Protecting Your Hotel Property During Awards Season

By John Welty Practice Leader, SUITELIFE, Venture Insurance Programs | February 18, 2018

It's Hollywood awards season, and celebrities are parading down red carpets donning designer dresses, suits and fine jewelry worth thousands to millions of dollars. To attend these sought-after events, many are staying in hotels – with suitcases packed to the gills full of high-value items. Admiring all of this luxury from our humble television screens, those of us in the industry may think of what protections hotels have in place to protect these big-ticket items and whether these protections are being properly utilized.  

The subject begs several questions. Is the hotel safe deposit box regularly and properly used? To what extent does a hotel use a commercial policy to cover guest property, such as cash and other high-value property? Do hotels need to consider special coverage floaters for high wealth guests staying with them, or do the high wealth guests need to be informed about obtaining their own special coverage?  

The subject brings to mind Kim Kardashian's 2016 Paris hotel theft and what kind of coverage and protections a high-profile celebrity likely traveling with items valued in the hundreds of thousands of dollars (if not more) should have in place for a hotel stay.  

Innkeepers Legal Liability 

When a guest checks into a hotel, he or she has entered into a contract with the hotel. Within this contract, the hotel has a number of obligations. The guest has agreed to stay at the hotel through the payment of a room rate, and the hotel has agreed to provide the guest with certain services and obligations and has in turn, taken on some legal liability.

When staying at a hotel, they expect the hotel operators to provide a safe and secure environment on the hotel property. The hotel is the guests home-away-from home and, as such, the hotel has a greater burden of care than most other businesses have toward their customers. When a guest's valuable property, money, or baggage is damaged, lost or stolen, guests turn to the hotel for relief. Minimum limits for this coverage vary according to individual state statutes and code requirements, but limits are typically $500 to $1,500. Broader crime coverage is also available. This particular coverage would likely have been brought into play after the Kardashian incident, assuming her dresses, jewelry and other articles were worth significantly more than the average person's. 

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Eco-Friendly Practices: Corporate Social Responsibility

The hotel industry has undertaken a long-term effort to build more responsible and socially conscious businesses. What began with small efforts to reduce waste - such as paperless checkouts and refillable soap dispensers - has evolved into an international movement toward implementing sustainable development practices. In addition to establishing themselves as good corporate citizens, adopting eco-friendly practices is sound business for hotels. According to a recent report from Deloitte, 95% of business travelers believe the hotel industry should be undertaking “green” initiatives, and Millennials are twice as likely to support brands with strong management of environmental and social issues. Given these conclusions, hotels are continuing to innovate in the areas of environmental sustainability. For example, one leading hotel chain has designed special elevators that collect kinetic energy from the moving lift and in the process, they have reduced their energy consumption by 50%  over conventional elevators. Also, they installed an advanced air conditioning system which employs a magnetic mechanical system that makes them more energy efficient. Other hotels are installing Intelligent Building Systems which monitor and control temperatures in rooms, common areas and swimming pools, as well as ventilation and cold water systems. Some hotels are installing Electric Vehicle charging stations, planting rooftop gardens, implementing stringent recycling programs, and insisting on the use of biodegradable materials. Another trend is the creation of Green Teams within a hotel's operation that are tasked to implement earth-friendly practices and manage budgets for green projects. Some hotels have even gone so far as to curtail or eliminate room service, believing that keeping the kitchen open 24/7 isn't terribly sustainable. The May issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some hotels are doing to integrate sustainable practices into their operations and how they are benefiting from them.