Monthly Archives: April 2011

Hospitality Industry Information Security Risks: Hotel Management Must “Encrypt All Confidential Guest Data” To Decrease “Public Exposure Of Data”

“…99% of businesses around the globe at present no longer store confidential information on their systems and 75% continuously complied with PCI requirements…”

“…encrypting confidential information will “shrink the card data environment,” thus a minimal to zero possibility of public exposure of these data…”

To prevent fraud, she proposed three ways for the card industry:

  • Widespread distribution of ‘smarter’ payment devices is one, where EVM (chip-and-pin) cards will be used
  • Smarter networks to stem the cyber crime before or when it happens
  • A cardholder authentication method such as two-factor authentication

“Visa’s global fraud rate recently hit a historic low – at just over 5 cents for every $100 transacted, down more than two-thirds from the levels of 20 years ago,” she added.

She urged the card industry to step up a bit more its security measures as most consumers believe cyber criminals are ahead of what’s already in place. According to Richey, 61% of consumers are of the opinion that the security measures of the card industry are one step behind cyber criminals.

Rather than keeping pace with cyber crime which would only exhaust resources, Richey proposed getting smarter as a better solution in combating fraud and protecting card data.

“We need to use all the intelligence we have at our disposal. I think that the opportunities to get smarter and fight fraud are all around us,” she said.

Richey, on the other hand, recognized the fact that these suggestions will be costly and will require tremendous resources.

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Hospitality Industry Health Risks: Hotel Bed Bug Infestations Are Best Treated With “Thermal Remediation” With “Steam Treatments” Being A Good First Step

Bed Beg infestations at hotels can result in guilty verdicts against hotel owners if conscious and deliberate behavior led to infestations going untreated.

Bed bugs are very sensitive to heat in all stages of their development. The thermal death point for the common bedbug is 115°F. There are two common types of heat treatment for bed bug eradication, steam and thermal remediation. 

  • Steam –  Steam is very effective at killing bugs on contact and requires no harmful chemicals. A trained hotel staff member, a commercial steam cleaner, or pest management professional can perform the task however, all areas of the infested room need to be cleaned. If hard to reach areas are missed, an infestation can reoccur. The cost per room for steam cleaning can be inexpensive.
  •  The drawbacks: no residual effect, high pressure steam can blow adults and eggs from their hiding places before the heat has had a chance to kill, and steam is not 100% effective if areas are missed.
  • Thermal Remediation – Propane generated heat or electric heaters are used to raise the temperature inside the room to approximately 140°F. The heat is monitored by sensors and circulated within affected guest rooms for several hours. Controlled application of heat ensures there are no cold spots. Higher temperatures do not mean a more effective treatment, but can actually cause damage to the guest room and its contents. If employed correctly, thermal remediation is the only 100% effective solution at eliminating all bed bugs and their eggs
  •  The drawback: A typical treatment for multiple rooms can be expensive and time consuming (6-8 hours).

The following are good first steps:

VACUUMING – If an infestation is discovered in a guestroom, vacuuming the preferred hiding spaces, such as box springs and mattress seams can eliminate the immediate threat by removing the adult bed bugs. This is one of least expensive green options and can be performed by in-house housekeeping staff. However, it is not 100% effective. Bed bug eggs are coated with a sticky surface to keep them where they are laid. It is very difficult to remove them from their hiding places. Vacuuming is a good first step, but it only postpones inevitable reemergence if it is the only option employed.    
ALL NATURAL & ESSENTIAL OIL INSECTICIDES – In many instances commercial exterminating agents may contain neurotoxins and other dangerous chemicals that can be harmful to sensitive populations. As an alternative, ask your Pest Management Professional (PMP) about non-toxic exterminating agents. Most botanical insecticides made with essential oils can be just as effective as conventional insecticides. Examples of essential oils are peppermint oil, clove oil, citrus oils, lavender oil, thyme oil, and rosemary oil. 
All-natural insecticides are employed as knock down and residual sprays. The knock down sprays kill on contact. The residual sprays are designed to interfere with the lifecycle to kill over a number of days. The costs of all-natural alternatives are in-line with traditional chemicals in most cases. Both applications have minor drawbacks. Knock down sprays are not effective against bugs that are not sprayed directly. Hidden bugs can re-colonize a guest room quick. Due to their natural composition residual sprays evaporate faster than traditional commercially applied chemicals, thus losing killing power. All-natural residuals need more frequent applications by a PMP to maintain effectiveness.   
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Hospitality Industry Fire Risks: Oklahoma Hotel Is Consumed By Fire Caused By “Electrical Short” But Fire Extinguishers And Good Escape Plans Prevent Tragedy

A three-alarm fire at America’s Best Value Inn and Suites near Mustang Rd. and I-40 forced people onto the streets as flames and smoke overtook their rooms.

“…Driven by the wind, flames quickly spread into the rafters and began pouring out of the roof…. Fire officials say the fire appears to have been caused by an electrical short…”

John Thompson works at the hotel and tried to put out the flames with fire extinguishers. He went through four of them before giving up and evacuating the area.

“We could only put out what was exposed,” Thompson said. “So, we knew it was a losing battle when it traveled.”

“Initially our concern was the wind. We had a pretty good breeze that was blowing through here and heavy smoke that was drifting all the way across Reno Avenue,” OKC Battalion Chief Greg Lindsay said.

Occupants in one of the rooms saw smoke coming from underneath the floor and pulled a fire alarm. Everyone was evacuated safely including two people who had to be rescued by ladder.

“Everything worked like it was supposed to and everybody was able to get out,” Lindsay said.

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Hospitality Industry Pool Risks: Pennsylvania Hotel “Alcohol-Related” Hot Tub Death Highlights Dangers Of “After-Hours” Usage Of Pool And Hot Tub Rooms

“Management is now considering whether to prevent guests from being able to enter the room after hours…”

“…Hotel guests must use a plastic keycard to unlock a door to access the pool and hot tub room…Rules posted clearly on the door say it is open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m., and guests use the pool and hot tub “at their own risk,” 

Authorities have identified John Saviello, 42, of Bridgeport, Montgomery County, as the man who died after being found unresponsive in a city hotel hot tub.

Mr. Saviello’s death Wednesday morning was ruled accidental, authorities said. He was pronounced dead at Community Medical Center after being found in a hot tub at the Clarion Hotel on Meadow Avenue.

Mr. Saviello graduated from the University of Scranton in 1992, earning a Bachelor of Science degree in biology, university spokesman Stan M. Zygmunt said.

Why he was staying at the hotel or visiting the area was not clear on Thursday.

Authorities have not yet identified a 45-year-old woman who also was found unresponsive and intoxicated in the hot tub. She was OK after being taken to Community Medical Center, Scranton Police Chief Dan Duffy said.

Lackawanna County Coroner Tim Rowland said after an autopsy that the use of drugs and alcohol might have led to Mr. Saviello’s death, but results of a toxicology report will take several weeks.

In the hotel lobby on Thursday, assistant general manager Mark D’Angelo said the staff will review safety procedures in light of the incident.

“It’s a tragedy,” Mr. D’Angelo said. “We do have to learn from it, if there are any precautions we have to take.”

Hotel guests must use a plastic keycard to unlock a door to access the pool and hot tub room, Mr. D’Angelo said. Rules posted clearly on the door say it is open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m., and guests use the pool and hot tub “at their own risk,” he said.

Management is now considering whether to prevent guests from being able to enter the room after hours, Mr. D’Angelo said.

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Hospitality Industry Security Risks: “Extended-Stay” Hotels Can Be “Havens For Crime” Unless Extra Security Measures Are Implemented Including Use Of Off-Duty Police Officers And Criminal Record And Sex Offender Background Checks

Extended-stay hotels make up about 10 percent of the hotel industry, said Joe McInerney, president of the American Hotel and Lodging Association.

“…the list of crimes reported at a Value Place extended-stay hotel included prostitution, drug sales, methamphetimine manufacture, heroin use, drug overdoses, child pornography, theft and a rape.

“…City officials and hotel leaders met April 4 and hashed out an agreement…. The hotel agreed to employ an off-duty Arnold police officer 24 hours a day. The hotel already was checking to make sure potential guests weren’t sex offenders, but will now check for other criminal offenses, as well….”

City officials were fed up and threatened to revoke the hotel’s business license. But a recent agreement to curtail crime at the 124-unit hotel is working, authorities say.

“By word of mouth, one tells the other this is a place where you can set up shop and be unencumbered,” Unrein said. Police had been called to Value Place about 230 times since it opened, Unrein said. That’s more than triple the number of calls to the city’s three other hotels combined, he said.

Problems reached a head this month. The hotel is offering a free hotel room where an Arnold police officer can live and have allowed police dogs to roam the halls this month, said Gina-Lynne Smith, president of Value Place.

The chain has a hotel in St. Charles. Police get more calls for service at that hotel than others in town, but it’s certainly not a nuisance, said Sgt. Todd Wilson of the city’s police department.

The hotels are not popular everywhere. Subdivision residents in Oakand Park, Fla., launched a campaign to keep a Value Place from being built nearby. So far, they have succeeded.

Their guests range from those who can’t afford a lease to professionals away from home for a temporary job assignment or extended training.

Kell Stovall of Memphis, an estimator for a roofing company, said he is spending his third week at the Arnold Value Place. He plans to move to an apartment at the end of the month.

He considered staying elsewhere after hearing about the hotel’s history but opted not to leave because he hasn’t had any problems. He said police officers knock on his truck windows to check on him when he talks on his phone on the hotel’s lot.

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Hospitality Industry Guest Health Risks: Hotel Management Must Remain Proactive In “Bed Bug Infestation” Prevention Through Use Of Professionals, “Good Passive Monitoring” And Detailed Action Plans

Trip Advisor, Bed Bug Registry, Bed Bug Database and other websites allow users to upload and track bed bug sightings and encounters online.

Bed Beg infestations at hotels can result in guilty verdicts against hotel owners if conscious and deliberate behavior led to infestations going untreated.

There is even a Bed Bug iPhone App that was launched late 2010.  

There are a number of proactive approaches that can be implemented to lessen their impact on your operations when they arrive. EcoGreenHotel spoke with Michael Merchant, PhD an urban entomologist for the Texas AgriLife Extension in Dallas to discuss ways to reduce your risk:

  1. Work with a Pest Management Professional (PMP) that has experience combating Bed bugs. Rely on the PMP’s experience and knowledge to guide you through all of the steps needed to prevent or eradicate an infestation. Bed bugs are complicated pests and are resistant to many traditional chemicals and treatment protocols.  An over-the-counter chemical remedy applied by an untrained hotel staff member could be a recipe for disaster.
  2. Employ good passive monitoring in your guest rooms. Glue or deadfall traps allow hotel owners to identify potential problems quickly and without great expense. If bed bugs are spotted in a trap, a well-trained PMP can quickly identify if the infestation is limited to one room or if it has spread to adjacent rooms. Canine units trained to detect bugs can also be brought in to help identify the extent of the infestation.
  3. Develop a bed bug action plan to educate all hotel staff members what to look for in the guest rooms and how to react quickly and effectively if a guest makes a complaint in person or online. Simple visual inspections by trained housekeepers looking at sheets, mattresses and other hiding areas is an inexpensive first line of defense.
  4. Use of mattress, pillow and box-spring encasements effectively eliminates the most common breeding grounds. A typical encasement set for a king bed can be purchased for around $150. It is extremely important that the mattress encasement be placed on both the mattress and the box springs. Encasements can also help eliminate allergens and dust mites that improve indoor air quality in your green hotel.
  5. Until a nationwide eradication strategy is implemented, we will continue to see this epidemic in hotels and other lodging facilities, homes, movie theaters, dormitories, and all of the other uninviting areas they reside nationwide. Hotels will definitely be subjected to bed bugs arriving with guests on a continual basis. The problem will not go away without a fight.

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Hospitality Industry Guest Risks: Hotels From Hawaii to New York Have Employed Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) To Reduce Towel Theft

“…Linen Technology Tracking, a Miami-based company (has)  patented a washable Radio Frequency Identification (RFID) chip for hotels to sew into towels, robes and bed sheets…”

The chip can trigger an alarm if a guest tries to take a tagged item from the premises. The New York Times reports that three hotels in Honolulu, Manhattan and Miami have introduced the system but wish to remain unnamed.

William Serbin, the executive Vice President of Linen Technology Tracking tells the New York Times that high cotton prices led to costlier towels which served as motivation for developing an anti-theft system. He adds that the technology has a double purpose — in addition to catching thieves, it helps hotels monitor linen demand and adjust their supply accordingly.

It’s a successful system. The Honolulu hotel has saved nearly $15,000 since implementing the tags last summer and their monthly towel theft is now less than a quarter of what it was before. Can travelers hope for rapid rate reductions as a result? Probably not, but NewsFeed can dream.

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Hospitality Industry Guest Satisfaction: “Hotel Room Cleanliness And Maintenance” Are #1 Guest-Reported Complaints And Problems

“…the most consistently reported problems from hotel guests across the country involve room cleanliness and maintenance, according to experts at Hospitality Staffing Solutions.”

“…Properties benefit when they can maintain a static number of permanent employees with relative job security while meeting the ever-changing demand that is inherent to the travel and tourism industry with help from staffing companies like HSS, which is equipped to meet the needs of most properties within 24 hours.”

A property can offer hundreds of amenities including a first-class spa, top-rated restaurants and an immaculate 18-hole golf course, but if a guest checks in and finds their room dirty, that guest may leave and never come back – and you can bet they’ll tell their friends (and probably Tweet) about it, too!
At HSS, housekeeping specialists undergo a selective recruiting process, which includes background checks, reference interviews and extensive training sessions. As a result, they are consistently listed at the top of posted room inspection scores. 

“Room attendants are the primary ambassadors of any guest-centric facility, so we are very picky,” said Holliday. “The key to ensuring high levels of excellence among back-of-house employees is to selectively recruit the best talent and motivate them by offering advancement opportunities tied to performance. This formula has worked very well for us.”
“Hotels often need to staff entire departments in a very short amount of time,” he said. ”

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Hospitality Industry Guest Health Risks: Major Hotel Sued In New York Supreme Court Over “Legionnaires’ Disease Contracted At Dubai Hotel

Starwood Hotels and Resorts Worldwide is facing a $16.7m (AED61.3m) lawsuit in the US after two guests staying at the Westin Mina Seyahi in Dubai claim they caught legionnaires disease at the property.

The paper reported that Nogues started to feel weak and feverish two days after checking into the hotel with her son and a friend on February 14. With her health deteriorating, she returned to France on February 21 where she was also diagnosed with legionnaires’ disease.

The suit claims that Thomas Boyle, from Britain, and Elodie Nogues, from France, contracted the disease after staying at the Westin in January and February of 2009, according to a report in The National.

It claims the health of the pair deteriorated rapidly and resulted in hospital stays.

The disease is a form of pneumonia spread through airborne water droplets, which thrives in water and air-conditioning systems.

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Hotel Property Damage Risks: Texas Hotel Hit With “High Winds” And Section Of Roof “Falls Off”

“…Some of the worst (wind) damage hit the Comfort Suites, where a section of the roof just came off…”

“…the damage in the Waxahachie area was consistent with 80 mph straight-line winds…”

Signs all over town were destroyed, including some highway signs that were not only upside-down but also facing the wrong direction.

“Luckily, that’s the only damages there are to the hotel,” said Charity Betts, General Manager of Comfort Suites. Fortunately there were no injuries at the hotel.  The roof blew off around 3:00 Monday morning, and you couldn’t find one guest who slept through all this.

Robinson’s room was right under the damaged section. “It kinda felt like the room was trembling a little bit,” said Robinson.  

Over at Lowe’s, merchandise was strewn across the parking lot.  To make matters worse, the cash registers weren’t working, so all transactions had to be done by hand.

“Everybody’s just like ‘oh my gosh, I can’t believe this happened,‘” said Betts. 

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