It's Not a Good Idea to Put Dolphins in a Hotel

By Sarah Lucas CEO & Founder, Action for Dolphins | October 22, 2017

A decade ago it might have been socially acceptable to swim with dolphins in a hotel pool. But those days are gone. Now posting a holiday pic posing with Flipper is hugely controversial. Just ask reality TV star Kim Kardashian, who found herself in hot water after swimming with dolphins in Mexico. Or Real Housewives’ Bethany Frankel, who copped a wave of social media criticism for visiting Atlantis Paradise Island’s Dolphin Cay in August.

Ever since the 2009 Oscar-winning documentary The Cove exposed the cruel dolphin hunts in Japan and the 2013 documentary Blackfish exposed the mistreatment of orcas to a mass audience, the dolphin captivity industry has been fighting a losing battle. SeaWorld’s attendance rates plummeted in the wake of the second film, and the world’s largest marine theme park company’s profits fell 84%.

Hotels are not immune to the flow on effect of this social change. Those that offer dolphin experiences are increasingly becoming the target of organised demonstrations and animal welfare campaigns. Dolphin Quest in Hawaii, for example, is the frontline of regular protests from local animal welfare groups, who line up in front of the hotel for hours with signs sporting slogans such as “Captivity is cruel” and “Thanks, but no tanks”.

alt text
A 2017 Protest at Kahala Resort, Hawaii. Photo: Phil Waller, Empty the Tanks Hawaii

It’s easy to try and discredit activists and animal welfare groups by labelling them ‘extremists’ (a ‘framing’ tactic the dolphin entertainment industry has been using for years). But their concerns don’t just come from a place of compassion. They are backed up with science and well-respected marine mammal experts.

Studies show captive dolphins regularly exhibit some degree of abnormal or stereotypic behaviour. This can range from self-inflicting trauma by banging their heads on concrete walls to biting the sides of their pools, floating motionless for long periods (called ‘logging’), or ‘pacing’ around and around in circles.

Coming up in March 2018...

Human Resources: Value Creation

Businesses must evolve to stay competitive and this is also true of employment positions within those organizations. In the hotel industry, for example, the role that HR professionals perform continues to broaden and expand. Today, they are generally responsible for five key areas - government compliance; payroll and benefits; employee acquisition and retention; training and development; and organizational structure and culture. In this enlarged capacity, HR professionals are no longer seen as part of an administrative cost center, but rather as a member of the leadership team that creates strategic value within their organization. HR professionals help to define company policies and plans; enact and enforce systems of accountability; and utilize definable metrics to measure and justify outcomes. Of course, there are always new issues for HR professionals to address. Though seemingly safe for the moment, will the Affordable Care Act ultimately be repealed and replaced and, if so, what will the ramifications be? There are issues pertaining to Millennials in the workforce and women in leadership roles, as well as determining the appropriate use of social media within the organization. There are new onboarding processes and e-learning training platforms to evaluate, in addition to keeping abreast of political issues like the minimum wage hike movement, or the re-evaluation of overtime rules. Finally, there are genuine immigration and deportation issues that affect HR professionals, especially if they are located in Dreamer Cities, or employ a workforce that could be adversely impacted by federal government policies. The March Hotel Business Review will take a look at some of the issues, strategies and techniques that HR professionals are employing to create and sustain value in their organization.