Home Guest Columns Why Panic Buttons Are the No. 1 Must-Have Technology

Why Panic Buttons Are the No. 1 Must-Have Technology

Robb Monkman

Safety has become an important discussion topic across our industry as reports of unsafe working environments for hotel staff have begun to emerge in the media. Surveys around the nation show that housekeepers are sexually assaulted at over twice the rate of workers in other industries. With incidents of injury, assault or harassment against hotel staff being notoriously high across the industry, it is imperative that hotels seek out every opportunity to protect their team, and their reputation, from unnecessary risk and harm.

Embracing the industry-wide call for improved policies and resources, hotels around the United States have taken swift action to meet heightened safety standards for their employees. One thing is certain: panic buttons are now the No. 1 must-have safety technology in hospitality. To learn more, download the free e-book to explore why, when, and how to ensure your hotel staff is safe and your property is compliant with the new legislation.

Hotel employees Cicely Phillips and Andria Babbington were among hotel housekeeping staff who held public demonstrations in cities across the continent to demand more be done to stop assaults. Cicely was cornered while making a bed, pinned to the wall and then groped, the man’s face so close she could smell the alcohol coming off his breath. Andria was unexpectedly assaulted from behind, by a male guest, while cleaning his bathroom. These women were joined by many others to demand that hoteliers enforce better policies and safety measures to protect their staff from assault.

Setting a Higher Standard for Safety

From assault and harassment to abuse or injury, sweeping guest indiscretions under the rug for the sake of client satisfaction and public reputation have become something of a painful tradition in hospitality. Fortunately, hospitality safety measures have followed a similar trajectory.

In fact, 2019 was a rather momentous year to this effect, as the AHLA’s 5-Star Promise, initially announced in October of 2018, gained a 230 percent increase in participating hotels. This large-scale, highly publicized traction, along with mounting pressure from hospitality unions, has inspired legislative action in several major markets, including New York, Washington, Chicago, Seattle, Miami Beach, and more.

Risky Business

Along with new laws, union pressures and impending deadlines for compliance, it’s also important to recognize the ongoing importance of media and the ways in which internal policies, such as those relating to staff safety, can make or break a hotel’s reputation. In today’s socially influenced climate, after all, a brand’s reputation can be one of two things—their strongest asset and an integral marketing tool, or their most significant liability. Whether delivered through social media, traditional media, online review sites or word of mouth, media has the power to make or break a hotel.

Next-Gen Employee Safety Devices

In New York in 2012, hotel operators agreed to give hotel employees their own personal panic buttons following the highly publicized 2011 arrest of French politician Dominique Strauss-Kahn for sexual assault against a Sofitel New York housekeeper. It was around this time that early developers of modern panic button solutions realized the lack of urgency that the hospitality industry demonstrated regarding the evolution of staff safety technology. Fortunately, 2018 ignited a wave of change and brought with it the rise of employee safety devices (ESDs) as we now know them today.

That being said, the journey to arrive at this critical turning point has been a long one. ESDs of the past do not look like the integrated, intuitive platforms which hoteliers have at their disposal today. After all, legacy “noisemakers” were a handheld (or independently stationed) device that would emit an audible distress signal in the case of a staff emergency. While the basic principle was on the right track, these devices came with a host of rather apparent shortcomings. Fast forward to today and next-generation ESDs act as a dedicated safety platform that leverage Bluetooth technology to relay GPS coordinates of any employee in distress. As you might imagine, this represents an important, pivotal update that ensures swift response and support, both on and off property, in the case of a staff emergency.

Hotel Staff Safety Isn’t One Size Fits All

Perhaps the most important take-away is this: Hotel staff safety isn’t one size fits all. From CRM to PMS and beyond, hoteliers are privy to a choice of various “best in class” options when vetting prospective hotel technology platforms. Simply stated, not all safety technology is created equal, and as hotels continue to evolve, they require more robust platforms to support their operational structure.

The actual technology is only one part of the equation; hoteliers are urged to consider the installation and availability of support with equal precedence.

About the Author

Robb Monkman is the Founder and CEO of React Mobile, Inc. and a seasoned entrepreneur with experience launching multiple products, from idea to exit. Several years ago, Monkman was the victim of an armed robbery and hostage situation that left a lasting impression on him. He soon learned that thousands of people every day were in situations where they desperately need help but couldn’t make a call. He made it his mission to solve this problem, founding React Mobile to create a simple yet powerful personal safety platform that today is transforming the way people call for help in emergencies.

About React Mobile

Founded in 2013, React Mobile is a global leader in providing panic button solutions for hotels. Their best in class hospitality safety platform helps hotels keep their employees safe. The React Mobile system allows management to deploy response resources to the exact location of an emergency within seconds of an alert, getting help to where they need it fast. In an emergency quick response times are essential.