Tag Archives: Restaurants

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.


“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.

For more: http://bit.ly/1RXFL3R

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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.


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

New Robotic Exoskeleton Technology is Here From Panasonic

Mobility may be one of the most important elements in maintaining personal autonomy. And now, thanks to the incredible technology behind robotic exoskeletons, the elderly, the injured, and many others can experience mobility like never before. In a new video, Panasonic unveils its latest achievements in the robotics field, applying advanced control and sensor technologies to create a motor-equipped robot that will assist with human body mechanics.

Panasonic has developed a pair of suits — one meant primarily for industrial purposes, and another to help the disabled. The power assist suits will help users perform manual labor and potentially dangerous tasks in a range of worksites, and Hiromichi Fujimoto, president of Activelink Co. (one of Panasonic’s in-house venture companies) noted, “We are proposing robotics to help at these worksites, because there will always be a certain level of work that must be done by people, and these power assist suits can help reduce the physical strain during such work.”

To help with lifting and carrying heavy loads, Panasonic has introduced the AWN-03, an assist suit designed specifically to provide lower back support. By sensing the wearer’s motion when lifting or holding heavy objects, the suit sends a signal to its motors to jump into action. By raising the user’s upper body while simultaneously pushing on their thighs, the suit promises to reduce stress on the lower back by 15 kg.


There are also two additional suits that could be used in industrial settings — the PLN-01 (the “Ninja”) is meant to help the user’s motion while walking and running, whereas the Power Loader is heralded as a powerful suit perfect for use during disaster relief, construction, and public works.

On the other end of the spectrum, Panasonic has unveiled suits meant for the elderly. “As Japan has becomes an aging society, Panasonic is aspiring to make its contribution by supporting the elderly and their families lead a comfortable life full of smiling faces and laughter” explained Hitoshi Sasaki, assistant director of Sincere Kourien, an elderly care facility run by Panasonic Age-Free. “There are many instances that can be straining to both caregivers and care recipients. Just moving from the bed to a wheelchair can be a very energy consuming for both parties.”

For more: http://bit.ly/1UGTjAW

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Filed under Claims, Employee Practices, Health, Hotel Employees, Hotel Industry, Injuries, Management And Ownership, Risk Management, Technology, Workers' Compensation

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

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.

For more: http://bit.ly/1XAJN02

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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.

For more: http://bit.ly/1VcP6UN

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

Insurance Helps Protect Against Data Breach Fallout


Joshua Gold of Anderson Kill speaks about the different types of insurance coverage to protect against data breaches at the Hospitality Law Conference. (Photo: Bryan Wroten)

The past year was a big year for data breaches in the hotel industry, and industry experts say there’s no sign of it stopping any time soon. That means hoteliers not only need to work on prevention, but they also need protection in case an attack does occur.

Panelists in the session “Nailing down responsive cyber coverage that responds to hospitality industry risks” at February’s Hospitality Law Conference told attendees that everything about the current digital age that makes it great, such as connectability and massive data storage, also makes it a risk.

Attempting to list all of the data breaches in the past 12 months would overwhelm the presentation screen, said Joshua Gold, a cyber-insurance attorney at Anderson Kill, and the problem continues to grow.

“It’s getting worse, not better,” he said.

Insuring for different scenarios
Darin McMullen, an attorney at Anderson Kill, said there are four overlapping causes of data breaches at a company:

  • Accidental internal, a common cause of breaches, occurs when an employee loses a device with company business data on it, and it might fall into someone else’s benign or malicious possession.
  • Accidental external breaches occur through third-party vendors or subcontractors who have access to a company’s system or network. While they’re not trying to compromise their client’s security, they may cause harm through their own negligence.
  • Intentional internal breaches happen when a disgruntled employee creates the breach. This can be a common problem in hospitality where turnover can be high. Employees don’t necessarily have to be high-level to access sensitive data.
  • Intentional external breaches are the more traditional hacking events caused by criminal organizations or hacker activists, or hacktivists.

“Some you have control over; some you have virtually no control over,” McMullen said, who added that hoteliers should review their insurance options to protect against different risk exposures.

Gold said he’s working on an insurance claim for a client who had a former employee introduce malicious code into the company’s system. The code fried every controller, he said, causing physical damage to real pieces of hardware. For a networking company, this was a huge loss.

“The insurance company is saying electronic commands can’t cause real property damage,” he said. “It is covered under the literal language, but they don’t want to set that precedent. We will have to sue them.”

When looking for different cyber-insurance policies, Gold said, it’s important to keep in mind all the potential scenarios as some have provisions that exclude what hoteliers might need and think would be included, such as the physical damage in his client’s case. He said hoteliers should work with a savvy broker who specializes in cyber-insurance packages. There are so many different primary forms out there, he said, which can change every three to four months based on what clients face.

For more: http://bit.ly/1TZLnue

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Filed under Guest Issues, Hotel Industry, Insurance, Management And Ownership, Risk Management, Technology, Theft

Spending Money Where the Guest Perceives It


When it comes to renovations, savvy owners are investing their money in design aspects that matter most to the guest. Nunzio DeSantis, executive vice president and director of HKS Hospitality Group, shares his perspective on where hotels can get the biggest bang for their buck.

Emphasize guest public spaces.

“The lobby has the opportunity to create an interesting and engaging space. We see every type of guest—business, leisure, group—enjoying and entering this space. Everyone must enter and check-in and everyone must exit and check out through this space. If you take a look at the lobby, it can also be an extension of the bar, coffee shop, or restaurant. The quality of seats and materials will bring business travelers down to conduct work and entice group visitors to congregate in this space.”

Lighting is key.

“Look at how each room plays off of the other. How are the indoors and outdoors connected? What is the lighting like? Is it natural or synthetic lighting? The best way to make your guests happy they have chosen your hotel as their home away from home is a great view. Location and views change the entire experience.”

Design a navigable guestroom.

“There are two functionalities we are finding more and more hotels could be benefiting from: Mobility within the room and creating a square room. Most rooms are entered from a corridor. The guest then enters their room by walking into yet another corridor, thus elongating the anticipation of the satisfaction of their room. What I suggest is to create a 22-by-22-square-foot room instead of the typical 15-by-32-square-foot room. You do this by pushing the closet, typically to your right, and the wet room, typically to your left, to the back of the room. You not only create more space within the room, you also have now made the wet room less or a confined closet and more of an enhanced experience with a window. You have also created space for mobility.”

Create a clean bathroom space.

“The lavatory is what is going to set one brand apart from the rest. Customer service is always going to vary from brand to brand and is part of the interaction aspect of hotels, but everyone utilizes the lavatory, and everyone prefers it clean and functional. My suggestion is to get rid of the bathtub altogether and have a shower with a ledge. Really think about the guest—not everyone is the same height, so adjustability of the shower head is very important. Think about the firmness of the water, how it hits you, the temperature controls and what really should be the universal way to turn the shower on and off. And lastly, the drain should be slanted—this way everyone’s filth isn’t circling—and the doors should be an opaque glass. It’s clean, elegant, and private.”

Craft an all-encompassing fitness experience.

“Fifteen to 20 years ago, fitness rooms had no windows and were a small room with a few pieces of equipment. Today, people want fitness with a view, great outdoor patios for a cool down, innovative lighting, larger open spaces to move around, and equipment that is functional.”

Whenever DeSantis travels and stays in a new hotel, his architect side always emerges. As a guest, he constantly looks at what the properties are doing right or wrong, and whether things are working as intended. DeSantis says hotel design is all about making the right mistakes. “You try until it works, and when it does, you watch your guests’ experiences come to life.”

For more: http://bit.ly/1SNBvU2

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How to Ramp Up Employee Cybersecurity Training


In 2015, the hotel industry suffered unprecedented cyberattacks. In one month alone, Hyatt Hotels Corporation, Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide and Hilton Worldwide Holdings all fell prey to savvy cyber thievery.

Hyatt confirmed hackers used malware to collect cardholder names, card numbers, expiration dates and verification codes from at least 250 hotels globally. Just a few days after the company announced its planned merger with Marriott International, Starwood Hotels also stated malware had been used to steal credit and debit card data that was found on point-of-sale cash registers.

Hilton also began investigating credit card breaches at several of its properties, including its Hilton, Embassy Suites, DoubleTree, Hampton Inn and Suites, and Waldorf Astoria Hotels & Resorts brands. Hilton confirmed the breach and, much like Hyatt and Starwood, cited unauthorized malware that targeted payment card information in point-of-sale systems as the cause of the breach. Additional hotels targeted by hackers in 2015 included The Trump Hotel Collection, Mandarin Oriental and White Lodging Services Corporation.

To help prevent breaches, management should take steps to clearly define employee policies and procedures, which include:

Create protocols for access and transfer of sensitive information

Once a hotel has its IT network secure, only certain individuals should have access to the data. Further, user activity should be monitored using insider threat detection solutions that notify management of suspicious activities, both externally and internally. This includes monitoring applications for phones or computers that have access to sensitive data.

Hoteliers should tighten all network security. Simple ways to help accomplish that include:

  • ensure logins expire after short periods of inactivity;
  • require strong passwords that are never written down in public or unsecured locations; and
  • scan devices for malware every time they are plugged in.

Confirm that off-site technology is secure

Data housed off-site should be routinely backed up, and hoteliers should ensure that Web application firewalls are cloud-based solutions that are secure and encrypted. Hoteliers also should use top-notch anti-malware software and update it routinely.

Securing paper files that might include personal information

Employee files are a major target area for data breaches by way of paper files. They are typically easy to access (particularly in smaller hotels) and provide a significant source of data for a low-tech inside job.

Employee files also might include medical information protected by HIPAA. According to the Department of Health and Human Services, hacking has been involved in the HIPAA breaches of nearly 3 million patient records since 2009. Employees across all industries, including hospitality, should be aware that this highly sensitive information needs to be protected.

For more: http://bit.ly/1mHKrMn

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Filed under Crime, Employee Practices, Hotel Employees, Hotel Industry, Management And Ownership, Risk Management, Training

Enhancing Check-in and Loyalty with ID Verification Solutions


There’s no weariness quite like the fatigue and impatience that sets in at the end of a long day of travel. You’ve made it through security gauntlets, cramped seats, noisy kids, and traffic to arrive at your destination. What’s next, a long line of your fellow crabby travelers, or a quick trip straight to your comfy room and minibar? As an hotelier, you know which of these customer experiences translates into greater loyalty, advocacy, and revenue.


When it comes to business and personal travel, customer expectations have always been high; customers increasingly expect more convenience, personalization, and flexibility from hospitality brands. Online booking options, mobile technology, and social media reviews have made the market intensely competitive. Customer loyalty is a key driver for revenue growth and competitive advantage. In fact, a recent Forrester study commissioned by Sabre Hospitality found that a 1-point score increase on their Customer Experience Index provides $6.52 in annual incremental revenue per customer—a significant cumulative impact, especially for larger brands.

The same study found that two-thirds of leisure travelers and more than half of business travelers claim they are not loyal to any hotel brand. The study’s findings point to intelligent applications of technology and data as primary avenues for improving customer experience and loyalty, with an emphasis on integrated enterprise solutions. Feel-good experiences engender loyalty more surely than cost or convenience, and loyalty translates directly to good news for the bottom line. How can we begin to incorporate technology that leaves customers raving about their experience and returning for more the next time they travel?

One of the big pain points for customers—the dreaded check-in process—presents a huge opportunity for hotels that extends well past what happens at the front desk. Solutions for scanning and verifying IDs and passports, including mobile scanning and self-service kiosks, are transforming the check-in process and providing a key link between customers and data-driven, integrated hospitality platforms. With mobile scanning, check-in can begin anywhere (even remotely) and be completed in less time with fewer errors. Advanced scanning solutions quickly and accurately read all data off drivers’ licenses, passports, and other official identity cards, automatically populate data records and store a digital replica of the ID for regulatory and security purposes.

Once a guest’s ID data has been scanned into records, it can then be cross-checked with other databases (DMV, credit bureaus, etc.) to verify the customer’s identity. The data can also be connected with the hotel’s enterprise systems for security, billing, and customer service management, as well as personalization and loyalty programs. The ability to quickly and accurately gather this data at the point of entry eases and enriches all the subsequent processes and interactions that rely on such data. These days, customers expect that you have their information and will use it to provide them with a more polished and personal experience. The information scanned at check-in can also be used for seamless sign-up to loyalty programs. Hotels and casinos have found that insights and information gleaned from this data allow them to tailor rewards to guests’ preferences and analyze guest spending patterns in response to various promotions.

A recent Software Advice study of hotel guest preferences found that 60 percent of respondents would be more likely to choose a hotel that allows check-in and keyless entry via smartphone, and 37 percent are more likely to choose a hotel with lobby technology such as self-service kiosks. This follows the general preference of Millennials for automated customer service options. It’s also reassuringly good news for hotels striving to deliver better customer service while controlling staffing costs. Front desk agents can spend more time on personal greetings, solving exceptions, and addressing complaints when they are freed from manual data entry tasks. A serene, smoothly run lobby makes for a more welcoming space than one crammed with guests waiting to check-in.

For more: http://bit.ly/1QcmxGI

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Filed under Crime, Guest Issues, Hotel Industry, Management And Ownership, Risk Management, Theft, Training

How the Zika Virus Is Affecting Travel


The travel industry is beginning to react as vacationers rethink their trips amid growing concern over the Zika virus, the mosquito-borne disease that experts say is possibly linked to microcephaly in babies. The spread of the virus has led the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention to warn pregnant women and those planning to become pregnant against travel to affected areas, including popular Caribbean tourist destinations like Puerto Rico, the United States Virgin Islands and Barbados, as well as Mexico, Brazil and Panama.

United Airlines said that customers who hold tickets to regions that the C.D.C. says are affected by the virus can postpone their trips or receive full refunds.

American Airlines said that pregnant women with tickets to Panama City, Guatemala City, Tegucigalpa and San Pedro Sula in Honduras, and San Salvador in El Salvador will receive a refund if they provide a doctor’s note stating that they are unable to travel because of their pregnancy.

JetBlue will allow customers who have concerns about traveling to Zika-affected areas a refund or rebooking, a spokeswoman said.

Virgin America will let travelers who have tickets to any Mexican destinations — Cancún, Puerto Vallarta and Los Cabos — get a refund or change their flight free of charge, a spokesman said.

Cruise lines are also working with travelers who want to change their plans. A spokeswoman for Princess Cruises said that pregnant women who are on itineraries visiting Zika-affected countries can cancel their cruises and get a credit for future cruises.

A spokesman for Royal Caribbean said that pregnant women who do not feel comfortable sailing to countries affected by the Zika virus can choose an alternative itinerary or get a credit for a future cruise, valid for two years.

Norwegian Cruise Lines is also making accommodations for pregnant women by allowing them to reschedule their cruise for a future date or change their itinerary to nonaffected destinations, a spokeswoman said.

Hotels in the affected regions are largely not offering refunds. While some are taking precautionary measures to prevent the spread of the disease, they have not implemented specific cancellation policies for guests who want to change their plans.

Hilton Worldwide, with 109 properties across its 13 brands in the affected areas, as well as Hyatt hotels and Four Seasons Hotels and Resorts, are considering waivers for cancellations on a case-by-case basis.

Some tour providers, meanwhile, especially in Brazil, where it is peak tourist season, report that they are fielding inquiries from concerned clients who have vacations planned in the country in the coming weeks.

For more: http://nyti.ms/1T0bcse

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