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.