– by Kalin Estes
Recently, I attended the Mag Mile 2018 Security & Safety Community Meeting and walked away with a new perspective of the hotel community we have at present in the City of Chicago. We had the benefit of hearing from representatives of the 18th District Chicago Police Department, the FBI, and DHS – all resonating a single message of safety, awareness, and prevention against future threats. At the meeting, one point was consistently emphasized: individuals who commit violence tend not to stand out until it’s too late. In terms of preventing possible acts of violence, there is a tremendous deal of responsibility that falls into the hands of the hotel employees to report anything that seems out of place.
Personally, I couldn’t agree more with one message weaved throughout the presentation “Even if you aren’t sure — if it makes you feel uneasy, please report it and let law enforcement investigate”. As someone who has been training hospitality staff in using safety buttons at their hotels, this is something I feel is of utmost importance and must be emphasized. Although there are many steps in place to ensure the wellbeing of employees, reporting instances where a worker feels uneasy never exactly seemed to be held to the same importance as instances where a worker is unsafe. When I heard that quoted excerpt at the meeting, I was gratified to hear that a different sense of employee wellbeing was being taken seriously.
Through my work, I very regularly hear things like, “I didn’t know what to do, who to call, what to say” from hospitality staff who have experienced an incident that should have been reported. Unfortunately, these incidents frequently go unreported due to a bystander effect that arises in these kinds of stressful situations. I believe that one thing the use of safety buttons has achieved is breaching this barrier of uncertainty, and in its place, empowered hotel employees. A tool was needed that makes it easier for staff to speak up in these situations, and I take pride in providing that tool to those who need it.
As I listened to each presenter, I thought about the last several months of my time at TraknProtect. It’s been a satisfying experience to be deeply involved in the #metoo movement and providing security to hotel staff, but as we move forward I believe we have to start thinking how TraknProtect can further contribute to empowering others and providing security. We started with an initiative to provide a platform solely for GRA staff in hospitality, but as we grow, and after attending this event, I can see the expansion of the use of TraknProtect Safety Buttons to be available for all individuals in hotels. As we discussed during the meeting, even the most secure areas have “soft spots” where there are weaknesses in security. For example, even in a place as tightly guarded as an airport, there are spaces, such as baggage claim where security breaches can regularly occur. We agreed that in our industry, our weak spot in security often ends up being any hotel lobby or retail space.
Awareness is key in maintaining a safe environment in these areas, but moving beyond that is where I believe TraknProtect comes in. We help provide a stronger degree of communication and connectedness. What do you do when you see something? Who do you call? How do you know who to call? Awareness is only a single link in an entire chain of events that needs to be followed to effectively prevent incidents and protect the people. These are things we currently provide to housekeepers who may be alone on guest floors. With a button on their person, they are always one click away from their staff. Having this available to front desk attendants creates a completely new environment for the hotel lobby, and is something I hope will develop as we continue to grow as a company and partner in Chicago and nationally.
Outside of managing client success and satisfaction, Kalin spends his time creating music and expanding his palate through exploring Chicago’s diverse culinary scene.