Monthly Archives: February 2011

Hotel Industry Crime Risks: Missouri Hotel “Disruptive Party Room” Turns Into Multiple Murder Crime Scene

At 3:19 a.m., a caller told a dispatcher that there was a large group of people and a “disturbance” inside a second-floor room at the Red Roof Inn.

Authorities have identified the three men who were killed in a shooting early Saturday at a party inside a Northland hotel room. Investigators have not determined what prompted the shootings that occurred early Saturday at the Red Roof Inn near Interstate 435 at Missouri 210.

Joksimovic and Hamidovic died at the scene. Elizondo died early today at a hospital after he was taken off of life support.

Marcus Regan, Metro Squad spokesman, said it remained unclear what happened. There were about 15 people inside the second-floor hotel room. Something went wrong during the party and several gunshots were fired, Regan said.

Investigators continue to look for witnesses, he said. Relatives of Joksimovic declined to speak, but through a family interpreter, his mother said her son was a good kid. The family had moved to the area about two years ago. North Kansas City school officials said Joksimovic, who is of Serbian descent, attended North Kansas City High School and was on track to graduate this spring.

Authorities said that the party had been disruptive while in Independence. Twice their revelry had triggered noise complaints that attracted police.

Investigators did not immediately know what prompted the shootings. As the shots rang out, all three victims slumped inside the hotel room.

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“P3 Hospitality Risk Update”: “Title 3 And ADA Law Changes” From Petra Risk Solutions’ Risk Manager Joe Fisco (Video)

Petra Risk Solutions’ Risk Manager, Joe Fisco, offers a P3 Hospitality Risk Update – ‘Title 3 and ADA Law Changes’. 

P3 ( Petra Plus Process) is the Risk Management Division of Petra Risk Solutions – America ’s largest independent insurance brokerage devoted exclusively to the hospitality marketplace.

 For more information on Petra and P3 visit or call 800.466.8951.

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Hospitality Industry Health Risks: Hotel Management Must Make Guest Room “Cleanliness” A Priority As Mattresses, Bed Covers And Bathroom Sink Areas Are Havens For Germs

“…In hotel rooms that aren’t properly disinfected, some of the germiest areas tend to be the faucet and sink areas, the flusher of the toilet, the underside of the toilet seat and the shower floor…”

“The first thing I do when I stay at a hotel is remove the comforter and store it in the closet.”

When it comes to hotel bedding, allergens are the biggest problem for guests, Tierno said. Evidence of bedbugs is an immediate dealbreaker for Tierno, but we’ll leave them out of the picture here since that problem is closely related to the presence of guests, not germs.

You can probably imagine what might be lurking in the mattress, but here’s a sampling for those who hesitated: skin cells (when humans sleep they shed about 1.5 million cells or cell clusters an hour), human hair, bodily secretions, fungi, bacteria, dust, dust mites, lint, insect parts, pollen, cosmetics … and more.

Some of the newer hotels use the type of impervious, waterproof covers Tierno carries with him, but most don’t, he said. While the covers were developed for allergy sufferers, Tierno encourages everyone to use them at home and on the road. Ask when you reserve if the hotel uses allergy barriers on beds.

And definitely ditch the bedspread, Tierno advises.

Hotel bedspreads became a hot topic when one featuring bodily fluids from several sources was introduced in boxer Mike Tyson’s 1992 rape trial. The American Hotel & Lodging Association got so many queries at the time that it came out with a statement saying the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention “has NEVER identified, seen, or classified ANY significant disease outbreak in hotel or motel rooms as a result of hotel bedspreads and blankets.”

While many hotels have followed in the footsteps of Westin Hotels and Resorts, adopting a duvet model of bedding mimicking the brand’s Heavenly Bed, plenty of chains on the lower end still use quilted bedspreads.

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Hospitality Industry Advertising Risks: Misleading Hotel Guests Using Online “False Reviews” Or “Photoshopped” Images On Hotel Website “Violates The Law”

“…a person or company that endorses a service or product should be upfront about any financial connection they may have with the marketer. For example, if an employee of a hotel writes a review of the hotel, they must say they are an employee. Posing as an independent reviewer would violate the law…”

“…Fabricating a property’s appearance through the use of Photoshop or trick photography, or posting false online reviews to create a more appealing facade is not recommended or condoned by the American Hotel & Lodging Association…”

Misleading potential guests is not only ethically objectionable, it also minimizes the chance for repeat business, word-of-mouth referrals, and positive online reviews. Additionally, planted reviews are typically transparent and the intended result has the opposite effect.

For hoteliers, AH&LA recommends addressing and responding to negative online comments and accurately representing the hotel in online and offline material to ensure guest satisfaction and long-term success. For consumers, AH&LA recommends reviewing a mix of high, low, and medium online reviews to identify consistent characteristics of the hotel. Additionally, it’s advised to use multiple sources to obtain the most accurate depiction, including visiting the hotel’s Website, online and offline review sources, and Facebook.”

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Hotel Industry Property Risks: Central Florida Hospitality Industry Working With Law Enforcement To Train Employees To Avoid Acting On “Prank Calls” That Damage Property (Video)

Members of Central Florida’s hotel and hospitality industry said they have trained workers to watch out for these pranksters to avoid property damage.

“We’re glad the [Orange County] Sheriff’s Office has been keeping an eye on these and getting to hotel employees prior to anything happening anywhere,” said Brian Martin, communications director for Visit Orlando, formerly known as Orlando/Orange County Convention & Visitors Bureau.

Deputies at the Orange County Sheriff’s Office said a clerk at an International Drive-area hotel received an automated call from an unknown caller Feb. 9 saying to pull the fire alarm and activate fire sprinklers because of a blaze in the hotel.

Cpl. Marcus Camacho of the Sheriff’s Office said employees in both incidents immediately disconnected the call and didn’t heed the callers’ warnings — a positive sign the hotel industry is on to these pranksters.

For Central Florida, an area synonymous with tourism and hospitality, the pranks pose a particular danger to travelers, the hotel industry and local law-enforcement officers, who must be pulled from other duties to respond to the bogus incidents.

Similar pranksters in 2009 succeeded in tricking hotel employees and guests — including an Indian River County sheriff’s deputy — to trash hotel rooms, causing thousands of dollars in damage to hotel property and personal belongings.

The sheriff’s corporal has been following these incidents for several years and thinks many of them are possibly linked to a Canadian group called PrankNet or a copycat caller.

The group, also known as Prank University and PrankU, has gained notoriety across the country. Pranks the group orchestrates are often played live over a members-only Internet chat room and have led victims to destroy private property in an effort to save themselves from what they perceive as imminent danger.

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Hospitality Industry Internet Risks: Hotel Management Must Train Employees To “Check Security Software And Certifications On Websites” To Prevent Downloading Internet Viruses

“These Internet scammers are very sophisticated…They’ll send an e-mail that looks like eBay or PayPal, asking for your information. The attorney general speaks often about Internet safety, and he encourages consumers to check the security software and certifications on websites and never store their personal information there. We have an identity theft protection tool on our website,…”

Every website you visit tags your computer with a tracking device called a “cookie.” Your every move online — e-mail, downloads, credit-card purchases — is stored on your own computer’s hard drive as a digital footprint, even though you religiously delete and empty your recycle bin.

(A woman) was digitally minding her own business and was accosted by a phony website phishing for her personal information — something all too common on the Internet. As technology insidiously pervades every aspect of life, personal privacy becomes more endangered and difficult to maintain. Erik Eckel, a managing partner at Louisville Geek and Berg’s computer service tech, called her problem “one of the biggest trends we’ve seen.

Users will click on a link on someone’s Facebook page, or travel to a site that’s infected and they receive a pop-up window saying, ‘You’re infected. You want to go ahead and license the software? Only $39.95.’ The pop-up won’t go away, people buy it and then an illegitimate user has their credit-card number.” And then there are hackers, like David Kernel, now serving a yearlong sentence at the Ashland Federal Correctional Institution in Kentucky for invading Republican vice presidential candidate Sarah Palin’s private e-mail account during the 2008 election and sharing her password and telephone number.

Even Kentucky Attorney General Jack Conway was a victim of identity theft, weeks after announcing a special unit on cybercrime.

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Hospitality Industry Employee Risks: Hotel Management Must Establish “Off-The-Clock” Policies For Employee Responses To Business Calls, Texts And Emails

Adding to the complexity of off-the-clock rules are the number of employees who respond to e-mails, text messages or phone calls after their shift is finished. Workers often do so by choice, but the employer could be held liable for overtime should the employees file a later claim.

“Time spent on these activities will likely be deemed compensable,”

One area that has attracted a significant amount of attention in recent years is rest periods; defined as requiring a 10-minute break period for every four hours of work, and meal periods of at least 30 minutes for shifts lasting longer than five hours.

Previously employers were required by law to ensure their employees took breaks appropriately, but it was difficult to manage, particularly for employees who preferred to take a break and conduct personal business at their desk or work station.

In an appeal of a court order in the case of Brinker Restaurant Corp. vs. Superior Court, the appeal reversed the stricter order, ruling that rest and meal breaks need only be made available, and not ensured.

As this is an issue that affects so many people and produced so many lawsuits, the California Supreme Court granted a review of Brinker decision. A final ruling is expected this year.

“We recommend counseling employees to get off the clock and take their break,” Poole said.

There should also be wording describing the break periods the employee is required to take, at the bottom of every time sheet or card an employee signs, Koegle said. Repeatedly signing a time card with the advisory would be one means of acknowledging the law by employer and employee alike.

Employers should include strong written policy in their company employee handbook that nonexempt employees are not expected to work after-hours, and advise their employees of the policy.

Last, companies requiring employees to change in and out of uniforms at the workplace must compensate the employees for the time spent doing so.

Privacy expectations

The recent technology explosion brings a whole new set of complications for employers. The U.S. Supreme Court rules that an employee with a company-issued device such as a cell phone, smart phone or computer has a reasonable right to privacy while using the equipment.

First Amendment rights protect employee messages, even those a company deems objectionable. A company must have a reasonable cause to search text, e-mails or Internet browsing by an employee.

It is expected however that in the next few months the courts will rule in a company’s favor, granting a company the right to prohibit activity such as surfing the Internet for pornography. Employee use of social media, whether performing duties on the job or for personal use, is also a hot topic.

Companies will need to craft well-written employee policies outlining actions that are subject to discipline or termination. The next question will be how policies can be enforced if an employee violates policy after-hours when they are off-duty.

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Hospitality Industry Health Risks: Hotels Increasingly Going “Smoke-Free” As Guests Demand “Healthy Environments”

The American Hotel & Lodging Association says, however, that there are 50,800 lodgings of 15 or more rooms throughout the country. Many lodgings not rated by AAA are likely to be smoke-free, says AAA’s Michael Petrone.

A growing number of state and local governments have recently passed laws restricting smoking in hotels and other public places. And AAA, which annually inspects lodgings and has the most extensive list of smoke-free ones, approves and rates only about 31,000 lodgings.

  • Westin Hotels & Resorts said it was responding to guests’ demands for a healthy environment and became the first chain to go smoke-free at its U.S. hotels.
  • Marriott, the nation’s largest hotel company, made nearly all its more than 2,500 U.S. hotels smoke-free several months later.
  • Marriott subsidiary The Ritz-Carlton, Walt Disney, Sheraton, Comfort Suites and a few other chains followed with all smoke-free U.S. hotels.”

We will continue to see either properties go entirely smoke-free or increase non-smoking rooms not only in the United States but around the world,” says Joe McInerney, president of the American Hotel & Lodging Association.Hyatt Hotels & Resorts — which has two smoke-free brands, Hyatt Place and Hyatt Summerfield Suites — agrees.

“The smoke-free hotel trend has finally caught up with the rest of the movement,” says Bronson Frick, associate director of the Americans for Nonsmokers’ Rights. “Airlines went smoke-free in 1990, and California was the first state to enact a strong smoke-free law that included restaurants and bars in 1994. It took the hotel industry until 2006 to catch on that there was public demand and support for smoke-free hotels.”

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Hospitality Industry Legal Risks: The 2012 “Americans With Disabilities Act” (ADA) Update Will Impact Hotel Ballrooms, Gyms, Spas And Employee Areas

“…the changes that are most significant to the hotel industry will affect public spaces, such as ballrooms and assembly areas, gyms, spas and employee areas…”

“…the current standards mandate that if you have six toilet compartments in a restroom, not only does one have to be a large ADA stall, but you have to have a second ADA stall that’s designed for people who have mobility issues. The second stall must be narrower and have rails on both sides…”

The new requirements take effect on 15 March 2012. Because the new rules will not be requirements for more than a year, any new development or remodeling completed before the new law goes into effect will be considered compliant.

The new standard is triggered by six fixtures, not compartments, in any combination of toilets or urinals. If the bathroom has only two stalls, one has to be the big ADA stall and the other has to be for those with mobility problems.

Other changes, according to sources:

  • The amount of counter space provided in the bathrooms of accessible rooms must be equivalent to the space provided in non-accessible rooms.
  • There is more explicit information about the acceptable depth of counters, which would apply to registration counters and counters in retail areas.
  • Swimming areas and spas are subject to expanded rules on accessible routes. Depending on the size of the pool, there may be a requirement for more than one access route into the pool, such as a ramp and stairs with handrails.
  • If there are multiple elevators that respond to the same call button, all elevators must be compliant instead of just one so that someone in a wheelchair doesn’t have to wait for the accessible one.
  • The disabled must be able to make reservations for guestrooms in the same manner as anyone else; if a hotel has an online system, they have to be able to reserve an accessible room online.
  • There are increased requirements for accessible routes within buildings.

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Hospitality Industry Data Security: Hotel And Restaurant Management Should Consider “Tokenization” For Credit Cards And Sensitive Data

“…tokenization is a data security model that generates surrogate values, called tokens, to replace sensitive data—credit card numbers, for example—in applications and database fields. The sensitive data is simultaneously encrypted and stored in a central data vault, where it can be unlocked only with proper authorization credentials...”

In 2011…expect to see many more mid-sized to large enterprises adopt tokenization more broadly to protect many other types of sensitive information, including electronic health records (EHR).

It does this by removing sensitive data from applications and databases, which has the added benefit of reducing scope for Payment Card Industry Data Security Standards (PCI DSS) compliance audits.  Over the past couple of years, the tokenization data security model has taken its rightful place alongside data encryption, and it is well on its way to becoming a commonplace solution for credit card protection.

What’s more, a particular version of tokenization—Format Preserving Tokenization™—is equally adept at protecting personally identifiable information (PII) and electronic health records (EHR) to help organizations comply with data privacy laws like the EU Data Privacy Directive and HIPAA.

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