Are you, as the hotelier, the insurer of the guest or employee safety? The short answer is NO.
However – you must exercise “Reasonable Care.” That is, the degree of care that a reasonably prudent person would use in a similar situation. You must also implement and exercise a “Standard of Care,” that is, the industry-recognized, reasonably accepted level of care used in fulfilling a Duty of Care.
Anyone can be assaulted, or worse, in their hotel room. Women (and men) should keep personal safety topmost in their minds. It is important to remember that you should not let anyone in your guest room(s) while cleaning, inspecting or repairing an item either by forgetting to lock up properly, or by actually opening the door to strangers.
Here’s an example from a recent news story: “A 24-year-old housekeeper at a motel in Gaithersburg, Maryland was raped by a masked man who slipped into a room she was cleaning, police said. Officers were called to the hotel shortly after noon. The victim told them that she was inside the room, with her cleaning cart just outside the opened door, when she heard the door slam. The man who attacked her was not armed, according to police.”
Instruct your employees that upon entering the guest room, they should use the swinging metal security lock (door latch) when they are in there. You’d be surprised how few people use this important security feature.
They should also make sure the door is shut and locked. Don’t prop the door open, not for a second. It doesn’t take long for an observant thief or would-be attacker to grab a person. They should bring the housekeeping cart into the room with them – DO NOT leave it in the hallway.
In properties where guest rooms are serviced (cleaned) with doors open, room attendants and other employees are instructed never to allow a guest into a room without a valid keycard. In some cases, the employee is instructed to ask the guest to swipe the card in the lock of the open door. But how many room attendants know to check, can actually can see if the light on the lock flashes correctly, or requires the guest to turn the knob to validate?
When room doors are left open, it creates liability issues for the property and owners that many times cannot, without considerable expense and detriment to your reputation, overcome.
Historically, and under the law, Plaintiffs have alleged that innkeepers and landlords have shown either a total disregard of the duty to protect tenants and guests, or that they have been negligent in performing their duty to provide reasonable security under the circumstances. This includes leaving a guest door unsecured after entering the room to clean.
Preventing potentially dangerous non-guests from having access to all parts of the hotel is part of providing reasonable care for guests and employees. Security is a little like air, it’s only important when you do not have enough.
What are your key policies? Who do you make duplicate keys for? Are the front office staff verifying the identity of the person asking for a key?
Stark Service Solutions recommends the following Front Desk safety practices:
- No key without an ID.
- Never announce room numbers aloud.
- A caller must identify guest name to be transferred to that room.
- Never provide a guest’s room number to a caller or another guest.
- Alternative solution is to take a message and provide it to the guest for a call back.
There are a number of precautions you can take to ensure safety in these instances. A great, cost-effective precaution (usually only $10 per piece) is the use of door wedges. The housekeeper should close the door behind them and put the wedge in place from the inside.
You should regularly review your policies and procedures. There is a phrase in the security industry that “locks are for honest people.” This may serve as a reminder that locks are only as effective as the keys, security and access control policies and protocols in place and used to access them.
It is always worthwhile to dig out your hotel security policies and procedures and reacquaint your team with the property protocols.
While you’re at it, why not consider updating those policies? After all — when was the last time this was done? Ask yourself, are these policies still relevant today? Do they focus on employee safety and are they property specific? And, do they make sense?
Safety and security issues are a high concern in our industry every day. Significant benefits are available to you by having Stark Service Solutions as your “on demand” Safety & Loss Prevention Specialist, with a proven track record of successfully managing and protecting multi-million dollar assets, while effectively reducing costs and expenses. For more information, visit http://starkservicesolutions.com/safety-loss-prevention/ or contact us for a complimentary needs assessment.