Last fall, the American Hotel & Lodging Association and the major hotel brands announced the 5-Star Promise, a pledge to provide hotel employees across the U.S. with employee safety devices along with commitment to training and resources to enhancing hotel safety. Parminder takes a personal perspective on why their initiative is more than just good marketing but essential to the future of travel.
The Federal Aviation Administration reauthorized a bill last year, not to investigate airworthiness of aircraft systems or our overcrowded air traffic control system, but to include the creation of a sexual misconduct task force to help prevent an insurgence of incidents involving female passengers and flight attendants. It’s an unfortunate sign of the times, and one that graphically underscores an often-overlooked fact; that the travel experience is different for women – both for passengers and guests, and for those who look after them.
That difference in experience was something that the major hotel brands began to acknowledge several years ago when the surging demographics showed that women were becoming an increasingly influential force in the travel market, and they’ve since done a wonderful job of recognizing their women guests and providing facilities to cater to them. But a woman’s perspective on traveling isn’t driven around provisioning hair dryers or neutral tone guestrooms, it’s not about perfect bathroom lighting (although we’ll certainly take it), it’s about a more fundamental difference between men and women that is particularly expressed in widely different concerns around security. It’s the reason why, for instance, I always surprise check-in staff by requesting a room near the elevator because I’ll take the grinding of the elevator over a walk alone along a long hotel corridor, how I’ll appreciate servers who are discreet when asking my room number, or the welcome of a well-lit, secure lobby after a late arrival.
It’s also why the Five Star Promise is important, not only to the immediate employees it benefits but for the entire hotel experience. Everyone, man or woman, will celebrate (and book) the hotel that has dedicated policies in place for its staff security, and appreciate the increased sense of personal safety because of it.
But there’s another, perhaps more personal reason why the welfare of hotel employees should be important to us as travelers and consumers. I recently had the privilege of hearing Arne Sorenson at The Executives’ Club of Chicago talking about Marriott’s social impact and sustainability platform, Serve 360, which touches firmly on the issue of hotel safety. During the discussion Sorenson highlighted the importance of hotel employees’ vigilance in ensuring guest safety and the advantage their job affords in being able to detect, among other things, sex trafficking in hotels. “We might not see them as we pass in the hallways, but they are the front line for our customer experience, and historically they have watched out for each other, and our guests,” he remarked. It’s a great point, and doesn’t it just make sense that we should be united in protecting the very people who are also protecting us?
It’s just one reason why we think the work we do at TraknProtect is important. By providing safety buttons to those housekeepers and other customer-facing hotel employees, we hope that we’re empowering them, enabling them with better tools to summon aid in any instance of risk, to either themselves or the guests under their care. It is also our hope that with the tremendous momentum the hotel brands, lodging associations and legislators have now provided, we can now be in a stronger, and winning position, to rid sexual harassment and sex trafficking from our industry.
I cannot think of better way to broaden the mind, close deals, make new friends, connect with friends, family and customers than through the opportunities travel provides us, and as I pile on the miles this travel season, I’m thinking about the people who help make that experience safer. The fact that many of them are women is a point worth noting and it’s why now, more than any other time, that the Five Star Promise is exactly what hospitality needs.