No day is the same in the hospitality industry. Whether you’re receiving a large group of international visitors, providing a temporary home for a displaced family, or hosting a large convention, it’s hard to know what to expect and how best to accommodate the needs of your guests.
While most of these situations come and go without incident, what happens when emergencies do arise? You need to make sure your team is as prepared as possible, all while maximizing time and resources to act quickly in any possible scenario. You might be surprised to learn that some of today’s most notable hotel chains use decades-old radio systems. Even more so, smaller hotels – that may continue to grow in size – also have traditional radio communications systems are no longer as effective as they once were. This article from Orion Labs discusses why hotels should consider replacing older communication technologies with push-to-talk and panic bots.
It’s not practical to have to track down a specific staff member -- who may be on a different floor or building -- to fulfill a guest’s request or respond to an emergency. With these older systems, you’re limited to talking to just one associate at a time and often times the connection is unreliable and slow.
Fortunately, as communication technology has evolved, hospitality professionals now have better ways to manage these types of situations, by way of things like push-to-talk, commonly known as PTT. When you implement these types of systems, you include your whole team. Being able to ask a question and have 15, 20, 30, or even 100 sources for an answer saves you from calling each individual person resulting in increased productivity in the workplace.
Additionally, with new legislation requiring hotels to equip their housekeeping staff with emergency buttons, it appears that these technologies will soon become commonplace in the hospitality industry. Laws have already been passed in major U.S. cities like Seattle and Chicago to protect housekeepers from dangers like sexual assault and harassment.
Many companies have emerged to provide voice-powered panic bots to improve security for hotels of any size, and ensure that staff are never left on their own, even when they’re alone in a room.
Some panic bots work in this way: The panic bot constantly listens in on your group and serves as a dispatcher prepared to reach out to the appropriate people when help is needed. When a designated phrase is spoken into an employee’s push-to-talk device, a message is transcribed and sent to the appropriate people by text message or email.
For example, if a housekeeper goes into a room and sees a fire in the trash can, they can push the button on their device and say, "Help. Help. Help. This is Martin. I'm in room 3215, and there's a fire in the trash can. I need assistance and I'm going to start working on it now."
This technology has become so advanced in recent years, that even if the message is spoken in another language, like Spanish or Russian, the panic bot can run it through a single natural language translator and convert the message into English or another desired language.
Because these tools are built to ensure the safety of hotel staff and guests, they need to be reliable -- no matter what. Some of these panic bot platforms run on WiFi or an LTE network, so even if an emergency occurs in an area with poor WiFi coverage, the panic bot will use LTE as a backup, without interrupting communications. Or, alternatively, if cell service is weak, the hotel can implement a thick WiFi network to ensure the entire property is covered.
When compared with traditional radios, these voice-powered panic bots are far more effective for several reasons. First, even if staff members aren’t actively listening in, they’ll still receive a transcribed version of the panic message, or an audio file if the transcription isn’t successful.
Second, there’s no need for a back-and-forth radio conversation to ask questions of the person requesting help. This is especially critical in time-sensitive emergency situations and can even help save lives.
Third, communicating through the panic bot also starts a chain of documentation. By having an audio file and transcription of the call for help, you’ll have a recorded first-hand account of the situation that may be useful for future review.
Fortunately, these technologies are simple to deploy and don’t require any special registration, licensing, or engineering. As long as you have some form of Internet connectivity throughout your property, you can set up intuitive safety workflows quickly and easily