Hospitality Industry Liability Update: “If a Hotel Loses Your Bags Are They Responsible?”

“…Hotels are liable for employees who may commit a criminal act against a guest, but are not generally liable when that act is committed by another guest or guests. hotel_theft_istock This falls under the law that states that the hotel can’t be responsible for acts that are considered outside of the property’s control.  The exception would be if a hotel was aware of a potential problem, or previous issues, but didn’t take steps to insure guest safety…”

Have you ever arrived at your hotel only to find that your room is not yet ready?  Anyone who has traveled has had this experience.  What do most people do next?  They typically check their bags with the bellman and find a place to pass the time.  A call comes a few hours later to tell them that their room is ready, but their bag, the one they checked earlier, can’t be located.

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Hospitality Industry Risk Update: “Taking Steps to Help Prevent Suicides in Hotels”

“…Whether for the purpose of industry excellence or humanitarian interest, properties must sharpen their skills at preventing and dealing with tragic events on site.Suicide In the end, it is not only a hallmark of good business and an assurance for optimum guest experience but also a strategy for preserving the most precious of commodities—life…”

On July 20, 1995, comic book writer George Caragonne checked into the Marriott Marquis in New York City intent on taking his own life. The despondent comic book writer asked a bellman if the Marquis was the highest building in the area. Assured that it was, he rode a glass elevator to the 45th floor and walked onto an atrium balcony. As he hoisted his leg over the railing, a housekeeper frantically called to him, “Get off of there!” He did.

Reports say Caragonne fell 500 feet before hitting a glass elevator shaft and landing at the base. The New York Daily News estimated Caragonne’s body traveled at 100 mph before it made landing. The report gave credit to a bellman who efficiently ushered guests away from the scene and to staffers who quickly used blankets to block the grizzly sight. “They handled this pretty professionally,” one bystander was quoted as saying.

Motels and hotels—from modest rooms to the most luxurious suites—are among the “lethal locations” described by suicide researcher Steven Stack, Ph.D., of Wayne State University, Detroit. “Lethal locations include any place, such as a hotel room, where there is no one around—like a loved one—to intervene and stop a suicide,” he explains. Even a resort full of vacationers, a high-rise bustling with business travelers, or a motel filled with weekend holiday-makers does not discourage a deadly sense of despair hidden behind a single locked door.

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Hospitality Industry Technology Update: “Voyat Launches With $1.8M In Seed Funding For Social CRM Tool Aimed At Hotels”

“…For example, he would be welcomed to a property he had visited 20 times before and asked by the front desk if this was his first visit.Voyat The hotels had no knowledge of who he was or how often he had visited. Habbel believes this is due in large part to the impact of online booking, which has taken the customer relationship away from the hotel and given it to the third-party booking engines. Voyat is an attempt to return control of the customer experience to hotels…”

Voyat, a social CRM tool aimed at the hotel industry, came out of stealth today and announced $1.8M in seed funding from Metamorphic Ventures, Eniac Ventures, BoxGroup and several angel investors, including Brett Crosby, who was co-founder of Google Analytics.

Metamorpic Ventures is led by David Hirsch, who worked out of Google’s New York office for 8 years.

These Google connections should come as little surprise given one of Voyat’s co-founders, Benjamin Habbel, worked for Google from 2010-2012, serving for a time as Marissa Mayer’s chief of staff.

The product aims to bring the hotel industry into the 21st century by giving them more insight into hotel customer behavior both online and on-site. Habbel says the idea for the company was born out of his own frustration as a frequent traveler.

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Hospitality Industry Management Update: “8 Ways to Improve Guest Satisfaction”

“…The days are gone, Craig said, when travelers respond to “fantasy photos and fairy-tale descriptions on a website.Happy travelers If you don’t deliver on your promises, guests will be disappointed and that leads to backlash…it doesn’t matter whether operating a 2-star, 3-star or 5-star star hotel, it’s important to strive to exceed expectations. He said all guests arrive with expectations, so operators have a choice…”

An organized and diligent approach to the management of social media and online reputation is a sure way to improve a hotel’s guest satisfaction scores, speakers said Tuesday during a webinar.

“We have very discerning guests with high expectations, so online reputation management is very important in the luxury hotel segment in which we operate,” said Anna Kavelmann, corporate coordinator of digital strategy for Geneva-based Kempinski Hotels, during a webinar titled “Guest satisfaction: 8 best practices,” hosted by ReviewPro.

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Hospitality Industry Security Update: “Hilton Turns Smartphones Into Room Keys”

“…Ensuring that the technology can be used safely may not be that easy. In September 2012, according to a report published two months later by Forbes, an IT services consultant for Dell returned to her Hyatt room in Houston,hotelkeys Texas, to find her laptop stolen. The hotel concluded that the thief had entered the room by exploiting a vulnerability in a digital lock made by Onity. The vulnerability had been disclosed at the Black Hat security conference in July, 2012, and Onity said it shipped a fix to customers the following month…”

Hilton Worldwide plans to allow guests to check-in and choose their rooms using mobile devices, and even to unlock their hotel rooms.

By the end of the year, Hilton says it will offer digital check-in and room selection at 11 of its brands, across more 4,000 properties. The service will be available to Hilton HHonors members in more than 80 countries, the company said.

“We analyzed data and feedback from more than 40 million HHonors members, as well as guest surveys, social media posts, and review sites, and it’s clear that guests want greater choice and control,” said Geraldine Calpin, SVP and global head of digital at Hilton Worldwide, in a statement.

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Hospitality Industry Technology Update: “Innovator: Marriott Official Says Technology Will Play a Growing Role in Your Hotel Stay”

“…What we clearly know is not every guest wants to walk into a hotel and not talk to anybody. At a premium brand like JW or Marriott, they want both. If I’m on a vacation and I’m at a resort,Cahill_606 I’m probably going to spend a lot of time talking to a person. If I’m on a business trip and I’m checking in at 11 at night and getting up at 5 in the morning, I may want to bypass people. We’re looking at every aspect of our business model and trying to understand how does technology enhance it from a customer standpoint and a business standpoint…”

From check-in to check-out and every service in between, Marriott International is evaluating ways that technology can improve its hotel business. In an industry where customer service is paramount, that means a strategy that blends high tech with high touch, says Paul Cahill , senior vice president of brand management for Marriott Hotels.

Cahill oversees the company’s flagship hotel chain and the one where it pilots new technologies before rolling them out to other properties. To date, those technologies include a broad range of mobile services to ease guests’ stay inside the hotel, as well as experimentation with text messaging, social networking and location-based services.

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Hospitality Industry Security Update: “How Best to Battle Against Cybercriminals”

“…As part of the plan, properties should be aware of laws pertaining to data breach disclosure,CyberCriminal-620x330 educate staff on protocols, contact law enforcement to see who would have jurisdiction in the case of a breach, and put outside data monitoring and incident response teams on retainer…”

Hotels, the bad guys have their beady eyes on you.

“The more credit cards you have, the more interesting you are to someone,” says Suzanne Widup, senior analyst with Verizon’s RISK team. “You have data that they want.”

The hotel industry has a big target on its back, agrees Chris Pogue, director at Trustwave, an information security technology and services company, specifically because property management systems, food and beverage, and retail all reside under one roof and a central integration server consolidates all this customer data.

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