Nathan asked are we (the hotel industry) doing enough to ensure the safety of our housekeeping staff.
With the two recent sexual assault cases this year of IMF head Dominique Strauss-Kahn and Egyptian businessman Mahmoud Abdel Salam Omar, brought to the front page, it proves that housekeepers are at risk but these cases are rare.
There are not many cases reported, but in my experience, scenarios where housekeepers walk in on guests in the nude are common. I've seen this too often where a male guest calls for room service or a pillow, and when the Room Attendant arrives the guest answers the door nude. I've never seen anything done about this, we tend to cater to the guest and their rarities, but it may just be a precursor to something more malicious. I don't believe it's normal to answer the door nude or in my underwear, and I shouldn't expect it from our hotel guests. I don't believe any manager should and if it happens it needs to be addressed.
Seriously what are these guys thinking! As for safety goes housekeepers shouldn't be allowed to clean a room with the guest in it. Some guests insist on staying in the room while it's being cleaned, and in this case the attendant must get another attendant to help so they're not alone or a Supervisor to stand guard. Personal Safety is important to me and my team, guests demand many things, but we cannot allow a slip up such as we've seen on TV this year. We cannot negotiate personal safety, there must be follow through on every level.
After the incident at the The Pierre, the hotel made a decision to issue panic buttons to the housekeepers. The story also reported that none of the 10 largest hotel companies have implemented anything like The Pierre, and have very little to say at all. I'm sorry to say my chain wouldn't be doing this either, due to expense "of course". The comments made by the hotel chains interviewed were all similar by discussing what they would do to help prevent a possible future occurrence in their hotels and the statements were retraining and reminding their staffs about their training.
I've seen this; we stand in front the housekeeping team, and ask them about how they should remove themselves from uncomfortable situation. We hope they remember what they were taught from the time they were hired, we discuss it and we move on. We hope that in our 3 minute discussion they've remembered what they need to watch out for themselves, Hell we talk longer about what we're having for lunch, and about the room attendant who came in late.
We have to do more, so I brought in Sergeant Deputy Lori Demaree of the Indianapolis Police department to discuss rape prevention. She is one of the city’s Community Relations Officers, and if you don't know it, they come out for free. The class was informative and helpful; she even brought brochures the ladies could take home with local contact information. I plan on bringing her back every other year to help us remember what it is we need to do to be safe. There is tons of information out there and remember information is free.
I'm always looking for information, ideas, and new ways to train my staff. It is hard to keep them safe, and we can't walk around with them while they clean rooms. The best we can do is fully train them, show them through scenarios, and act out situations they might encounter.
A onetime training class just isn't enough, how many people remember what they read in their employee orientation. That's important information, that's why employees are given a copy so they can have a go-to book. I hate to say it, but it doesn't even get recycled, just stashed in a drawer or lays around their home, until it gets thrown away for being in the way. I really don't like repeating myself, but I do what I must! I'll be the broken record if it helps to keep my housekeepers safe.
The article continued on about Unions demanding change, panic buttons, etc. I agree, but it shouldn't be unions asking for change it should be the managers, the owners, and those in safety roles at the hotel level.
I would love to hear your opinions, ideas, and what you do to protect your team members.