With 2019 fast approaching you may be thinking about booking a trip (or ten) for next year? If you are planning on booking a hotel and are safety conscious like we are, there are a number of questions to ask the potential hotel you will be staying at. Enjoying your stay is important, however, your safety while doing so is paramount. Maybe you enjoy the travel industry so much you’ve decided to open your own hotel or guest house? That’s great, though there will be so much to consider in the early days. How will you make your hotel stand out from the competition? Who is your target audience going to be? Which techniques are you going to utilise to try and make a return on your investment?
Therefore, if you are the customer here are six questions you should consider asking the hotel you plan to stay at. And if you are the hotelier here are six questions you should be prepared to answer.
Is There CCTV?
Guests are often reassured of their safety if they spot CCTV cameras around a hotel. However, just having a surveillance system in place isn’t enough. It is important that the hotel constantly monitor the set-up, even if it means hiring a third-party company to do so. This is to ensure that it is working correctly just in case the footage has to be accessed. Ask to speak to the Hotel or Health and Safety Manager who will be able to give you information about the CCTV system used and its maintenance schedule. If they have one of course. Certain systems also come with a voice command option. This means that if any wrong-doing is spotted, hotel staff can quickly warn those involved to stop their actions. Therefore proving that prevention is better than cure.
Is online data protected?
In the digital age, the physical safety of guests at a hotel is no longer enough. Hotels have become a prime target for cyber attacks. According to a report by PwC, the hospitality industry has the second-highest number of cybersecurity breaches. This includes some of the most of the prominent hotels in the industry. Breaches can be extremely costly for hotels. Especially since the launch of the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR) in the UK earlier this year. It was the most important change in data privacy regulation in 20 years. You as the customer have the right to ask how, where and when your data will be used. Therefore factors to mitigate risk need to be put in place.
To reduce the risk of suffering a cybersecurity breach and heighten the security of all files and information, hotels need to implement factors to mitigate risk. This includes regularly updating their IT systems. Backing up data needs to become a habit. This is to eliminate the risk of losing it or having it irretrievably damaged. A recommended strategy is to use a cloud service daily. Also, have weekly server backups, and follow these up with quarterly server backups and then yearly backups.
If systems and files are password protected, they need to be changed regularly and not shared to avoid any breaches.
Is the electric supply checked regularly?
When you’re operating a hotel or guest house, it’s crucial to carry out a regular Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR). This is because, since your business is constantly running, your systems can be subject to wear, tear, corrosion and overloading. Such a report, which must be carried out by a qualified electrician, will ensure that the electrical appliances in each room are fit for purpose. Therefore, if you are planning on staying at a hotel, you can ask if their Electrical Installation Condition Report (EICR) is up to date.
It is recommended that all electrical installations are inspected and tested every 3 to 5 years. This should then limit the risk of electrical shocks, fires and accidents, and therefore reduce accidents in the workplace for staff (and injury to guests). This is something that has been a legal requirement since the introduction of the Electricity at Work Regulations 1989.
Is the gas supply check regularly?
It is also important that gas mains and appliances are checked regularly too. The Gas Safety Regulations 1998 states that annual gas safety checks for any appliances that are serving guest accommodation, even if it’s sited away from the guests’ rooms should be checked.
Staff members should be trained about how to use gas appliances correctly throughout the hotel. This includes visual checks as well, so they can spot obvious faults. This could include any damaged pipework or connections. While any new installations must be carried out by someone who is Gas Safe-registered, anyone can change an LPG gas cylinder or hose once they are competent to do so. Again, by doing this it will mitigate risk and potential injury to staff members and guests and as a potential guest, you can ask if this is done on a regular basis.
Installing carbon monoxide and dioxide alarms is another thing that should be on any to-do list when opening a hotel or guest house. These alarms can signify any fault and help avoid any catastrophes. They give an audible alarm when levels are dangerous and should be able to automatically shut off the gas system.
Is there a clear emergency response plan?
As an emergency planning professional this is something I recommend everyone has in place, even in their own home but even more so in a hotel. Everyone who works at the hotel needs to know how to act in the event they are caught up in an emergency. Regular meetings with the emergency services and local authority should be scheduled so there is a good communication plan in place and can be updated as and when required. In doing so, the hotel can prepare its staff so that everyone is calm and knowledgeable in a worst-case scenario. You can ask the hotel for a copy of the redacted plan or at least ensure that they have a plan in place.
Aneil Handa is the director of the hotel group Cairn. She stated: “We make sure all our staff have sufficient training to know how to act in an emergency. Communication is key as it’s clear we must be calm and composed in critical moments as this can help us make sure both our guests and staff members are as safe as possible and can help avoid possible catastrophes.”
Do The staff wear a uniform?
A corporate uniform is something that should be worn by all staff members at a hotel. Not only does it help the business look professional and smart, but it also gives guests a clear view of who they can approach about a query, and who indeed is allowed in certain areas of the hotel. In guest areas, knowing who members of staff are is essential. This is because it shows that your company have guests’ safety at the forefront due to staff always patrolling the areas. When staying at a hotel you could familiarise yourself with the uniform worn by members of staff or ask what role different uniforms represent so you know who to ask if you have a problem or question.
- Collaborative Post
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