The American hotel industry was in for a shock when sportscaster and television personality Erin Andrews was awarded $55 million by a jury court in 2016 over recording and release of a video showing her naked during a hotel stay. While her stalker was deemed 51% responsible and asked to pay around $28 million, the hotel in which she stayed, Nashville Marriot, was to cough up the remaining 49% – more than $26 million!
The jury’s message was loud and clear. Yes, the prime offender here was the stalker. But the hotel had failed to provide the safety and security that it should have. If such a crime is committed inside a hotel premise, the hotel too becomes partially responsible for it.
This civil lawsuit brought to light the importance of safety and security that a hotel must provide its guests. A guest arrives at a hotel with the trust that not only will he or she be made comfortable, but will also be provided safety during the stay.
A simple Google search gives about 36,10,00,000 pages with tips for travelers, especially women, on how to ensure a hotel room is secure enough. These range from carrying their own portable motion detector alarm to double-checking windows each time they enter or leave the room.
While guests must ensure they are safe, a hotel should take measures to ensure the highest standard of guest safety. The degree of care which a hotel must exercise for the safety, convenience or comfort of its guests may vary with the grade and perceived quality of the accommodations that the hotel offers. But here are a few measures you can take:
Use chain locks, deadbolts and privacy door locks in all guest rooms
Ensure only one-way viewing mirrors are installed in the rooms
Install a centralized surveillance system
Provide 24-hour security patrol on guest room floors
Conduct criminal record checks on new employees
Provide security instruction to staff
Chose a safe that meets the needs of the guests
Hotel staff needs to ensure that the guest feels safe during their entire stay. It is important to train staff to be sympathetic to a guest who raises any safety concerns. Issues must be immediately addressed and settled as per the guest’s satisfaction.
According to Steven Stack, a suicide researcher, hotels are the ‘lethal locations’ for suicides. “Lethal locations include any place, such as a hotel room, where there is no one around—like a loved one—to intervene and stop a suicide,” he states. The staff also needs to be trained in observing people. Any atypical or abnormal behavior or activity of any guest must be noticed and reported.
Running and maintaining a hotel comprises a long inventory of tasks, but ensuring safety and security of the guests tops that list. Making these provisions will not only save you from a lawsuit but will also send back a happy customer with a positive word of mouth.
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