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U.S. Hotels to Arm Staff with Panic Buttons and Safety Training

The American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) and the major hotel brands in membership announced the 5-Star Promise, a pledge to provide hotel employees across the U.S. with employee safety devices (ESDs) and commit to enhanced policies, trainings and resources that together are aimed at enhancing hotel safety, including preventing and responding to sexual harassment and assault.

The CEOs of Hilton, Hyatt, IHG, Marriott and Wyndham joined AHLA president and CEO Katherine Lugar and Chairman of the Board Mark Carrier, president of B.F. Saul Company Hospitality Group, for the announcement.

Deployment of ESDs is already underway. Hotel companies in several markets, including New York, Washington D.C., Chicago and Seattle, already provide ESDs to employees, and they are piloting devices in many other markets. Today’s announcement broadens this commitment to hotels across the country, with the goal of broad implementation by 2020.

“We’re proud of the hotel industry’s efforts and are encouraged to see our industry come together in an unprecedented way to make our employees feel safer at work. Hotels have been investing in employee and guest safety for decades, working with experts to continuously update protocols and procedures that keep both employees and guests safe,” said Katherine Lugar, president and CEO of AHLA. “Safety is a never-ending challenge, and the hotel industry is highly committed to be part of the solution. Protecting our employees—as well the millions of guests who stay in American hotel rooms each day—is critically important to our industry. Unfortunately, no industry is immune to dealing with sexual harassment, but we will continue to work, day in and day out, so America’s hotels are secure places for all those who work in and visit them.”

Participating brands or properties will determine the best security devices based on the property’s layout and features, with a range of options including devices with loud noise-emitting features or emergency GPS tracking at the push of a handheld button. AHLA has convened a sourcing task force to assist companies in identifying the appropriate technology for their respective properties.

This approach reflects the segmented and diverse nature of the hotel industry, ranging from large urban hotels to small rural roadside inns to mixed-use properties that combine hotels, apartments, condos, retail, and restaurants. In addition, there are considerable structural differences in building design and layout, construction materials, and Wi-Fi network capabilities within the industry.

Specifics of the 5-Star Promise includes:

  • Ensure mandatory anti-sexual harassment policies are in place in multiple languages.
  • Provide ongoing training and education for employees on identifying and reporting sexual harassment.
  • Provide U.S. hotel employees with employee safety devices to help them feel safe on the job.
  • Broaden vital partnerships with wide-ranging national organizations that target sexual violence and assault and trafficking and promote workplace safety, including the National Alliance to End Sexual Violence (NAESV), End Child Prostitution and Trafficking (ECPAT-USA), and Polaris.

“As an industry, it’s important that we continue to lead around these important issues affecting our employees, building on our longstanding commitment to the hospitality culture and industry,” said Mark Carrier, Chairman of the AHLA Board and president of B.F. Saul Company Hospitality Group. “We are proud that AHLA members are working together on solutions no one company could address alone, and we hope AHLA’s actions will be a catalyst for other industries to follow suit.”

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