“I was so scared,” Juana Melara, a housekeeper in Southern California, told The New York Times when recounting an incident where a guest pursued her from his room into the hallway with his genitals exposed. “The rooms were empty – there were a lot of checkouts on Sunday. There was not anyone who could hear me.”
Unfortunately, such experiences seem to be on the rise for hotel housekeeping staff.
A survey by United Here, a union representing hospitality employees, found that over half (58%) of Chicago hotel workers reported being sexually harassed by a guest. Housekeepers and other hotel workers are prime targets: often alone in a room, distracted by their duties, removed from other workers or reliable sources of help.
That makes acts of violence a risk as well. “Over the past decade, there has been an increase in these types of incidents [in the hospitality sector],” says Reggie Gibbs, managing underwriter for security risks at Starr Insurance. “These attacks happen, and they happen consistently. That’s why businesses should be concerned about this. A business is likely to be held liable in some form or fashion when violence at their location occurs, regardless of whether the instigator is motivated by a grievance against the business, a grievance against an employee, or even some other reason.”
It’s no wonder that fully 96% of hotel staff indicated in Unite Here’s survey that they would feel safer if equipped with a panic button. Housekeepers simply want some assurance of personal safety while working.
In response to this situation, the American Hotel and Lodging Associated (AHLA) and its biggest hotel members (like Hilton, Hyatt, Marriott, and more) announced last year that they would deploy “employee safety devices” to all staff that directly interact with guests.
But many of these groups are still stymied by finding the right solution.
Some personal safety devices make noise but don’t reveal the user’s location to security staff. Others are too bulky to be kept close at hand. Many are untested. Most work separately from the hotel’s existing technology and communication systems, requiring new infrastructure to be added. Some just add more burden for housekeepers, facilities personnel, and the operations group.
The ideal solution is a pocket-sized device that can transmit data to the hotel’s Property Management System (PMS) and booking systems, so that the press of a button can then alert security personnel, the back office, and/or the front desk all at once. Its communication protocol should also streamline deployment. For example, Bluetooth devices will require appropriate infrastructure to be added to each property. It’s better to make use of mobile communication network, because it requires no extra work or expense to deploy.
The MaidSafe device by ROBIOTIC is built with these principles in mind. MaidSafe is a small barcode scanner that housekeepers use when they enter or exit a room for clean. That allows the front desk to know which rooms are clean or will be clean soon. However, MaidSafe™ was made with safety first in mind, so it incorporates safety features like a panic button. If housekeepers encounter an unsafe situation, they can push the button, alerting security personnel where an incident is occurring in order to respond immediately. MaidSafe means hotel staff are made safe.
For more information about safety devices in hotel setting, please contact ROBIOTIC or give us a call at 770-487-1950. Please also take a look at the flyer for the ROBIOTIC MaidSafe Barcode Scanner here: ROBIOTIC MaidSafe.
Technical wordsmith and guest blogger for Hoffmann + Krippner.