Earlier this year, sportscaster Erin Andrews was awarded $55 million in a civil suit filed after she was secretly videotaped in her hotel room by Michael Davis Barrett. Hotel staff told Barrett which room Andrews was staying in and gave him a room next to her, jeopardizing her privacy and safety.
While the jury said Barrett was responsible for 51 percent of that award, the hotel owner and operator, West End Hotel Partners and Windsor Capital Group, were charged with the balance: $27 million. While Andrews settled with the hotel last week—and we may never know the full payout awarded due to its confidential nature—we can assume it was an hefty amount.
Stories like these highlight the importance of proper training for hotel employees. According to the Hotel Success Handbook, a shocking 33 percent of hospitality businesses don’t provide enough training to their staff—which puts themselves at severe financial risk.
The lodging industry has a common law duty to exert a high level of care for the visitors to its facilities. Basic safety guidelines include:
- Create specific written policies and procedures to ensure guest safety. Policies and procedures should be distributed to employees when hired and easily accessible at all times.
- Hotel operators should regularly update policies based on legal developments, such as the Andrews case. Contact legal counsel or the human resources department if there are questions about whether a policy complies with legal or industry standards.
- Be sure to document training in employee files. Documentation should demonstrate that employees received the latest version of a policy and understand it.
- Provide regular communication to keep staff up to date at all times. Daily briefings can provide important information such as VIP guests, special needs, events, or activity around the hotel that employees should be aware of.
For more tips on better protecting your organization, please review our Managing Risk Bulletin on proper employee training.