Preventing and Managing Food and Beverage Risks

By Christopher Bolger Senior Risk Manager, Venture Insurance Programs | March 30, 2014

Despite the revenue and guest comfort they provide, food and beverage amenities can be a major source of headaches for hotel executives. Beyond the workers' compensation impact of slips and falls in the kitchen, food and beverage operations present some of a hotel's most significant risks – from devastating fires and employee theft to the major liability exposure associated with food contamination and serving alcohol.

Hotel executives can limit their exposure by implementing a thorough risk management program with proven safety and training initiatives, as well as ensuring they have adequate insurance coverage for all their food and beverage risks. The result can be a safe and profitable food and beverage operation that provides value and pleasure for guests.

The Perils of Liquor Liability

Liquor sales are an important part of a hotel's business, but carry significant risk. Though alcohol-related deaths have dropped in the U.S. over the past ten years, alcohol kills around 14,000 Americans annually. In 40 states, dram laws hold businesses responsible (to varying degrees) for injury or damage caused by an intoxicated person to whom they have served alcohol. Such cases have resulted in multimillion dollar lawsuits against businesses.

The key to limiting your hotel's exposure in this area is proven employee training programs plus thoughtfully designed protocols for all staff. In fact, many insurers require a hotel with liquor liability risks to implement training programs and some offer discounts to hotels with training in place.

Staff should receive training in selling and serving alcohol, focusing on the skills they need to handle intoxicated people. Two common and respected alcohol service training programs are TIPS (Training for Intervention Procedures) and SMART (Serving Managers Responsibility Training). Have relevant staff undergo this training program as soon as they are hired, along with any other orientation programs you have in place.

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Coming up in June 2019...

Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.