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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Guest Service: A Culture of YES

In a recent global consumers report, 97% of the participants said that customer service is a major factor in their loyalty to a brand, and 76% said they view customer service as the true test of how much a company values them. And since there is no industry more reliant on customer satisfaction than the hotel industry, managers must be unrelenting in their determination to hire, train and empower the very best people, and to create a culture of exceptional customer service within their organization. Of course, this begins with hiring the right people. There are people who are naturally service-oriented; people who are warm, empathetic, enthusiastic, pleasant, thoughtful and optimistic; people who take pride in their ability to solve problems for the hotel guests they are serving. Then, those same employees must be empowered to solve problems using their own judgment, without having to track down a manager to do it. This is how seamless problem solving and conflict resolution are achieved in guest service. This willingness to empower employees is part of creating a Culture of Yes within an organization.  The goal is to create an environment in which everyone is striving to say “Yes”, rather than figuring out ways to say, “No”. It is essential that this attitude be instilled in all frontline, customer-facing, employees. Finally, in order to ensure that the hotel can generate a consistent level of performance across a wide variety of situations, management must also put in place well-defined systems and standards, and then educate their employees about them. Every employee must be aware of and responsible for every standard that applies in their department. The April issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some leading hotels are doing to cultivate and manage guest satisfaction in their operations.