Hotels Revisit Security After Strauss-Kahn
Hotels could arm employees with panic buttons but are unlikely to put security cameras in hotel rooms following the alleged sexual assault of a maid by former IMF Managing Director Dominique Strauss-Kahn, says a Reuters report.
Hotels usually have procedures to ensure the safety of housecleaning staff, who often enter guest rooms during the day for cleaning and in the evening for turndown services.
These include working in a "buddy system," keeping doors open while cleaning and knocking on doors when entering rooms, said the report. But last week's headline-grabbing incident involving Strauss-Kahn has made them reconsider these measures.
"It's a wake-up call, any time you get any incident like this," said Strategic Hotels and Resorts Inc Chief Executive Laurence Geller in the Reuters report, noting that all hotels "rushed to look at their security" in late 2008, following attacks on hotels popular with foreigners in Mumbai. "You revise your protocols and procedures."
Strauss-Kahn, an economist and one-time French presidential hopeful, is facing charges of sexual assault and attempting to rape a housecleaning employee at the Sofitel hotel in New York on May 14. He is being held in an apartment in Manhattan under armed guard after being freed on bail on Friday.
Marriott International Inc is also revisiting its procedures to make sure they are "reasonably good," said Arne Sorenson, the hotel company's chief operating officer in the report. "This is still a fairly rare and exceptional event, thankfully, but that doesn't mean we can ignore it," said Sorenson, whose company also owns the upscale Ritz Carlton hotel brand.
Both executives said it was necessary to find a balance between the needs of employees and guests. "You have to find a way to both make sure our associates are safe and doing the right thing and you have to protect the privacy of our guests," said Sorenson in the report. "There's a little bit of tension between those two things." For example, Sorenson said the company would not put video cameras in guest rooms.
Geller said security has improved greatly over the years, he said, and that electronic key cards, key-operated elevators, closed-circuit televisions in hallways and elevators have greatly improved security, as well as a custom of front desk employees never saying a guest's room number out loud.