Hotel Panic Buttons: Silent vs. Audible

Are all Employee Safety Devices Created Equal?

Hotel panic button

The History

During the course of their work, those working in Hospitality sometimes face harassment and assaults while dealing with guests.  This is especially true for housekeepers as they are often required to work alone and are often isolated from the rest of their team.  58% of women working within the Hospitality Industry have been victims of sexual harassment or assault while at work.  And 9 out of 10 Hospitality workers have been subjected to some type of abuse by hotel guests.

Hotel employees work hard to offer guests the best experience possible, and they deserve to work in a harassment and violence free environment.  Major hotel brands have banded together and have set requirements for hotels to provide employees with safety devices as a part of the AHLA’s 5-star promise.  States including Washington, Illinois and New Jersey have passed hotel panic button laws and local municipalities such as Los Angeles and Miami Beach have passed similar laws that require hotels to provide employees with safety devices/panic buttons as a means of protection.

A Difficult Recovery for Hotels

Hotels are facing a lot of difficulties due to the pandemic, including staffing shortages and budget constraints.  According to the AHLA’s latest survey, 82% of hotels were experiencing staffing shortages and 26% considered those shortages to be severe.  Although, 64% of hotels are offering more flexible hours and 36% are expanding benefits, 87% of hotels are still unable to fill open positions.  40% of hotels are finding it most difficult to hire housekeeping staff.  Therefore, investment in the right safety device/panic button is extremely important, for numerous reasons, including improving workplace safety and aiding in the attraction and retention of employees.  96% of employees who worked in guestrooms said they would feel safer at work if they were equipped with panic button devices.  There are a variety of panic button devices on the market that hotels can choose from, but which is most effective at keeping employees safe?

 Silent Panic Buttons vs Audible Alarm Devices

Hotel Panic buttons

Panic buttons are extremely important and making the right decision is crucial, especially when it comes to the safety of employees.  Hotel panic button legislation have been passed in many cities and states and specify requirements and deadlines for hotel panic button devices.  Employee safety device laws differ depending on the location, but most have similar requirements.

Employee Safety Device/ Panic Buttons Should Include:

Employee safety devices should have reliable geolocation capability with the ability to locate employees down to room-level accuracy.

Panic buttons should have the capability to dispatch responders immediately when an emergency alert is sent.

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.

Panic button devices should consistently work in all locations, including guest rooms, public restrooms and areas that require employees to be alone with guests.

Do Audible Alarm Devices Make the Cut?

Audible alarm devices, also known as noise makers, are devices that when pressed emit an ear-piercing sound that could possibly capture the attention of those within close proximity.  While audible alarms can alert those in close proximity, in some cases noise makers can cause attackers to become more aggressive in an attempt to silence the alarms.  Noise makers produce sounds of up to 130 decibels, that is substantially loud when compared to the average speech of around 55 decibels.  But noise maker devices do not have the ability to alert hotel security or to provide the location of the employee in distress and can be drowned out by television noise and cleaning equipment like vacuums.

Key Considerations

  • Noise makers do not send emergency alerts or provide location details to hotel security personnel.
  • Noise makers can be drowned out by television noise or cleaning equipment like vacuums.
  • Building materials such as concrete floors and ceilings reduce sound by as much as 70 decibels.
  • Drywall and other construction can also reduce sound by as much as 40 decimals.
  • Noise makers would generally cost between $10-20 per device.

Full System Panic Buttons vs. Mobile Panic Buttons

Hotel panic buttons 2

Full System Panic Buttons

Full system panic buttons are location based and require the installation of location beacons in each guest room/area. Once these devices are activated, they identify the closest location beacon, and a widespread emergency alert is sent out to the dispatch center in the hotel with precise location details.  One advantage of full system panic buttons is the ability to send out a silent alarm that cannot be heard by the assailant, allowing employees to receive assistance within minutes.

Key Features

  • Full system panic button systems require the installation of location beacons in every room/area, plus a central reporting infrastructure.
  • Panic buttons can be configured to send emergency alerts to predetermined emergency contacts or to local authorities.
  • Panic buttons transmit locations down to the precise floor and room number where the distress signal originated.
  • Information is sent in real time and is updated if the employee in distress changes location.
  • Panic buttons would cost $10,000 for the system and $150 per month for service and support.

Mobile Panic Buttons

Mobile panic button systems require the download of a panic button app to mobile devices.  When mobile panic buttons are pressed, the device sends out the employee information as well as the precise location of the emergency to hotel security personnel.  These employee safety devices enable one push activation and can be configured to alert hotel security personnel or law enforcement.

Key Features

  • Mobile panic button systems support two-way communication.
  • Mobile panic buttons enable one push activation, that can be configured to alert hotel security personnel as well as local authorities.
  • Mobile panic buttons utilize 4G technology to detect location and provide real time alerts.
  • Devices can be installed using existing Wi-Fi- infrastructure.
  • Mobile panic button systems could cost $5000 to purchase, or some options require no money at purchase but would require a small monthly fee for service.

Hotels Cannot Put a Price on Safety

Not all employee safety devices are effective at keeping employees safe.  Audible alarm devices or noise makers cost significantly less when compared to full system and mobile panic buttons, but they are not as effective, nor do they meet panic button legal and brand standard requirements.  These audible alarms emit an ear-piercing sound that could cause the attacker to become more aggressive in an attempt to silence the alarm.  Other panic button devices may be more expensive, but they allow employees to discreetly send out silent emergency alerts and receive critical assistance.  While noise makers may be attractive to hotels due to their low cost, their inability to send emergency alerts to security personnel or to provide precise location details should be a deterrent for hotels.

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.

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