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Observation: Facilities


Posted on November 06, 2007

Many people kvetch about meetings, facilities, airlines, and other related travel and meeting topics.  After kvetching, few seem to do more to ‘make it better.’  As a road warrior, meetings consultant, and frequent traveler, I thought we could get the conversation moving about how things can be better.  Then once we’ve discussed, we can select and contract with properties more intelligently.  We can write to the companies that own, manage and brand the properties, and write to the meeting sponsors, and make recommendations. 

I decided to stick with meetings and facilities and some related issues v. tackling the airlines – they have been ‘tackled’ so often!  If you are a frequent traveler or plan travel for those who are, subscribe to “Joe Sent Me” – the great e-news from Joe Brancatelli: www.joesentme.com.  It is worth the money to subscribe and the time to read what he and others write.

Observation: Facilities
Hotels, convention centers, and conference centers, used for business travel and meetings, can be the cause of delight or heartache.  Often the cause of heartache can be because there is insufficient care taken with guest safety and security.  Case in point:  on a recent trip to a major convention hotel, my entrance to the property was less than grand:  luggage given to the doorman, backpack on my shoulder, I began going up the two flights of steps, without handrails, to the lobby.  (The elevator was at another entrance, I learned, after the fact.  The other entrance is not the one at which transportation providers drop off passengers and the doorman never recommended the other entrance.)  On the fourth step, I slipped and with nothing to grab on to, fell down, hard, to the marble floor, landing with a ‘thunk’ and much pain coursing through my body.  Two people appeared – I knew they were with the hotel because they were wearing badges with the hotel logo and their first names – who never said who they were.  (I later learned one was with security.)  The upshot:  little was done for my safety or health at that time or subsequently during my 6 night stay.  (I learned later that they had filed an incident report but they did not ask me many questions and said only that if I needed anything, I should pick up any phone and ask – no direction about who to call. During my stay, no one from security called although a few people from convention services and from guest services did.  The hotel did provide transportation to a clinic.

Lessons Learned/Actions Possible and Taken:
Safety and security are overlooked as critical elements of site inspections.  Those who plan meetings, and facilities that host meetings, would rather talk about rates, dates, space and the amenities or beauty of a property.  In this property at which the accident happened, I observed how many loose railings there were when railings existed and wondered why no one had previously pointed these out.  I observed the number of security staff walking about the hotel’s lobby (their earpieces were the give away!) and yet, not seeming to really know what to do when there was in fact an emergency.  At meals, which were excellent, I saw ingredients listed on the meals and not the cooking oils or broths used, leaving the participants, hotel and meeting sponsor vulnerable. 

My room, with its ever present ‘privacy’ sign on the door [I prefer to not have my room serviced while staying in a property, supposedly guaranteeing more privacy and security], was entered at least twice by room service bearing fruit and water, gifts which were intended to help me heal, or at least to feel better.  I was grateful for the water – however, fresh cut fruit for someone who is out of the room for a minimum of 12 hours/day is impractical.  More, security checking on me would have been preferred. In the case of my fall, the group’s meeting planner immediately called a meeting of the security, front office, and convention services staff to reiterate what she had expressed in the pre-con: any injuries should be immediately reported to her.  That message was reiterated to others in the hotel.  After the fact, I have written to the hotel and will follow up with their ‘brand’ regarding actions (including installing handrails at the main entrance, securing handrails that already exist, and training door and bell staff to ask guests if they need assistance; working with room service to not enter a room that has a “DND” on the door; labeling food for all the ingredients and cooking products) they can take to ensure that guests are safer.  My recommendations will include customer service skills and safety training for their security staff.   

Footnote: A week later, I am still terribly sore and uncomfortable and back on the road.

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