulnerable to thieves, such as flashing room keys or yelling room numbers across the lobby.

Patrol Public Areas
Technology has come a long way in helping hotels to upgrade basic security measures. Closed-circuit TV cameras with recording systems are essential for securing such busy public spaces as bars, docks, lounges, and parking lots. However, these areas also allow open access for disruptive persons, muggers and pickpockets. Active monitoring of the camera images by staff and proper lighting reduces the opportunities for such crimes. Offering a security concierge to escort guests also minimizes the risk of non-assaultive crimes, such as luggage thefts.

Advance Measures
Communicating basic safety and security measures becomes even more important at public events such as conventions, where travelers may feel as if they’re leaving real world dangers behind. To head off problems, management should send advance communiques to event attendees. The notices should contain basic safety tips, such as the need for locking doors, not leaving cellphones and laptops unattended, and being alert in public areas.

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Next-Gen Leaders Must Be Open to Change

This year’s Asian American Hotel Owners Association convention was all about success and how to achieve positive performance in an era of new brand launches, generational leadership change, and external disruptors.

Mike Leven, president and COO of Las Vegas Sands Corporation and an original organizer of what would become AAHOA, kicked off Thursday’s general session with a call to action for the rising tide of second-generation Asian-American hoteliers who are growing their own footprints in the business.

Change

“What happens when you are successful?” he asked. “You stop doing what made you get there in the first place, and that’s where the danger comes in.”

Leven said that as the industry faces change, the next generation of leaders must change with it, especially if they hope to be successful during downturns.

“The status quo is a prescription for failure,” he said. “You have a responsibility to continue to be dynamic in the search for change, for doing things different, for not being satisfied.”

Hotel franchise company executives echoed those statements on Thursday’s “Industry CEOs” panel and encouraged members to continue to be involved in their franchise organizations and the larger industry.

The CEOs shared insight into consumer trends, highlighting why creating excellent guest experiences will translate into strong bottom-line performance.

“We see people choosing experience over product—we see this in retail, in consumer products and certainly in travel,” said Mark Hoplamazian, president and CEO of Hyatt Hotels Corporation. “The idea that the product has to be perfect is weakening. Instead, people are looking for a holistic, experiential time.”

He advised attendees to make sure they’re creating those shareable experiences for guests.

Hilton Worldwide Holdings President and CEO Chris Nassetta echoed that sentiment that guests are all about experience these days. He told attendees that creating positive cultures at the hotel level are what will make those experiences great.

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Filed under Guest Issues, Hotel Industry, Maintenance, Management And Ownership, Social Media, Technology, Training

Legionella: A Growing Problem in the Hospitality Industry

Legionella bacteria were identified in 1976 as the cause of Legionnaires’ disease (a deadly pneumonia) and Pontiac fever. More recently, rates of contamination and infection have been on the rise across the United States and around the world. Not only are there new, unexpected sources of contamination, but also drinking water sources and infrastructure (in addition to premise plumbing) have been implicated in the increased spread of Legionella. In order to avoid expensive, public evacuation and closure, hotel operators are beginning to monitor their facilities for Legionella contamination.

legionella

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), Legionella infection has a 5 to 30 percent mortality rate and is responsible for at least 8,000 to 18,000 U.S. hospitalizations each year. The sick and elderly are most vulnerable, but anyone is susceptible. Each week there are new reports of Legionella contamination in hotels, cruise ships, and hospitals that has resulted in closure for remediation. Several high-profile deadly outbreaks have occurred recently, including one around Flint, Mich., (nine deaths) associated with its lead contamination. Twelve deaths from Legionnaires’ contracted at a hotel in the South Bronx last summer prompted New York State to pass a regulation on the monitoring of cooling towers for Legionella. Because contamination is intensifying—The Lancet reported a 219 percent increase in reported cases of infection during 2000-2009—incidents like these, and subsequent regulations like New York’s, are expected to become more common.

Legionella prefers warm, wet environments, but because it can grow in a wide range of temperatures and conditions, it is ubiquitous in both natural and industrial environments. Infection occurs after inhalation, so any process that creates fine water droplets or aerosols (evaporative condensers, showers, spas, pools, decorative water features, or sprinklers) can spread Legionella. More unusual cases of infection have occurred as well. Recently, The New England Journal of Medicine reported strong evidence of person-to-person transmission. Grocery store produce misters in the United States and abroad have caused outbreaks when not cleaned regularly. Particularly surprising was the spread of Legionella through communities in Spain by street paving and cleaning trucks, resulting in 59 cases and 11 deaths. In these cases, identifying, removing, and cleaning the vehicles responsible ended the outbreaks.

In its Hotel Safety and Security Assessment Form, the American Hotel & Lodging Association (AH&LA) recommends that procedures be in place to monitor and mitigate Legionella. It is essential to detect the bacteria early with a rapid, on-site test, allowing prompt, targeted treatment. This will minimize the risk of more extensive contamination leading to closure and undesirable publicity, or worse, infection of employees or guests. However, the Legionella detection methods currently in use fail to meet all of the above criteria. Culturing, the method recommended by ASHRAE Standard 188-2015 for building water systems, is generally accurate and quantitative, but very slow (one to two weeks), and, for multiple reasons, plagued by false negatives. PCR is faster, though not rapid (8-24 hours), not quantitative, and is subject to both false positives and negatives. Both methods are elaborate and expensive, cannot be performed on-site, and require scientific training. Strip tests are simple, but not quantitative, and do not detect all of the deadly species of Legionella.

A new method being adopted by hotel chains and cruise lines, called immunomagnetic separation capture enzyme immunoassay (IMS-CEIA), meets the need for a fast, on-site Legionella test without the disadvantages of the other methods. With minimal training, it can be used by facility employees to monitor water systems and cooling towers, so that when necessary, prompt action can be taken while a subset of samples are sent for confirmation by culture testing.

The continued global expansion of Legionella contamination and outbreaks has heightened the need for preventive monitoring by the hospitality industry. Incorporation of a testing program that can be performed on-site by hotel staff will enable rapid, targeted mitigation.

For more: http://bit.ly/1M0iYSv

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Filed under Claims, Health, Hotel Industry, Management And Ownership, Risk Management

Infographic: How to Detect Bed Bugs

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Filed under Bed Bugs, Guest Issues, Hotel Employees, Hotel Industry, Maintenance, Management And Ownership, Risk Management, Technology, Training

Workplace Violence – How to Deal with a Disgruntled Ex-Employee

violence
You are an executive working intently in your office when your assistant calls and informs you that a disgruntled ex-employee has shown up at the facility with a weapon and is threatening violence.  Will you know what to do, or better yet, what not to do?

 

Workplace violence can be defined as any act that creates intimidating, hostile, and offensive or a threatening work environment through unwelcome words, actions or physical contact.  As we have seen on multiple occasions, workplace violence and active shooter occurrences have been on a steady incline in this country.  Are you and your company prepared?

There are two types of workplace violence that need to be taken into consideration. First is the external variety – criminal activity from a non-employee, client or customer.  Second is the internal variety of a problem employee, employee personal relationship, hostile individual due to disciplinary actions or a facility closing.  Be prepared by taking some very easy measures:

  • Have a  written policy that is known throughout your organization
  • Take the position of ‘no tolerance’ for this activity
  • Train employees and provide ongoing training
  • Make sure your plan protects first, then concentrates on compliance
  • Understand and effectively communicate the legal implications

The potential deadly situations are reasonably foreseeable and this should be the standard used for compliance and determination of liability. Understand what data you need to assist in the prevention of workplace violence.  You not only have a legal responsibility but the obligation to your workforce.  Negligent hiring, high-risk terminations, retention, security, and poor training open you and your organization to the possibility of a workplace violence incident.  Human resources plays a key role in your workplace violence plan through effective pre-employment screening, establishing discrete communications channels, an Employee Assistance Program and coordination with your security personnel regarding response plans.

Do not allow yourself to make these five critical mistakes:

  • Denial and avoidance
  • Not having a threat response plan
  • Acting too hastily
  • Lack of total workforce participation
  • Insufficient assessment process

Coordinate a case assessment team and make sure they understand their purpose, make-up, objectives, and documentation measures.  The need to recognize the behavioral warning signs that signal potential trouble and that evaluation of behavior is not ‘profiling’.

Protective measures include:

  • A facility security audit
  • Obtaining local crime statistics
  • Recording a history of incidents
  • Personnel training
  • General security awareness training
  • An established liaison with local law enforcement.

Remember, ignorance does not relieve an organization of responsibility.  In summation, an organization has a Duty of Care responsibility to their employees and must plan, train, recognize, manage and respond to this growing problem within the business community.

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Filed under Crime, Hotel Employees, Hotel Industry, Labor Issues, Management And Ownership, Risk Management, Training

What the Erin Andrews Lawsuit Means for Hoteliers

erin andrews

A jury’s decision this week to award sportscaster Erin Andrews $55 million in a civil suit against her stalker and the owner and management company of the Nashville hotel in which the man secretly videotaped her will have repercussions for the hotel industry for years to come, sources said.

In 2008, Michael David Barrett recorded Andrews while she was nude through the peephole of her hotel guestroom at the Nashville Marriott at Vanderbilt University. Barrett, who later pleaded guilty to felony stalking in 2009, discovered which room was Andrews’ and reversed the peephole in the door to see inside. The jury in Andrews’ civil suit found Barrett, as well as the owner of the hotel, West End Hotel Partners, and the management company, Windsor Capital Group, to be responsible.

Andrews had originally included Marriott International in her original suit; however, the court in Tennessee found that Marriott had no liability in the case, and dismissed it.

Stephen Barth, a professor of hospitality law at the Conrad N. Hilton College of Hotel and Restaurant Management at the University of Houston and founder of hospitalitylawyer.com, testified on behalf of the defense during the civil trial. The defendants in this case did what they were supposed to do, Barth said in an interview with HNN, and he believes that because the companies were focused and diligent on their policies, procedures and employee training, it gave the jury members pause during their deliberations.

With the outcome of the case, Barth stressed that just as before, it’s important for hoteliers to have the right policies and procedures in place as well as the proper training for staff to deal with guest privacy issues.

“You need to be able to demonstrate the training that went on, the frequency and outcomes,” Barth said. “How do you evaluate whether the training was effective? Ultimately, you have to be able to demonstrate this in a courtroom.”

Policies, procedures and training

David Samuels, partner at Michelman & Robinson, said one of the issues that jumped out at him in following the trial was whether the management company had the proper policies and procedures in place regarding guest privacy. He said he believes several jury members were bothered by the testimony of some hotel staff who couldn’t recall having those policies. Samuels followed the trial but was not directly involved in it.
At this point, all owners and operators should review how they’re running their properties and whether they have specific written policies and procedures in place.

“They need to have those and effectively train the staff on it,” Samuels said.

Along with having those policies in place, hoteliers should regularly update those policies based on legal developments, such as the Andrews case, according to Sylvia St. Clair, an associate with Faegre Baker Daniels. If there’s any question about whether a policy is in compliance with the law or industry standards, she said, contact legal counsel or the human resources department.

“Then ensure (that) new hires receive that training as well as existing employees,” she said.

If a front-desk associate receives a request for a guest’s private information, such as his or her guestroom number, St. Clair said the associate should know not to give that information out unless he or she is authorized to do so. The associate should know to contact his or her manager or supervisor with questions.

“You want a statement to give to (anyone) requesting information,” St. Clair said. “Make sure employees know if they are receiving these types of requests, and the person requesting is continually asking, they shouldn’t hesitate to get their manager or GM involved.”

After completing the training, St. Clair said, document the training in employees’ files to show they received the latest version of the policy and understand it.

House phone access

During the civil trial, there was a dispute over how Andrews stalker learned which guest room was hers, Samuels said.
Andrews attorneys argued her stalker learned from the front-desk staff, an allegation the associates denied during the trial. Her stalker, Barrett, said in a taped deposition that he figured out Andrews room number by using an internal house phone at the hostess stand in the hotel restaurant.

“Those are only supposed to be used by employees,” Samuels said.

Barrett called the front desk and asked to speak with Andrews, Samuels said, and when the line was connected, Andrews room number appeared on the phone’s LCD screen. Barrett then went to her floor, saw the room next to hers was being turned over and then requested at the front desk to be in that room.

“From a privacy standpoint, from a safety standpoint, hotel guests should never be allowed to use an internal house phone that displays the room number on an LCD screen,” Samuels said.

If guests need a house phone, he said, they should be directed to one without an LCD screen and it should connect to an operator.

Similarly, hotel employees should be aware of who may be looking over their shoulders when using phones that display room numbers, he said.

Red flags

In the plaintiff’s closing argument, Andrews attorneys asked why the front-desk staff was not more critical about someone asking for a specific room, especially one next door to Andrews, according to Christian Stegmaier, a shareholder at Collins & Lacy. Stegmaier followed the case but was not directly involved in it.
That argument might presume too much about Andrews’ fame at the time, he said, as the front-desk associate may not have put two and two together.

“The takeaway from all of that is when you have a prospective guest making very specific requests, like about specific rooms, you need to be critical (of it),” he said.

Asking some gentle questions might allow the associate to learn a little more about the person making the request and why that specific room is so important to them, Stegmaier said.

“From a management perspective, you need to empower your associates to use that kind of critical thinking,” he said. “You want to encourage that.”

That is doubly important when the front-desk staff is aware of any celebrities or dignitaries staying in the hotel, Samuels said. Any requests for a specific room adjacent to such guests should send up a “big, red flag,” he said.

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Filed under Crime, Employee Practices, Guest Issues, Hotel Employees, Hotel Industry, Liability, Management And Ownership, Privacy, Risk Management, Training

Lawsuit Alert – Hotels Renting to Minors

minor

CH&LA alerted its members last year that legal claims were being asserted against numerous lodging properties for refusing to rent to unaccompanied minors. The person at the center of most of those claims (Jonathan Asselin-Normand) is continuing his long-running campaign against California lodging properties raising such claims.

As CH&LA has repeatedly advised its members, both the California Unruh Civil Rights Act and the Fair Employment and Housing Act prohibit blanket policies denying accommodations to people solely because they are unaccompanied minors.  The minimum damages for violating the Unruh Act is $4,000, plus attorney’s fees.

However, where a minor unaccompanied by an adult seeks accommodations, hotel staff may require a parent or guardian of the minor, or another responsible adult, to assume, in writing, full liability for any and all proper charges and other obligations incurred by the minor for accommodations, food and beverages, and other services provided by or through the innkeeper, as well as for any and all injuries or damage caused by the minor to any person or property. California Code 1865(d)(1).

What Members Should Do ASAP:

  • Review your policies, and if you have a blanket policy against accommodating unaccompanied minors, change that policy to comply with the law.
  • If your policy is on your web site or otherwise in your marketing materials, delete all reference to it.
  • Make sure all staff members know that your hotel does not have a blanket prohibition against accepting unaccompanied minors.  Be sure to constantly remind them of this fact.
  • Check with your third-party booking entities to see what, if anything, they say about your hotel’s policies involving minors and children.  Be sure that they comply with the law.
  • Consider utilizing a written form with a responsible party acknowledging their liability for the minor.  Please click here for a sample.

If you have questions about this, feel free to contact CH&LA’s Member Legal Advisor, Jim Abrams, at jim@calodging.com.

For more information: http://bit.ly/1QPre4h

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