Not everyone has an appetite for adrenaline, but let’s pretend you are about to jump out of a plane, ready to free-fall 10,000 feet into a sprawling field below. Just moments before you tuck and roll your way out of the plane, the skydiver beside you gives you a nudge and a wink before saying, “hopefully, we all make it down in one piece, eh?” a parting sentiment that sends a current of fear and uncertainty coursing through your body. Noticing your body language, the diver you’re paired with gives you a warm smile, “Don’t worry, he’s mostly kidding. It’s just that the parachutes we are using are old, and one malfunctioned last week, but the chances of it happening to us today are slim!”
Before you know it, you’re plunging towards the earth, quite literally not sure which way is up, hoping with every ounce of your being that the sky diving company you selected isn’t relying on old, crappy parachutes to ensure the safety of their staff and customers.
Of course, this seems like a far-fetched scenario because, thankfully, it is. What sky diving company in their right mind would cut any corners when considering the safety of their clientele (especially during emergency scenarios)? High-stake activities demand high-stake protocols, and anyone who has ever jumped out of a plane has surely felt reassured by the tedious, painstaking care these companies take to ensure the safety of everyone involved. After all, anything less would end in a PR nightmare, if not a publicized lawsuit, and, in a worst-case scenario, the loss of a life.
Unfortunately, many industries do, in fact, cut corners when it comes to staff and client safety – one of which, I hate to admit, is the hospitality industry. Due to the physically challenging and often isolated nature of hospitality work, it’s no secret that hotel workers frequently grapple with injury or, in some cases, assault or abuse while on the job. Despite this, the safety of hospitality staff has been notoriously deprioritized, earning our industry an unfavorable reputation that underpins an uncharacteristically high staff turnover rate.
In recent years, however, with the help of the American Hotel and Lodging Association’s 5-Star Promise and mounting legislative pressure to address the lackluster staff safety culture that had long become our industry’s norm, hotels have begun to reconsider and revamp their staff safety infrastructure. Finally, hotels around the world were investing in resources, practices, and platforms that promised to reinforce the safety of their staff (and their guests) while on property. One of the most meaningful changes we saw ushered into practice was the use of new-age panic buttons, which utilize a network of BLE/Wi-Fi gateways to provide the accurate location of those devices (and their users) anywhere on the hotel property in the event of an emergency.
So, you can imagine my surprise when I heard mention of a large, international hotel brand recently urging its hoteliers to use no-name noisemakers, purchasable via Amazon, to give the illusion of staff safety. If we think back to the scenario I described above, the continued use of general, legacy noisemakers in the place of location-specific, new-age technology is the equivalent of relying on old, faulty parachutes. It’s not only reckless and lazy – it’s downright dangerous.
Hotels Can No Longer Afford to Cut Corners on Staff Safety
Traditional noisemakers are handheld devices that emit a loud noise/signal when triggered, offering no location accuracy, tracking, or reporting features. Effectively, these devices are not much more than a whistle which, in the case of an incident occurring somewhere within a large, multi-level hotel, will not help to quickly locate a staff member in distress. Moreover, using these devices can worsen scenarios where staff members wish to discreetly call for help without alerting their attacker, or may attract the attention of guests who may be ill-equipped to provide support. For any hotel of any size to continue using this technology when so many other, credible, cutting-edge platforms now exist on the market is, simply stated, grossly irresponsible.
Now, more than ever, the decisions hotel brands make regarding staff safety speak volumes about the overarching culture within that hotel. With statistics indicating that the vast majority (53%) of all female hotel housekeepers have been victims of sexual harassment at work, hotels cannot afford to be on the wrong side of this issue. Housekeepers, maintenance workers, and front desk staff are, in many ways, the lifeblood of any hotel. Any hospitality brand’s utmost priority is to protect its staff and proactively invest in their safety and well-being.
In the past, hotel brands could have cited the excuse that adequate safety technology didn’t exist. Still, today, there exist platform vendors whose sole purpose is the development of technology to reinforce hospitality staff safety. Modern hotel staff safety platforms like TraknProtect are intuitive with functionality that extends beyond staff safety. They are also affordable and easy to integrate into a hotel’s technological ecosystem. So, hoteliers, let me ask you – if the cost of undermining our industry’s newly evolved staff safety practices is a damaged reputation, high staff turnover, poor morale, and risk of harm to your staff and/or guests, is that really a price you are willing to pay?
It shouldn’t be.