What I want to hear about at industry events in 2018
What I want to hear about at industry events in 2018
21 DECEMBER 2017 8:47 AM

It’s been a big news year for the hotel industry, but there’s one issue we’re not talking about yet that I hope hits the main stages in 2018.

It’s been a big year for hotel news and the hotel industry. Honestly, every year is big. I can’t think of a time over the last 11 years that I’ve covered this industry when December has rolled around and I’ve yawned and said, “well guys, it wasn’t a very big news year this year, so let’s just run some crossword puzzles in our last issue of the year.”

Beginning next week, we’ll be showcasing some of the biggest stories and trends we saw unfold this year. Then in the first week of January, we’ll be sharing some topic-related outlooks for 2018, so keep an eye out for that.

In the meantime this week, I want to talk a little bit about an issue that’s growing around the world and will no doubt hit the hotel industry (and other industries, too) in a more visible way over the coming year.

You know it as the #MeToo movement, or the silence-breakers revolution.

My friend Jeff Weinstein, editor-in-chief of Hotels magazine, wrote a blog about this earlier this month, and he had a great call to action in it for the hotel industry: “Hoteliers, both independent and corporate, should seize this opportunity to revisit and revise company policies, and put some teeth behind reinforcing them,” he wrote.

I thought of his words earlier this week when I read the story in The New York Times about Harvey Weinstein and The Peninsula Beverly Hills. If you haven’t read it yet, please do. This isn’t a story “just” for women to read, or “just” about Weinstein and the spate of high-profile sexual assault and harassment cases in the entertainment industry. This is, at its heart, a story about the hotel industry, putting everyone involved with it under the spotlight for scrutiny. 

The key phrase in this article is this: “Employees say hotels too often put discretion and deference to powerful customers before the well-being of women who work there, a claim that is catching hold in an industry under mounting pressure to protect workers.”

I don’t care what your political leanings are, or whether you brush aside claims and stories like this as “fake news” or not. Reading that statement should make every hotelier sit up and take notice and take stock. This should hit close to home.

Eyes are on our industry, like they are on every industry as this movement grows beyond the entertainment, sports and media worlds.

Let’s get ahead of it and be role models. Recognize that, yes, this movement is about sexual harassment, but it’s also about equality and power and communication. The common element in many of the stories we hear is that people harassed often felt like they couldn’t speak up for fear of losing a job. Or they did speak up and those assertions weren’t heeded.

So look at your sexual harassment policies and training, at your companies and at your hotels. But also look at your organizational structure, particularly where it pertains to the most vulnerable people. Do your housekeepers have strong managers who are trained to handle these issues? Does your corporate culture support everyone?

Of course it’s the right thing to do to protect each other and ensure equal treatment. I mean, duh. But we need more than a moral compass guiding us: We need to be afraid of the consequences.

My hope is that CEOs talk about this issue on the main stage at ALIS and every other major hotel industry conference in 2018, and we all talk about it in our organizations.

Comment below, email me at sricca@hotelnewsnow.com or find me on Twitter @HNN_Steph.

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