New Amenities, New Risks: How to Protect Your Guests and Your Business

By John Welty Practice Leader, SUITELIFE, Venture Insurance Programs | December 16, 2018

These days, hotels and resorts are doing everything they can to differentiate themselves from the competition. They'll do much more than "leave the light on for you," offering a variety of amenities and experiences from new water-park like swimming pools with slides and lazy rivers to exotic car rentals. They are competing not only on price, comfort, availability, and location, but also on amenities.

In searching for that perfect hotel, the online search parameters can be overwhelming. Are you looking for a secluded hotel away from the hustle and bustle of the big city or are you looking for an inter-city retro hotel? Are you looking for something family friendly or a hotel that provides more of a romantic get-away atmosphere? Do you want a resort with golf amenities or daily excursions? The search possibilities are endless.

Unfortunately, with new amenities and services, come new risk exposures and in many cases, hotel owners and operators may not have considered the risks these new amenities can introduce for their guests, employees and bottom lines. Ignoring these risk exposures, however, can put your guests and employees at risk of injury or even death, and in turn, could cause irreparable damage to the hotel's reputation and its future.

Pools, Fitness Centers and Spas

Most guests think they understand the risks of using a hotel pool or fitness center. These two amenities are very common for hotels, whether high-end or economy.

Take the pool exposure–most guests are aware of rules like no diving, no running, and no glass in the pool area. Hotels post signs when no lifeguard is on duty, post pool depth markers, and state that the pool is to be used by guests only. Similarly, hotels post rules and procedures for their gyms or workout facilities with which many guests are familiar. Hotel owners and operators post policies and procedures, age restrictions and 'use at your own risk' signs. These are amenities that are familiar to most, if not all guests, and as a result, can pose less catastrophic exposure to the hotelier.

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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.