Hotel Guest Injuries: Managing the Seen and Unseen Risks

By Kurt Meister Senior Vice President , Distinguished Programs | April 21, 2019

If I asked you to name the biggest risk exposure your hotel faces, you'd likely answer the threat of a slip-or-fall claim. And by volume, you'd be right. But what if I asked you to name the top uncovered exposure for a United States hotel? The answer would likely surprise you.

The fact is, legionella - that often misunderstood but potentially disastrous bacterium - has been increasingly in the news, and reported incidents have been on the rise. In mid-January, an attorney sued a Texas hotel after he contracted Legionnaires' disease. Days later, four cases of legionella were potentially linked to a Minnesota hotel. And just days after that, a family sued a Southern California hotel after the father died from Legionnaires' disease. Legionella can be fatal. It can affect many people quickly. It can create multimillion-dollar claims. And it may be excluded from your hotel's insurance coverage.

Let's explore how you can keep your guests safe from legionella and other risks for injury, and how you can safeguard your hotel from such situations.

Legionella

To understand the risks of legionella, you must first understand what it is. Legionella is a form of bacteria that can cause a serious type of pneumonia (Legionnaires' disease) or a less-serious condition called Pontiac fever. It does not spread from person to person. Instead, it spreads when people breathe in a mist or vapor containing legionella.

The bacteria grow best in warm waters like those found in hotel showers, hot tubs, cooling towers, pools, hot water tanks, large plumbing systems, decorative fountains and even restaurant misters. In most cases, performing regular preventive maintenance and routine disinfection of all cooling towers and plumbing systems will help you prevent this silent menace. Be sure to contract with a licensed and insured company to perform routine testing of your hotel's pools, HVAC system and potable water. You'll also want to ask that company to carry appropriate liability limits in their contract to protect against any potential legionella outbreak.

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Coming up in June 2019...

Sales & Marketing: Selling Experiences

There are innumerable strategies that Hotel Sales and Marketing Directors employ to find, engage and entice guests to their property, and those strategies are constantly evolving. A breakthrough technology, pioneering platform, or even a simple algorithm update can cause new trends to emerge and upend the best laid plans. Sales and marketing departments must remain agile so they can adapt to the ever changing digital landscape. As an example, the popularity of virtual reality is on the rise, as 360 interactive technologies become more mainstream. Chatbots and artificial intelligence are also poised to become the next big things, as they take guest personalization to a whole new level. But one sales and marketing trend that is currently resulting in major benefits for hotels is experiential marketing - the effort to deliver an experience to potential guests. Mainly this is accomplished through the creative use of video and images, and by utilizing what has become known as User Generated Content. By sharing actual personal content (videos and pictures) from satisfied guests who have experienced the delights of a property, prospective guests can more easily imagine themselves having the same experience. Similarly, Hotel Generated Content is equally important. Hotels are more than beds and effective video presentations can tell a compelling story - a story about what makes the hotel appealing and unique. A video walk-through of rooms is essential, as are video tours in different areas of a hotel. The goal is to highlight what makes the property exceptional, but also to show real people having real fun - an experience that prospective guests can have too. The June Hotel Business Review will report on some of these issues and strategies, and examine how some sales and marketing professionals are integrating them into their operations.