Hotel Safety Lies in A Well Trained Staff

By David Shephard Chief Executive Officer, Readiness Resource Group | December 25, 2011

In a world of extremes the hotel executive isn't immune regardless of the city or state they are located. As nightly news broadcasts provide the details of the latest flood or hurricane, terrorist threat, cyber attack or deadly food alert, the hotel executive must anticipate and plan for the unthinkable. Why, because it may unfortunately become a reality at the property or because the guests that are now checking into your hotel have just barely escaped with their lives, while losing all their worldly possession in their personal disaster.

To set the stage for the hotel executive when facing tragedies, disasters, challenges, threats and emergencies, a 9-11 style commission will be monitoring every action, every call, every step the hotel executive makes during this event. This makeshift commission will document, criticize and critique everything done or not done. In essence the hotel executive is under the microscope prior to, during and after any significant event. The hotel executive may say this commission isn't possible, but it does exist because the commission membership consists of guests, relatives of guests, employees, employee families, stockholders, bondholders, corporate and the community at large who are affected by the hotel executive's decisions.

If an event isn't handled properly in the eyes of this makeshift commission they can use social networking sites to broadcast one isolated incident to thousands of users in a blink of an eye. In reality every aspect of a guest experience may be the subject of an e-mail or social network comment regardless if real or perceived. It is important to realize a hotel executive's actions, comments and perceptions are not just words, but factual conversational points to the victims of a crisis.

The first question that comes to mind, "Is the hotel executive prepared to meet the challenges of today's significant tragedies and what type of specialized training has the hotel executive received?"

Hotel executives observe, manage and are responsible for the hotel decor, staff member's interaction with guests, occupancy, service standards, amenities and much much more, but have all hotel executives received training and participated in table top exercises or know what to do during the emergency? Add to the equation reduced budgets and decreased staffing the hotel executive cannot ignore the need for emergency training regardless of these hurdles.

During a typical Monday morning a small explosion occurs on the seventh floor of the hotel killing the guest inside the room, while also injuring two housekeepers and three guests in nearby rooms. Question and more questions are commonplace in the first few moments of any emergency. Have you received training to meet this challenge? Is this event covered in your Emergency Plan? What are the first 100 steps and actions you will take to ensure the safety of guest's, limit damage to the property and begin the recovery process? To expand upon questions specific to hotel staff training, how many different types of telephone calls will be received by your private branch exchange or PBX during the emergency? There are thirteen different types of calls, such as guest relatives, police department, fire department, emergency services, staff member families, corporate, media outlets, volunteers and volunteer organizations or guests calling who have no idea there is an emergency. Is your PBX staff trained in how to disseminate the telephone calls and determine what type of call? When guest relatives cannot make contact with their loved ones it reflects on the hotel executive and property. Regardless if the hotel executive believes every guest has a cell phone or not, the PBX staff are a source of information and reassurance to the caller that the hotel is doing everything possible to ensure guest safety.

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