REPORT FROM THE U.S.—Extensive media coverage last year of attacks on hotel housekeepers put pressure on industry leaders to rehash security methods.
While much of the public focus on hotel staff security has died down, hoteliers still are looking for the most effective ways to ensure a secure work environment for their staffs.
The implementation of a closed-door policy for housekeepers while they are cleaning guestrooms is an option hoteliers continue to consider.
Russ Cox, COO of Rim Hospitality, said most hotels in the company’s 77-property portfolio follow brand recommendations in regards to housekeeping policies.
Cox said executives of Rim Hospitality support closed-door housekeeping policies for exterior-corridor hotels, in which anyone can walk right up to the guestroom door.
For interior-corridor hotels, however, the company prefers to have an open-door housekeeping policy with the cart at the door to avoid guests possibly walking back to their rooms and encountering the housekeeper working in the room with the guests’ personal possessions.
Challenges to open- and closed-door policies
Hoteliers can argue for and against closed-door housekeeping policies, said Anthony Roman, founder and CEO of Roman and Associates, a global insurance and corporate investigation, risk management and security consulting firm.
With an open-door policy, one could assert the housekeeper is safer, Roman said. Should a predator attempt to assault a housekeeper, any calls for help would be audible by passers-by. An open-door policy also is a second line of defense because it allows supervisors to keep an eye on housekeepers working in a guestroom.
Anthony Roman, founder and CEO of Roman and Associates
An added benefit to open-door housekeeping policies is that any accusations of stolen items from guestrooms are less likely to fall on the housekeeper, Roman said.
On the other hand, a closed-door policy might be seen as the safer option as the guestroom door would remain locked for the duration of time the housekeeper is inside, preventing anyone who would want to cause harm from entering.
However, if the guest occupying the room is predatory, the housekeeper’s cries for help are less likely to be heard, Roman said. “She can be put in more danger depending on the circumstance,” though Roman said that is not a likely scenario.
Panic buttons and security cameras are alternatives and more costly options hoteliers have considered to ensure the safety of their staffs.
Panic buttons, however, are not a silver bullet, Roman said. They actually can be a detriment if not properly designed.
Developing future strategies
Without studies or analysis, however, it can’t be determined what policy is the most beneficial, Roman said. Crime data and statistical data will help hoteliers develop the best strategies to protect housekeeping staffs.
Roman said the best way to make an assessment on housekeeping policies is not to make snap judgments based on the media attention surrounding events involving housekeeping personnel.
The most effective security measures will come with a combination of best practices, he said.
“It will be a combined layering of technology, policy and procedures, administrative and personnel changes that will best deter future accidents, incident and crime occurrences,” Roman said.
Rim’s Cox said that although it does happen, assaults on housekeepers are not common. Throughout his career, he has never faced the problem at one of his hotels. “It’s not a big issue in terms of frequency,” he said.