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Why Hotels Are Turning to the Panic Button


With technology in the hospitality industry continuously changing, keeping up with the newest trends and latest innovations can be a challenge -- but one avenue that should never fall behind is employee safety. Protecting employees should be a hotel’s top priority, not only for the inherent value of creating a safe work environment, but also to boost employee retention. The Bureau of Labor Statistics reports an average of six percent staff turnover in the hospitality industry each month. From janitors working on the nightshift and housekeepers working in individual rooms to staff responsible for handling cash, hospitality employees are vulnerable to cases of harassment due to the nature of their isolated workplaces.

The responsibility to keep staff, guests and hotel property safe is daunting. Leveraging technology to streamline communication, automate workflow and improve emergency alerting can help to make safety more manageable.

We’re now in a time where stand-alone security cameras don’t cut it. Human attention span drops below acceptable levels after just 20 minutes, even among trained observers, making it essential to integrate technology with building monitoring staff members. Panic buttons, or mobile duress devices, allow for all employees to have safety in the palm of their hands, adding another layer to safety. Once a pendant is activated, alerts immediately go to the appropriate responders – those on and/or off site – according to preprogrammed alerting protocols. Alerts include data about the unfolding situation, approximate location and instructions for response based on an organization’s predetermined emergency procedures. These easily accessible, multi-layered safety ecosystems, powered by real-time data, empowers employees to feel in control of their own safety and know they are supported in case of an emergency.

From an administrative standpoint, detailed alerts automatically go to the right people on the right devices -- from smartphones to computer desktops and digital signage. The critical information reaches responders or other specified contact groups via multiple devices to provide instruction and take action quickly. More comprehensive programs even allow for video footage maps to be associated with a triggering event (i.e. a doorway being breached during off-hours), so users can view an unfolding situation and provide detailed instruction for the response process in real-time. The added video and mapping capabilities enable employees to make an educated decision regarding their next steps and play an active role in their own safety.

Turnover is one of the hospitality industry’s largest costs, and by providing employees with a safe work environment, employers are confirming that they are integral to sustaining their organization’s longevity and operation.

Communication is key. Providing staff and guests with a way to communicate on an ongoing basis when needed not only improves business operations, but it strengthens their safety net and overall experience. Placing always-on communication and self-service devices in each guest room promotes safety for staff and guests. While guests can use a self-service device for housekeeping requests, room controls and express checkout, the hotel can utilize the technology as a two-fold resource that streamlines workflow and improves emergency alerting and response. At any given time throughout the day, staff is spread across the hotel property. In the case of an emergency, individuals must be able to communicate as quickly and discreetly. With communication devices in each room, staff can find comfort knowing that no matter their location on the hotel’s campus, they have a way to immediately contact help in any given situation.

Employees should never have to worry about safety at work, but the unfortunate reality is safety is often one of the most prominent unsatisfied needs in the workplace. According to the National Safety Council, an estimated two million workplace violence cases are reported every year in the U.S. While eliminating every risk factor is impossible, technology exists to step up and improve employee safety and boosting overall retention.

Hospitality is a people-driven industry, and employees are at the heart and soul of the experience. It’s the responsibility of hoteliers to ensure that their staff is provided with a secure work environment. The tools and resources to protect people are available, and it’s time to get them in the hands that need the technology most.

  • About the Author

    Danielle Myers is the general manager of Status Solutions, a risk management and situational awareness technology company.

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