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Albrecht: How hotel owners can respond to the Erin Andrews case

Erin_Andrews_-_November_2014_(cropped)For those of you who haven’t been following, a trial is currently underway in a case where multiple hotel chains are being sued for their alleged negligence in allowing a stalker to video record Erin Andrews, a Fox Sports broadcast personality, in her hotel room through a reversed peephole.

I haven’t followed the case closely, but I was struck this morning when I saw the “Today Show” conducting under-cover stings, finding hotel employees who freely shared room numbers with unrelated strangers.

I got to thinking: what should a hotel chain do if faced with the threat of a caught-on-camera moment? Simply: to never allow it to happen to begin with.

Below, you will find a letter I would draft and send to every employee from the CEO. It strikes a tone that puts the guest’s needs first, puts workers on notice, promises swift action, but in a fair way so no worker is unfairly targeted.

Hotel Rooms, Inc.
123 Hotel Boulevard
Des Moines, IA 50319

March 3, 2016

Dear Employees,

You have no doubt seen the news surrounding sports journalist Erin Andrews’ case, where a stalker logged multiple recordings of her through a reversed peephole, later posting one of the videos online. The perpetrator pleaded guilty to the charge in late 2009.

So why are we still hearing about the case today? Andrews has sued the hotels where the instances occurred, alleging that hotel employees gave the stalker the dates she would be at a hotel and a room next to hers.

Let us be perfectly clear: this will never happen in our hotels and any employee found to have conducted themselves in a way that violates the privacy or safety of our guests will be swiftly and appropriately punished, up to and including the fullest extent of the law.

How will this affect Hotel Rooms, Inc. and our image? This case has raised legitimate, serious questions everywhere about the safety and privacy of hotel rooms. Just this morning, you may have seen a hidden camera-style report from the “Today Show” that targeted other hotels, determining their level of security under a similar circumstance.

The best defense in protecting our guests against stalkers and the subsequent news reports and reputational damage that follows, is to follow our security and privacy policy, including:

  • Never give away somebody’s room number or duration of stay. Use the lobby phone, dial the room number for them and hand them the phone.
  • Every time a room is cleaned, the peephole is to be examined; no exceptions.
  • If a guest has a request or complaint concerning their safety or privacy, tend to it immediately.

Remember, you can always review our full security policy online at HotelRoomsInc.com/Security

If you see any of the above rules broken, please contact management immediately. I have personally spoken with every hotel manager on our team, and they understand they need to take every report seriously, and deal with it fairly and thoroughly. If you would rather report the incident anonymously, there is a form on the security page.

Thank you for your record of service at the Hotel Rooms, Inc. Your work in keeping our guests safe and protecting their privacy is important and appreciated.

Best,

Carl Acme
President and CEO, Hotel Rooms, Inc.

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