SECURITY: Changes to 'Do Not Disturb' signage policy
Disney World hotels are aiming to ensure the safety of their guests by getting rid of their 'Do Not Disturb' signs. Hilton is joining other hotels in rethinking the ubiquitous 'Do Not Disturb' sign. The company is now suggesting that a team member alert a security or duty manager if a Do Not Disturb sign or light has been in place on a guestroom door for more than 24 consecutive hours. In the past, the company might have allowed multiple days to pass before an employee entered a room.
The revision to the policy comes after the Las Vegas mass shooting in which a gunman used a room at the Mandalay Bay Resort to fire on a crowd of concertgoers on the ground, killing more than 50 and injuring more than 500. But Hilton spokesman Nigel Glennie declined to link the change to that or any other specific event. Other hotel companies have also changed the way they handle Do Not Disturb signs since the mass shooting in October. Four Walt Disney World hotels in Orlandothe Polynesian Village Resort, the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa, the Contemporary Resort and the adjoining Bay Lake Towerhave replaced the Do Not Disturb signs with 'Room Occupied' signs. Housekeeping and other staff will still be allowed to enter the room even if the sign is on the door, but must knock and identify themselves first. Disney is notifying guests of the new policy when they arrive so as not to surprise them.
Wynn Resorts now has employees investigate if a Do Not Disturb sign is in place for at least 12 consecutive hours. The American Hotel and Lodging Association, which represents the industry, says that most hotels have Do Not Disturb policies in place ranging from 24- to 72-hour time frames in which hotel staff can go into a room. Hotels own the rooms and have the right to enter for reasons of security, safety of guests, maintenance or sanitation, spokeswoman Rosanna Maietta says.
Broken windows were seen on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino after a lone gunman opened fire on the Route 91 Harvest country music festival on October 2, 2017, in Las Vegas. Stephen Barth, an attorney and hospitality professor at the University of Houston, says that many hotels had already been considering when to enter hotel guestrooms because of problems with prostitution and drugs. We have to keep in mind during this dialogue about guest privacy that the expectation and right to privacy is less than it is in their home, private residences or car even, he says. The hotels do have a right to get into the rooms on a regular basis. Courts have upheld that. Barth says he does not think changes to Do Not Disturb policies will have a large impact on the guest experience. Im going to guess that the percentage of customers that leave a Do Not Disturb sign on a door longer than 24 hours is probably less than we think, he says. I dont think the impact on a large majority of customers will be significant. Theyre used to daily service, they appreciate it and they pay for it. And, he says, hotels have the responsibility to take sometimes unpopular measures to ensure everyones safety. They owe a duty of care to all of their customers as well as employees of the hotel, he says.
But Michael McCall, professor of hospitality business at Michigan State University, is not convinced it will do anything to improve security. A lot of consumers would likely consider it an invasion of privacy, he says. After 24 hours, thats an arbitrary time . . . How does this impact the safety of the guest? I dont think thats been made clear. He says hotels should get feedback from guests as they are implementing these new policies. Weve dealt with a lot of intrusions to protect people, he says. If youre going to keep pushing that envelope, I think you have to give a good reason. The airlines are finding that out every day.
Hilton revised its internal policy document in November to provide the new guidance on Do Not Disturb signs. It was revised after consultation with many teams, but very importantly those who are in guest-facing roles on property, Glennie says. The discretion on what to do is left to the property, but the document offers some guidance on things to consider. He points out that the change in policy does not mean that a hotel will have someone enter every room every 24 hours.
There are valid reasons for entering a room, however, including a check for suspicious activity or if theres concern for a guests welfare, he says. Hotels will have to notify guests of the policy. In its seven-page internal policy document, Hilton says that any Unable to Service cards or notes employees leave for guests must contain the following language: We understand and respect your need for privacy. The hotel reserves the right to visually inspect all guest rooms every 24 hours to ensure the well-being of our guests and confirm the condition of the room. If service is refused for this length of time, a member of hotel management will check on the guest room.
Trejos, Nancy, usatoday.com/story/travel/roadwarriorvoices/
policy/997772001/, USA TODAY January 2, 2018
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