Lifesaver: The Value of Safety and Emergency Preparedness Training for Hotel Staff

By John Welty Practice Leader, SUITELIFE, Venture Insurance Programs | September 02, 2018

The hotel industry is no stranger to emergency situations. From active shooters and terrorist attacks, to weather events like hurricanes and tornadoes, hotels often play host to a variety of unwelcome events that can endanger guests and employees and wreak havoc on operations, facilities and reputations. Though these events occur without warning, that doesn't necessarily mean hotel owners and their staff have to face these situations unprepared.

Proper training and a good emergency preparedness plan can be literally a lifesaver in navigating a crisis situation. Too often, when there is an emergency, fear takes over and people don't know how to react or forget how to respond appropriately. Having well-trained employees and a plan in place for before, during and after an emergency, and testing that plan frequently can ensure that employees are better prepared when faced with such an event.

Whether its removing potential projectiles from the hotel's pool decks before a hurricane's high winds or performing CPR on a guest immediately after a pool accident, regular appropriate staff training can influence positive outcomes. However, key to that phrase is the word "appropriate." Staff training must be done right and in many cases, the best way to make sure individuals are trained correctly in emergency preparedness is to work with outside vendors with specific areas of expertise when it comes to safety.

Consider the horrific event that happened at the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas last year. Tragically, 57 people were killed and 500 injured by an active shooter, but employees who had emergency training stayed on task and helped bring the situation to an end before gunman Stephen Paddock could do even more damage. In this case, it was an unarmed security guard, Jesus Campos, who was able to think on his feet during the crisis. He traced the sounds of gunfire to Paddock's floor and provided police with key passes to enter doorways, according to the Huffington Post.

Although this is an extreme situation, this story demonstrates the importance of an employee being able to navigate an emergency situation and respond appropriately. Hotels need to have safety preparedness plans in place whether they are designed to address an extreme event like an active shooter or on a smaller scale, a guest accident. Risk management experts and leaders in emergency preparedness like the American Red Cross can help hoteliers get their staffs prepared to handle a variety of emergency situations.

Training for the Unthinkable

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Coming up in December 2018...

Hotel Law: New Administration - New Policies

In a business as large as a hotel and in a field as broad as the law, there are innumerable legal issues which affect every area of a hotel's operation. For a hotel, the primary legal focus includes their restaurant, bar, meeting, convention and spa areas of their business, as well as employee relations. Hotels are also expected to protect their guests from criminal harm and to ensure the confidentiality of their personal identity information. These are a few of the daily legal matters hotels are concerned with, but on a national scale, there are also a number of pressing issues that the industry at large must address. For example, with a new presidential administration, there could be new policies on minimum wage and overtime rules, and a revised standard for determining joint employer status. There could also be legal issues surrounding new immigration policies like the H-2B guest-worker program (used by some hotels and resorts for seasonal staffing), as well as the uncertain legal status of some employees who fall under the DACA program. There are also major legal implications surrounding the online gaming industry. With the growing popularity of internet gambling and daily fantasy sports betting, more traditional resort casinos are also seeking the legal right to offer online gambling. Finally, the legal status of home-sharing companies like Airbnb continues to make news. Local jurisdictions are still trying to determine how to regulate the short-term apartment rental market, and the outcome will have consequences for the hotel industry. The December issue of Hotel Business Review will examine these and other critical issues pertaining to hotel law and how some companies are adapting to them.