What Should Hotels Look for in Panic Button Technology
According to the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission, hotel housekeepers are especially vulnerable to incidences of harassment due to the isolated nature of their jobs. During the course of their work, hotel employees are often required to work alone and are often isolated from the rest of their team. A recent study found that 58% of women working within the Hospitality Industry were victims of sexual harassment or assault while at work. 96% of those who worked in guestrooms said they would feel safer at work if they were equipped with panic button devices.
Numerous cities and states have passed hotel panic button laws and major hotel brands have developed panic button brand requirements as well. Hotels must act swiftly in order to meet fast-approaching deadlines to adhere to panic button legal requirements, brand standard requirements and union requirements. Major hotel brands like Hilton, Hyatt, IHG and Marriott International have set deadlines for their properties to become compliant with hotel panic button requirements by 2023.
AHLA 5-Star Promise
The American Hotel and Lodging Association (AHLA) and major hotel brands announced the 5-Star promise. Participating members pledged to provide hotel employees with safety devices, to provide training and to update their policies in order to increase the safety of hotel employees. The AHLA also took steps to help hotels connect with panic button providers by releasing a Device Buyer’s Guide, created in partnership with Hospitality Technology Next Generation (HTNG). To date, almost 60 member companies representing 20,000 hotel properties have committed to prioritizing employee safety and providing employees with safety devices/panic buttons.
Hotel Panic Button Requirements
Many cities and states have passed hotel panic button laws and have set specific guidelines as to what constitutes as a panic button device. Panic button devices should have the ability to provide precise location information down to the exact floor and room number and as the location changes, panic button devices should send updates in real time. This will allow responders to locate the distressed employee within seconds or minutes of an emergency alert. Hotel panic button requirements differ depending on the city or state, but most have similar requirements as to what constitutes as a hotel panic button device.
- Panic button devices should be easily activated by a single action like a push, pull or tap. They must provide a sustained signal without delays caused by entering passwords or waiting for the system to turn on.
- When panic buttons are activated, the signal is effective for the circumstances (e.g., designated personnel will be able to detect it regardless of their location and distinguish it from other audible or visual alarms and noise from vacuum cleaners and other sources.)
- Panic button devices should be designed to summon immediate assistance and enable responders to accurately provide reliable locations down to room-level accuracy of where the distress signal originated.
- Devices should consistently work in all locations, on all shifts and the activation of one device should not obscure the activation of other devices.
- The device should minimize unintentional activation and resist possible disabling by attackers.
What Should Hotels Look for in Panic Button Technology
The right hotel panic button technology can ensure that hotels meet all requirements, while providing a safer work environment for employees. So what should hotels look for when it comes to panic button technology?
Panic button signals should be detectable in all locations, reliable connectivity and complete coverage is essential in locating employees in distress. There are hotel panic button solutions that combine Bluetooth, GPS, cellular LTE, and Wi-Fi to ensure reliable connectivity and prevent loss of signal in dead zone areas.
Panic button devices should be wearable and easily accessible. Panic buttons can be worn around the neck, they can be attached to belts or worn anywhere on the employee’s clothing that allows for easy access in the event of an emergency.
The battery life of hotel panic buttons is crucial, as employees will wear devices every day for the entirety of their shifts. Panic buttons can be powered by rechargeable batteries, non-rechargeable batteries, or swappable devices. Some panic button devices offer a battery life of 2 years and other solutions are rechargeable and don’t require batteries to be replaced.
Hotels also need to ensure that there is no disruption of the signal to and from panic button devices. Therefore, the hotel network must be secure, employee safety devices offer encryption on each device, as well as within the hotel network. Panic button systems also have the ability to track specific computer IDs and can identify suspicious activities.
Hotels need an easily managed panic button system that centralizes distress calls and allow security personnel to be immediately notified during emergencies. Once panic button devices are activated, a widespread emergency alert should be sent out to the dispatch center in the hotel. Hotel panic buttons can also be configured to send emergency alerts to predetermined emergency contacts or to local authorities. All information and updates should be relayed in real time and should be updated if the employee in distress changes location.
The admin portal monitors the connectivity status of every panic button device, their battery levels, the employees they are assigned to and also records a history log of all incidences. A panic button system that allows hotels to efficiently manage all aspects of the employee safety system is important, especially for hotel brands with multiple locations and large amounts of employees. There are hotel panic button systems that allow access to the admin portal from tablets and mobile devices, allowing for efficient management of all devices.
Vendor Spotlight: RelayPro
Hotel panic buttons are a new requirement for hotels, but they don’t have to be a new expense. RelayPro was recently approved by Marriott, IHG and Choice Hotels and has been installed in nearly 2,000 properties. RelayPro is BOTH a 4G/Wi-Fi walkie talkie and a cutting-edge panic button with VOICE communication.