Risky Business: New Amenities Bump Revenue - and Claims

By Fran Sarmiento Executive Vice President, Venture Insurance Programs | July 28, 2013

With strong growth continuing and more revenue at their disposal, U.S. hotels are looking for new ways to attract guests. That often means adding or enhancing amenities, which today means much more than an ice machine and fitness center. From water parks and rooftop nightclubs to the concierge turned tour guide, hotels are looking to differentiate themselves.

As you start dreaming of the next renovation or service, you should also heed a word of caution: Unique amenities hold the potential to differentiate your hotel, but what sets you apart can also increase your risk and your insurance claims.

Does this mean you should stop dreaming? Not at all: you can add amenities that are lucrative, unique and safe, as long as you understand and prepare for their inherent risks with a strong risk management and safety program, as well as adequate insurance.

Waivers and Risk Transfer

Before examining some of the most popular amenities at hotels today, it's important to look at some risk management and insurance tools that apply to almost any amenity or service, whether you are adding a water park or just renting skis.

One important tool is the waiver. When guests sign these documents, they agree the hotel is not responsible for accidents, injuries and other harm to them or their possessions. While no waiver can eliminate a hotel's liability, especially if you are negligent, these documents can help minimize your financial responsibility when a claim is filed.

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Coming up in March 2019...

Human Resources: An Era of Transition

Traditionally, the human resource department administers five key areas within a hotel operation - compliance, compensation and benefits, organizational dynamics, selection and retention, and training and development. However, HR professionals are also presently involved in culture-building activities, as well as implementing new employee on-boarding practices and engagement initiatives. As a result, HR professionals have been elevated to senior leadership status, creating value and profit within their organization. Still, they continue to face some intractable issues, including a shrinking talent pool and the need to recruit top-notch employees who are empowered to provide outstanding customer service. In order to attract top-tier talent, one option is to take advantage of recruitment opportunities offered through colleges and universities, especially if they have a hospitality major. This pool of prospective employees is likely to be better educated and more enthusiastic than walk-in hires. Also, once hired, there could be additional training and development opportunities that stem from an association with a college or university. Continuing education courses, business conferences, seminars and online instruction - all can be a valuable source of employee development opportunities. In addition to meeting recruitment demands in the present, HR professionals must also be forward-thinking, anticipating the skills that will be needed in the future to meet guest expectations. One such skill that is becoming increasingly valued is “resilience”, the ability to “go with the flow” and not become overwhelmed by the disruptive influences  of change and reinvention. In an era of transition—new technologies, expanding markets, consolidation of brands and businesses, and modifications in people's values and lifestyles - the capacity to remain flexible, nimble and resilient is a valuable skill to possess. The March Hotel Business Review will examine some of the strategies that HR professionals are employing to ensure that their hotel operations continue to thrive.