The Holistic Approach To Run Your Hotel Operations

Hotels rely on people. On the employees who maintain them and the guests who stay at them. This industry is one that is contingent on the happiness and satisfaction of those who are a part of it. In a manner of trust, workers and guests depend on executives and leaders to ensure proper treatment, accountability, and safety and vice versa, executives and leaders need their employees to be reliable and cooperative.

But what if I told you that hoteliers were losing $30 billion dollars annually from worker’s compensation insurance fraud? Or that ADA Compliance / OSHA compliance lawsuits are costing hoteliers hundreds of thousands of dollars each?

One can argue as much as they want the fault of one side or the other, but the reality is, it’s a systematic issue that, unless resolved, will continue to harm both sides in a vicious cycle of injuries and lawsuits.

And that’s where we come in as a Hotel Management Software. WrkSpot is a holistic, end-to-end, comprehensive hotel management platform designed to minimize problems and maximize effectiveness.

Our systems have a deep focus on compliance, making sure that the working environment is as safe as possible to prevent unexpected accidents before they occur. With the help of artificial intelligence, I.o.T., blockchain, and advanced analytic support, our software is one-of-a-kind, and the first to be all-inclusive.

WrkSpot utilizes three unique pillars that are meant to help you in the most effective way possible. We refer to these pillars as: WrkShield, WrkEngage and WrkOperate. In other words, hotel compliance, employee involvement, and staff management. WrkSpot has the ability to transform your hotel into a smart hotel that is best suited to aid your staff and your guests.

Today especially, there is nothing more important than safety. The hotel industry is now, more than ever, reeling under the pressure of tremendous challenges – COVID 19, human trafficking, sexual harassment, cybersecurity issues and innumerable lawsuits that deal with worker health and safety.

Wrkspot is here to set a new standard in the hotel industry. We aim to shift the focus from numbers and technology to people. As hotel industry regulations undergo more and more changes to protect staff and guests, it is often difficult to keep up with them. We recognise that it is a huge undertaking for operators to constantly stay current and compliant, which is why WrkSpot’s priority is to make it as easy and fast as possible to do so.

With WrkSpot’s advanced alert engine, WrkShield, we protect you from policy and regulation infringements before they even have a chance to happen. WrkShield covers more than 30 of the most common compliance regulations, including meal break, rest break, and overtime, along with many preventative workflows and best practices, and is constantly being updated to assess and ensure hotels are in-line with the latest compliance laws.

WrkShield also includes easy-to-use digital features, like document management with electronic signatures, AI-enabled smart scan, and a sophisticated, multilingual training platform.

And that is just one part of the WrkSpot system. There is so much more we can offer, and so much more we can do to prevent your hotel from being a part of that $30 billion.

So let us partner together and transform the landscape of the hospitality industry, one prevented accident, one safer employee, one happier guest, one better hotel at a time.

The Importance of OSHA Compliance

Following the passing of the Occupational Safety and Health Act of 1970, Congress created the Occupational Safety and Health Administration, commonly referred to as OSHA. This was done in an effort to ensure safe and healthy working conditions for men and women by setting and enforcing certain quantitative standards and by providing appropriate training, outreach, education and assistance.

OSHA guidelines dictate the general dos and don’ts of industry practices. It is imperative to follow them, as failure to do so will result in rather costly violation reports. The goal of OSHA is to protect and support workers by holding owners and those with power responsible for dangers, hazards, and other potential areas of concern, so that those issues are taken care of before accidents or greater problems arise.

According to the Bureau of Labour Statistics, for every 100 employees, an average of 3.3 people will injure themselves or be injured at work in a given year. Of those cases, about half will require a leave-of-absence, or time-off, from work. While this number may not seem like a lot, it is important to understand the cost of a single injury.

The National Safety Council claims that the average cost to a company for a non-medically consulted injury is around $1,100. Should that injury require medical consultation, the average cost increases to an average of $41,000. And in the rare occurrence of an employee’s passing, costs can be as high as over $1.1 million. Additionally, an OSHA infraction discovered upon inspection or accident investigation can cost up to $13,000 if it is serious, and up to $133,000 for a wilful or repeat violation. Consequences for the injured employee are severe as well, as they will, on average, make 15% less over the next 10 years following their injury.

For hotel executives and directors, ensuring OSHA compliance is not only a social responsibility, but a fiscal one as well. Being informed, staying up-to-date, and adhering to OSHA guidelines is beneficial for everyone. Maintaining safe, proper working environments for employees will also have a significantly positive impact on hotels’ reputation and brand awareness. However, failure to comply can lead to scandals, lawsuits, fines, guest and employee mistrust, and many other negative results for hotels.

Especially now, in the age of social media, where information spreads like wildfire and a single article can make or break a company’s reputation, hotels must take steps necessary to become and remain OSHA compliant. It is without a doubt that now, more than ever, hotels must be ready to adapt and conform to new standards and regulations in order to meet the needs of both employees and guests. And there is no better way to do so than with WrkSpot. An all-in-one, revolutionary compliance-management software that does all of the hard work for you. From tracking and alerting managers to potential OSHA violations to providing easy-to-access means of assistance for employees and guests, WrkSpot is pioneering the future of hospitality and good service, one hotel at a time. Every hero deserves a sidekick, every hotel deserves WrkSpot.

ADA Compliance

Like OSHA, ADA compliance is of the utmost importance for hotels. Keeping up to date on the latest ADA regulations and laws can protect hotels from wasting thousands of dollars on lawsuits and fines. In addition, it serves to help maintain a healthy, reputable, and profitable working environment.

The Bureau of Transportation Statistics found that in 2018, over 25.5 million Americans reported having travel-limiting disabilities. And according to a study done by the Open Doors Association in 2015, travellers with disabilities spend upwards of 17.3 billion dollars over the course of a single year. Furthermore, they claim that the number value is closer to double if one includes guardians or other non-disabled travellers who accompany them.

With such a huge amount of money being invested into this market, and travellers expecting to receive proper treatment that is compliant with ADA guidelines, there is a tremendous opportunity for not only personal profit, but the chance to offer disabled travellers better quality service and support to keep them coming back.

There is a common misconception that ADA compliance is cost-inefficient due to the extra utilities and services that are required to accommodate disabled travellers and the seemingly few people who are able to take advantage of them. However, studies have shown that it is not because there aren’t travellers with disabilities, as proven by the numbers mentioned previously, but rather a result of hotels not addressing and promoting said accommodations properly.

The disability travel market is perhaps the hospitality industry most overlooked and untapped market. Far too few hotels and lodging facilities manage to either maintain proper ADA compliance standards or properly market them. Multiple polls done by the Open Doors Association and the Travel Industry Association of America indicate that disabled travellers are willing to spend far more than usual if they know amenities are able to cater to their needs.

Hotels that are proud to be ADA compliant, that actively promote it as part of their brand and duty to guests, and take measures to maintain the standards set forth will find themselves at a tremendous advantage. Especially now, where guest safety and security is at an all time high, there is no better time to establish oneself as a hotel brand with a reputation of putting people first.

And with WrkSpot’s innovative compliance software, we make it as easy as possible to do so. Consistently updated with information on the latest ADA standards, WrkSpot will be the only tool you need to ensure your hotels are fully compliant and ready to accommodate.

It’s time to transform the landscape of the hospitality industry into one that caters to everyone. The future is now, the future is WrkSpot.

WrkOperate: Hospitality industry buckles up to provide a ‘contact-less’ experience

Services that made minimal human contact with humans existed even in the pre-pandemic era. But the importance and need for these services were understood after experiencing the COVID era. This period was revolutionary and transformative for not just one particular business or industry but also the world. With a large number of people locked in their houses, avoiding coming in contact with the virus, travel is at a complete standstill.

The hotel industry across the world has been crippled, what with being unable to conduct business for more than just a few months. Once this phase fades out, people will step out of their homes, but the skepticism to live elsewhere will be held on to. The fear of infection might impact people’s decisions to stay at a hotel. This new phase of living a normal life needs hospitality, too, to gear themselves up and prepare a world that is based on the motto ‘less contact, more hygiene.’

Although hospitality is a generic term for all hotels, not all hotels have the same touchpoints. A report by McKinsey & Company speaks about the IDEA Framework. It says that before you begin setting up your hotel for the post-COVID world, it is primarily essential to understand the core touchpoints and then find solutions for the same.

Let’s take a look at how hotels can buckle up themselves for this new phase of contactless-servicing.

Implementation of PMS
At this moment of hotel transformation, the prime change that a hotel must incorporate is of accommodating Preventative Maintenance Solutions for themselves. Integrating a PMS such as WrkSpot will reduce a lot of physical touchpoints and ensure that operations are functioning smoothly. Once installed, you can manage housekeeping, front desk, maintenance, and even sales and revenue, all at the click of just a button!

Cleaning and Hygiene protocols
The fear of contracting the virus is the prime driver that will have people scurrying back home. Hotels must bear in mind to adopt new and authorized cleaning and hygiene protocols. This means more than merely changing your laundry practices. Some of these include sanitizing guest luggage at the entry point and using electrostatic spraying technology with hospital-grade disinfectants to sanitize surfaces throughout the hotel. This is a recommended protocol by the Centre for Disease Control and Prevention (CDCP) and World Health Organization (WHO) to treat known pathogens. Apart from these, all make sure that touchpoints such as door handles, bathroom fixtures, remotes and tabletops maintain sanitization and hygiene standards.

Gone are the olden days of housekeeping. Welcome to the new world where housekeeping is taken care of with the help of technology. By using Cloud-based IoT (Internet of Things), AI and Property Management Systems, housekeeping can be coordinated with newly-enhanced cleanliness standards. Hotels can either reduce the housekeeping frequency or not conduct housekeeping duties within the guest rooms for the duration of their stay.
Some hotels are coming up with non-technological ways, such as self-cleaning by the guests. The guests are provided with different bags upon arrival to keep their soiled bedding, soiled towels, and trash. When this needs clearance or disposal, guests can text the hotel keeping these bags outside their rooms to be collected by the staff without even entering the room.

Contactless check-in
Undoubtedly check-ins are the first touchpoint that a guest has with the hotel, marking the beginning of their entire in-hotel experience. You can do away with the whole check-in experience by enabling guests to self-check-in through their mobiles. With the help of a PMS software, guests can also be alerted when their room is ready and grant them access to their rooms through mobile keys. All of this eliminates the need to have a reception area or a lobby area as guests can altogether bypass the front desk and simply enter their rooms.

Training of Staff
Bringing about a complete change within the hotel means that the staff working in them will need comprehensive training and skill development. They need to understand how to operate both the PMS and learn to maintain bare to minimum contact with the guests within the hotel premises. Hospitality as an industry prided on personal and customized servicing. Therefore, following the opposite protocol of maintaining distance from guests unless absolutely necessary, may take a while before it’s ingrained within them. Once put to use, it will provide a worry-free experience for the guests staying at the hotel.

Coronavirus has upended the hospitality industry, and hoteliers worldwide are taking the help of technology to open their doors for business. Going beyond automated technology, the demand for Artificial Intelligence (AI), virtual reality (VR), chatbots, and the Internet of Things (IoT) is high. It is soon going to become a necessity for hotels looking to build a contactless world for their guests.

Adapting to low occupancy in hotels

The coronavirus pandemic has left the hospitality industry in shambles with more than 5,000 hotels closing down in the U.S. alone in March and April. According to the fact sheet by the American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA), this is the biggest drop in occupancy levels that the US hospitality industry has seen in decades. The numbers are devastatingly low and will take over a year or two for the industry to overcome and return to pre-pandemic levels.

After months of lockdown and travel restrictions, slowly and steadily, some parts of the world are opening to travel, both domestically and internationally. Even so, battling COVID-19 on one side, business is anything but usual. Customers are apprehensive about stepping out of their comfortable homes. Therefore, low occupancy is like an unwelcome guest who continues to stay until further notice.

How then should hotels adjust to low occupancy? Let’s take a look at how hotels can adapt themselves to this situation and prepare for future bookings when the business goes back to normal.

Connect with guests
The unfortunate pandemic has bound us to our homes for safety reasons. However, this is also a time where connectivity has seen a rise in numbers like never before. Social media usage has been an all-time high, and it is time that the hospitality industry puts it to good use. Even as there may be few to no guests at your hotel, it is an excellent time to get in touch with your existing clientele and reach out to potential customers. This serves two purposes: one- you can keep them updated with the changes being enforced within the hotel property and two, building a strong brand relationship. For this, you can use email and editorial content that entertains and adds value to the same.

Amp up your marketing efforts
Even as this time looks like it is here to stay, it certainly isn’t. There will come a time when people will want to move out and go on vacation. When that happens, you want them to remember your brand to be their first choice of stay. To reap these future benefits, you must work on your marketing plans in the present. Amp up your marketing efforts focused on brand awareness and attracting new guests into your booking tunnel. Ensure a flexible cancellation policy and sensitive messaging relevant to the situation. Rework on your website and keep them regularly updated, letting the visitors know of your changes and packages available for guests.

Prepare for future travel bookings
According to a survey of North American leisure travels conducted by Fuel Travel, it was found that 59% of travelers still plan to take a vacation in 2020. This study reveals that many customers though having canceled their trips haven’t lost their desire to travel. Hotels must thus work for the opportunity to capture future bookings of these guests by engaging keeping them updated with the changes being accommodated by the hotel for their future stay.

Rethink your business model
Similar to hotels having to change their marketing strategies, brands must rethink their business models. This must be thought of, keeping in mind futuristic scenarios and the possibility of the rise of situations such as our present one. Any crisis is usually a good time to rethink newer ways to approach, and the one as we are in right now is a perfect opportunity for hotels to transform themselves. Sustainable practices and innovative business models are going to shape the hospitality of tomorrow.

Focus on domestic customers
For a long time, it is expected that international travel will be restricted. Even with the lift in restrictions, traveling internationally would be for business purposes more than leisure. It is highly unlikely that domestic tourism could compensate for the decline in international tourism revenue. So hotels must focus on attracting local or domestically traveling customers.

The times of COVID sure feel like a negative and loss-making time, but this could be transformative for your brand if used well. Indeed, the post-COVID era would not be anything like the pre-COVID times. But rethinking strategies that focus more on the future than the present occupancy would bring hotels to cover up for the losses that the hotels face now. We have been given a chance to reinvent ourselves and invest in what really matters. So let’s do well!

Labor Compliance: Technology to the Rescue

labor Compliance

Labor expense is a costly affair for the hospitality industry, accounting for a large chunk of the total operating costs. Hotel owners and managers need to consider all aspects that contribute to or affect the needs of their labor. Changes in labor laws or challenges the employees face should be observed, noted, and resolved at the earliest. Such prompt actions ensure that the employees are happy and satisfied, resulting in a decrease in employee turnover.

Managers face multiple challenges in the hotel, both related to labor and non-labor, on a daily basis. Resolving these issues can divert their attention and take away their time from other essential tasks. Recent advancements in the field of technology have been created to address these labor compliance issues in the best way possible. Technology can, in more ways than one, streamline operations, so that hotel operations run smoothly and efficiently.

Labor Challenges faced by the Hospitality Industry

  • Retention: It is no secret that hospitality faces the highest employee turnover rate. A high turnover rate results in hotels having a lousy reputation affecting their revenue. Therefore, it is crucial to eradicate these issues from its roots. Having a well-organized team can help you manage this issue. They can not only help you reposition your hotel as an excellent place for hospitality careers but also bring in more qualified personnel.
  • Wage and Hours: Employees in the hospitality industry are paid wages based on regional market rates, which can be minimal. Therefore, these employees, at times, make-up for these minimum salaries by earning income via tips. Another problem, related to labor, is the number of hours actually worked by the employees. This must be thoroughly checked by the supervisors as the hours being claimed by the employees could vary.

How can technology be of aid?
The ratio of changes in technology and labor laws is 2:1, where technology is growing at double the pace in comparison to the labor laws. Technology is faster, both in evolution and optimization across all fields. The Labor Department authorities in the past have observed that managers or hotel owners may be hesitant to adopt new technology. Adopting a new form of technology brings with it expenses of installation and maintenance. This is in addition to the time to be spared for training the employees on how to run the application.

Cross-Department Functions
Hospitality is an industry which comprises various departments that need to function with each other to provide the guests a pleasant stay. A need may arise for better alignment between operations, IT, and compliance departments as they tend to work in isolation. Working cross-functionally with each department is necessary as they all have different areas of expertise that are needed to ensure compliance. The operations department knows what they need for a task to be successful. At the same time, compliance can help mitigate the risks, and IT can help implement the technology needed to make everything come together.

Recording Hours – Worked and Paid
With software like WrkSpot, hotel management can capture the number of hours worked by employees and their time-off approvals. It even captures a time that employees spend on work-related tasks outside of their scheduled shifts on an hourly basis, which can actually be of benefit to the employer. Capturing the hours worked (both mandatory and voluntary), for which the employees are adequately compensated, can be quite motivating for them to work further. Such a software also ensures that the employees work for as many hours as they claim.

Clock-In and out timings
Technology does not just create liability when it comes to labor laws; it can also help companies be compliant. Many companies that make use of software like Wrkspot ensure that employees are clocking their work and are taking their full break. Having these systems in place ensures that the staff cannot complain that they weren’t given their full break.

Watch out for misuse of technology
The hotel owners or managers must apply a rule restricting the use of technology for work. The staff should know and understand that they should use employer-provided communication technology only during working hours. They must also be made aware of the consequences of not adhering to this rule.

Labor compliance is a sensitive and risky arena. Technology being logical and consistent brings in transparency in both communication and knowledge. Therefore, accommodating it in the ways previously described ensures clarity. Employees do not feel cheated and instead feel compensated for all their hard work and ultimately their loyalty makes your brand look good.

Preventive Maintenance Essentials for Housekeeping

Preventative Maintenance

Hospitality is a service industry that needs to be in its best form 24×7 to provide its guests with a comfortable stay. A stay that lets the guest depart with satisfaction so that they not only willingly return to the hotel but also recommend the place to their acquaintances. For a memorable stay, everything within the hotel premises must run like a well-oiled machine so that guests do not face issues at any time during their visit.

For a machine to function smoothly, it needs regular oiling or, in the case of hotels, maintenance, so that all pieces of equipment are functioning efficiently. Preventive Maintenance is performing regular checks on equipment to reduce the likelihood of failure or breakdown in between usages. Regular maintenance of housekeeping can ensure avoiding any embarrassing situations for hotel owners. Such breakdowns lead to increased costs of downtime and causes inconvenience to the guests. Performing Preventive Maintenance requires a thorough knowledge of all equipment and facilities of the hotel. Housekeepers and managers are well aware of these, having worked with them daily. Using this knowledge can help them stay on top things and correct issues, both anticipated and unexpected.
To combat this the best way, hotels must make use of the 80/20 thumb rule here. Using this rule, hotels can plan and divide their maintenance requirements as – 80% of attention given to reducing scheduled fixtures and the remaining 20% for future emergencies. This plan is beneficial in improving the quality of the guests’ stay. Also, being proactive towards Preventive Maintenance helps save on costs that can be spared for future unfortunate mishaps.

Key Areas that need Renewed Maintenance
Guest Rooms: The bedroom is probably the most essential part of a hotel for the guest. It is the first thing they will look at after having traveled a long way. Therefore, entering a bedroom that is tidy and pleasantly fragrant can instantly light up their tired faces. Keeping the current situation in mind, guests stepping into the hotel will be stringent about the hygiene protocol being followed. Ensure that you review your property’s cleaning and sanitization processes regularly. This should then be followed by a run through UV lights and other medical-grade cleaning materials to give the guest nothing but the best.

Air-conditioning: Maintaining the air quality, post lockdown, needs to be prioritized as viruses can be transmitted via air. Air conditioning has been seen as the most common complaint that guests have. The complaints range from the inability of the air conditioning to function at the desired level of the guest to the potential bad odor it may be releasing. Therefore, regular maintenance of air conditioning can help prevent these complaints. It can also bring to light any leaks that might release harmful ozone-depleting gases in the atmosphere.

Lighting and Fixtures: A well-lit space can brighten the worst of moods. But if guests were to experience a light fallout amidst their stay, they may only be disappointed. To avoid such a situation, hotels must conduct regular checks to keep their lighting in top conditions.

Heating systems: Maintaining heating systems can be an expensive affair, but they have an immediate impact on a guests’ experience. Ensure to keep a regular maintenance check of the heating systems as leakages in them can encourage the growth of harmful bacteria.

Water supply systems: Hotels now need to make sure that the water being used in the hotel properties are in no way dangerous to the health of the guests. Any leaks in the pipes, even the minute ones, can damage the infrastructure and, in turn, ruin the guests’ experience.

Kitchen: Customers are wary of dining out, but if they have stepped into your hotel for a good experience, ensure to provide them with one. One can do this by paying particular attention to the maintenance of all equipment used in the kitchen and ensuring high standards and compliance as per the Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Points (HACCP). The kitchen staff, too, needs to follow protocols such as wearing gloves, masks and toques at all times to maintain hygiene.

Installing Maintenance Software
Making use of technology as a Preventive Maintenance software provides the managers with extensive control over their hotel’s well being. A software like WrkSpot practically runs the hotel properties with minimal human intervention. Making use of these can smoothen the administrative duties, keep all pieces of equipment in good condition with regular checks when required, and reduce unnecessary costs. Are you impressed with WrkSpot already? Well, there’s more to it. This software automatically schedules regular maintenance without having to worry about them, and it can be managed from anywhere at any time!

To summarise, housekeeping has a direct impact on the customer experience. The housekeeping staff are the ones that look after the needs of the customers closely. They are also the first ones to spot a malfunction and they have direct access to the rooms and its equipment. Regular maintenance of these can ensure that the guests have a smooth and worry-free experience. It also shows the guests that the staff is alert and proactive and cares for their health. In the post-COVID period, it is essential to remember that guests, while stepping out of their safe spots at home, rely on the hotel to not only provide them with a comfortable but also a safe and clean stay.

Implementing Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) in hotel operations

Disabled Person

An article in the New York Law Journal speaks of the Seyfarth Report for 2019, the findings of which state that yet another year created a record for ADA Title III lawsuits. The ADA Title III prohibits disability-based discrimination in places of public accommodation such as restaurants, movie theatres and schools, etc. New York, alone contributed 2,635 of the total reports filed nationwide. With rules and regulations provided by the American Disabilities Act (ADA), the numbers ought to have reduced over the years. The result, however, has been quite the contrary.

Today, as we stand at the peak of technology and make the lives of those being serviced at hotels better, there should be an ease in the way the disabled are treated. More than 50 million Americans have disabilities, out of which nearly 18% of the population are potential customers for the hotel industry.

Despite the act being established, the staff servicing in these properties aren’t well versed about their role with the disabled, the kinds of fears that the disabled have, displaying awkwardness when confronting them, and have preconceptions or misconceptions. A lack of understanding is equivalent to having little to no knowledge. However, is this really how they are supposed to function?

The ADA implementation in hotel operations

The ADA act comprises five sections in the form of Titles ranging from I-V. These Titles individually provide regulations regarding employment, public services, accommodations, telecommunications, and miscellaneous duties for hotels. As the owner or manager of the hotel, making physical site inspections to audit and ensuring that the property is compliant to the state and federal laws are few of the prime responsibilities.

Ignorance of regulations or instances where ADA hasn’t been complied with, brings heavy fines for the hotel involved. This then displays the hotel as inconsiderate and ignorant, which affects the revenue and reputation.

Some crucial regulations to be to incorporated in the operations for the disabled:

  • For newly built properties, hoteliers must provide basic amenities that can aid the disabled throughout their stay in the hotel. These include parking facilities, swimming pool lifts, check-in counters for wheelchair-accessible public entrances, pathways, ramps and/or lifts and restrooms.
  • For old properties, ensuring the stability of fixtures, placement of pieces of equipment, right angles that provide maximum accessibility are a must-check.
  • In recent times, most customers prefer a digital visit before actually visiting the hotel. Therefore, ensure that the content you put out on your website displays accurate ADA features being offered at your hotel. Also, make sure your online reservation systems are regulated and mobile applications are ADA compliant. Avoid sharing information that can be misleading or false since that can lead to a lawsuit. For example, in California, people with disabilities can question the validity of all kinds of barriers being displayed at the hotel without actually stepping into the premise. Such situations can be a perfect reason that plaintiffs and their lawyers might use to raise ADA lawsuits. This creates a perfect storm for “serial plaintiffs” and their lawyers to survive off of the settlements from ADA lawsuits.

Besides these, the ADA has published new lodging facilities, which you can find here.

Methods to implement ADA

Technology has advanced to the extent that it provides facilities to the disabled that takes them from point A to point B. Today there are software applications like Wrkspot that come with built-in features to ensure that the hotels operate keeping ADA in mind. Wrkspot excels at upgrading your properties to be ADA compliant by taking care of signage issues, parking maintenance, being aware of ADA titles, training the management to act responsibly, and conducting ADA violation checks. Such a software, when used for hotel operations, can massively help to avoid lawsuits.

Another way is the one found by Mr. Peter Slatin, co-founder of the Slatin Media Group, which is the provision of education and training to communicate with disabled customers in compliance with the ADA. Their educational program focuses on providing communication skills for serving guests who are visually-challenged, or have hearing or moving disabilities. They aim to provide a positive and complaint-free experience for such people. Hotels are expected to meet codes for safety and physical accessibility. But the real question is, how many are actually following these norms?

As an owner or a manager of a property, it is your responsibility to understand ADA compliances and its impact on the hotel facilities. Once understood, you must ensure that these are implemented and checked regularly. Your current and the future workforce, too, consists of millennials who need to adhere to ADA compliances. Therefore, it is crucial that as part of the management looking after the property you implement the act, so that the employees emulate it further. Hotels want to bring in these improvements but they must first be willing to do so.

Reputation Management starts with Employee Safety

employee safety

Imagine this: you are a housekeeper at a five-star hotel. One day while you are on duty, a guest asks you to enter their room and give them a massage to earn some extra money. That is an incident that happened to an employee at a hotel in Seattle. Such instances are a regular occurrence in the hospitality sector for people working tirelessly in 12-14-hour shifts every day. Some of the staff at hotels face leering and inappropriate groping by guests or are simply cornered in the hallways. All this while they were trying to earn a decent income!

A report by Unite Here states that approximately 58% of hotel workers and 77% of casino workers have been sexually harassed. Nearly half the staff have had guests answer their doors naked or have been flashed at, and nearly 15% of them have been cornered. Following such drastic numbers, in September 2018, American Hotel & Lodging Association (AHLA) announced the 5-Star Promise, a voluntary commitment by its members. It is formed to enhance the existing policies and training given to employees in the industry. By providing safety devices they aim to ensure the safety and security for both the hotel employees and the guests.

The promise is a happy ending for the staff looking for some form of relief through higher authorities. From 17 members in 2018 to today where the numbers have escalated to a good 60-member companies, representing an estimated 20,000 hotel properties have made the pledge. The result? 1.2 million employees will receive protection while on the job. More than 5,000 properties have already deployed safety devices. There is an Electronic Safety Devices (ESD) legislation in New York City, New Jersey, Miami, Illinois, Washington State, Las Vegas, and several other key Californian cities.

Once the panic button or ESD is activated, it sends an alert to the corresponding responder in the form of an SOS. These alerts could inform the respondent about the nature of the situation, location of the incident taking place and instruction protocol for responding to the SOS, depending upon the hotel’s predetermined emergency procedures.

Employee Safety- Need of the Hour
Employees are a part of the workforce whose excellent services bring in revenue and reputation to the hotels. However, when employees feel threatened or insecure at their workplace which has no strict safety policy, their services are adversely affected. When the insecurity is no longer bearable, employees decide to quit their job, much to their dismay.

The hospitality industry, as it is evident across reports, struggles with a high staff turnover rate. Along with previously highlighted factors contributing to this turnover, a large chunk is due to poor working conditions and lack of safety protocol for employees. Apart from bearing physical risks while working within the hotel premises, employees also have to undergo assaults in many cases. This, when received with the pressure from hospitality unions to fulfill demands related to employees, and the negative reviews by the media can ruin the hotel’s reputation in a fortnight.

For those properties, which do not follow the protocols of installing panic buttons and other ESD, the hospitality authorities levy fines according to a tiered structure, starting with a minimal warning being given out to heavy penalties followed by an injunction in severe cases. The hotels which had failed to comply with the guidelines or had not installed ESDs by January 2020 will be heavily fined.

Ways to ensure employee safety
Most preferred hotels aren’t those that only have well-maintained interiors or are given rave reviews owing to the services they provide, but are also the ones with the most satisfied employees and a history of less employee turnover. Installing panic buttons provides a sense of security for those employees who frequently interact with guests or other visitors as the system helps deter violent incidents, reduce injuries and the costs associated with such injuries.

Some other ways to ensure employee safety are:

  • Strict anti-sexual harassment policies in place are made available in the premises of the hotel visible to all.
    Providing training and education to employees on identifying and reporting sexual harassment.
  • Installing property management software such as Wrkspot that comes with panic devices which can also help one track functions within the hotel at the touch of a button. It can also be used to train and monitor situations so that there are fewer unfortunate events taking place on the premises.
  • A physical panic button is a morale boost for employees, so that they feel safe to work and interact with the guests without the fear of anything wrong going unnoticed. Wearable panic devices provided to employees go to show that they are being looked after by their employers resulting in an improvement in the guest service. Such properties receive a better reputation and, thus, a large number of applicants.

A hotel’s reputation can be made or broken based on the way they treat both their employees and guests. Not paying enough attention to the needs of the employees results in a mishap of events which, if displayed by the media, can only bring doom on the reputation of these hotels. Inculcating policies and practices for the welfare of employees can give them a boost at work. Although the installation and maintenance of these panic devices may cost a small fortune, the nightmare of having to face a bad reputation should be enough motivation to do something about it.

A guide to getting your hotel OSHA ready

Osha-ready Hotel

In October 2019, Hard Rock Hotel in New Orleans was issued a fine on account of ‘willful’ and ‘serious’ violations. 11 contractors working on the project were heavily fined for life-threatening violations as the building collapsed due to the negligence of the engineers on site. This is just one of the incidents that has been in the News regarding workplace violation in the hospitality industry in the recent months.

To avoid such scenarios and regulate workplace security across businesses, including the hospitality industry in the US, Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) was put in place. Its regulations are created with the intention of employee safety, categorised under employee management, worksite analysis, hazard prevention and control, and safety and health training.

Previously, OSHA has come across many such incidents which involve severe as well as minor violations. One such example is the inspection that was conducted at the Marriott Wardman Park Hotel in Washington, D.C., resulting in fines of over $76,000 in safety violations. Violations not only result in the payment of fines but also endanger the lives of the staff as they are subjected to harsh chemical substances, electrical and fall hazards, and at times compressed air issues.

As the hospitality industry faces unique challenges, not experienced by other industries, CalOSHA passed a directive effective July 1, 2018 which focused on Hotel Housekeeping and Musculoskeletal Injury Prevention. This standard ensured the prevention of any injuries or illnesses particularly housekeeping musculoskeletal injuries, training employees for this program, and maintaining records among others.

Now that the whole world has entered the New Normal phase, the hospitality industry too must start a fresh chapter. Apart from transforming your properties adhering to the social distancing norms, ensure to also get those ready as per the guidelines issued by OSHA. Today there are software applications in place such as WrkSpot to help you manage these duties.

Guidelines by OSHA to prevent various types of violations

  • General guidelines: OSHA has been put in place for all kinds of businesses including the hotel industry. Some general guidelines that the hospitality industry must adhere to include maintaining passageways for walking and working, storerooms and service rooms- free from debris and any other form of obstructions. They must be clean and dry at all possible times.
  • Reporting and Recordkeeping: Hotels must maintain a system for monitoring job-related injuries and illnesses. It requires that employers use two forms OSHA 300 Log and OSHA 301 Injury Report. Incase of work-related illness or injury, it must be recorded within six days of occurrence in the OSHA 300 Log.
  • De Minimis Violations: A De Minimis Violation does not have a direct impact on health or safety of the employees and is the least form of violation. An example of this violation would be using a ladder with 13 inches instead of the standard 12 inches between the rungs.
  • Serious Violations: A serious violation is when an employer being aware of a situation that is potentially dangerous for causing serious injury or death, finds no solution for the same.
  • Willful violations: This is perhaps the most serious form of violation since it is done intentionally by the employer. This shows disregard for employee health and safety.
  • Repeated Violation: When an employer is cited for a particular violation and is found repeating it, OSHA cites the employer of the property with a repeated violation penalty.
  • Failure to clear prior Violation: At times, even after the employer is handed a violation citation, one may not find a solution to the same. In such cases, OSHA penalizes them further because the citation comes with an expiry date by when the solution should have been implemented.

Each of these violations have a fine attached depending on the gravity of the situation. However, such violations display the management of the hotel in a bad light to its stakeholders and customers resulting in the rise in guest complaints.

Remedies to be OSHA ready
Most businesses are turning towards technology to solve a bundle of their problems. Technology is quick to respond, can be automated and keeping the current scenario in mind, also minimizes physical interaction. OSHA, too, believes that an automated, interactive, software-based training can serve as a valuable tool in the overall training program.

Training software applications come with an advantage of automating their training programs, so that employees can track and report their compliance initiatives. However, training alone may not be sufficient. Making regular checks to ensure the guidelines are being followed to stay clear of the OSHA violations’ radar is also an important step. This reduces the number of safety-related accidents and improves productivity.

Today there are tech-based interconnected ecosystems such as WrkSpot that provide an end-to-end OSHA training workflow. It also allocates time to managers at workplaces to automate tasks for training, inspection, OSHA regular checks, and so on.

As an owner or the manager of a hotel, hotel reputation management is one of your top priorities since it leads to customers and future business generation. It is, therefore, your responsibility to ensure that your business is in compliance with the regulations. OSHA inspectors make unannounced inspections to hotels, so ensuring you are on top of things is a must. Violations can leave a scar on the reputation of the hotel and not just with a fine. With COVID-19 transforming industries as a whole, it’s time to start anew with less violations and more guest services. So, is your hotel OSHA ready?