What Hotel Guests Should Expect in Wake of Erin Andrews Verdict
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There have been countless reactions to the verdict handed down in celebrity sportscaster Erin Andrews' civil trial against the Nashville Marriott at Vanderbilt University and her stalker, Michael David Barrett.
Without a doubt the most predominant, though, has been that it signals a much-needed wake-up call to the hotel industry.
"We were sending a message out to the hotels and the chains to do better than what they've done," juror Noble Taylor told the Associated Press after the hotel's owner and operator were determined to be 49 percent responsible for a 2008 peeping Tom incident in which Andrews was secretly filmed undressing in her room.
While Andrews' experience is nothing short of a tragedy, hotel guests should take encouragement from the fact the industry's existence hinges on its ability to keep guests safe.
Speaking to TravelPulse, Donna Quadri-Felitti, director and associate professor of hospitality management at Penn State said "it's standard operating procedure and job No. 1 to keep hotel guests safe. And each evening each year millions of travelers in U.S. hotels are indeed kept safe and secure."
Not downplaying the significance of Andrews' case, she added that "it's not by any stretch a frequent error that this kind of security breach would happen."
In fact, the industry has come a long way in a short period of time.
"There was a time when you would check in at the front desk and your guestroom number would be spoken to you aloud," said Quadri-Felitti, pointing to guestroom key cards as one of the ways hotel policies have been improved in the name of safety and security.
"The addition of a peephole in guestrooms was actually a security improvement," she added. "And there have been efforts to accommodate travelers who wish not to be by public areas, by elevators, by vending machines and or laundry services."
Although Quadri-Felitti acknowledged that "something of this nature is not the norm in our business," she anticipates increased efforts within the hospitality industry to improve and subsequently restore consumer confidence.
"From an industry perspective, I think it will allow all of us to heighten our sensitivity and awareness to privacy and safety issues in a world where technology and mobility of people is ubiquitous," said Quadri-Felitti. "Hoteliers will audit and review their procedures. They will enhance and think about them differently and make improvements and adjustments to training. They will stress to frontline staff some new initiatives to be more sensitive and more aware of different kinds of behaviors."
That sentiment is shared by sports lawyer Dan Werly, who laid out a similar strategy.
"I would expect that nearly every hotel will review — if it hasn't already — its policies and procedures related to costumer privacy and safety," Werly said. "I would also anticipate that many hotel chains implement additional employee training on these requirements."
Speaking for the industry, Quadri-Felitti said keeping guests safe and secure is "fundamentally what we do."
"And we do it well millions of times a year."
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