Washington, D.C.—The American Hotel and Lodging Association (AH&LA) is creating an internal task force comprised of key industry leadership to develop recommendations in response to the issues raised in the petition, Help Enact Kari’s Law. The task force members, representing a cross-section of the lodging industry, will be drawn from among those who own and manage lodging properties across the country, as well as members who have expertise in information technology and security.
The petition was in response to the 2013 stabbing death of Kari Hunt Dunn, who was allegedly killed by her estranged husband inside a Baymont Inn hotel room in Marshall, Texas. Hunt Dunn’s nine-year-old daughter attempted to call 911 from the guestroom phone, but didn’t realize that she first had to dial the number 9 to reach an outside line. This promoted calls for change across the industry.
“First and foremost, our sympathies are with the family of Kari Hunt Dunn,” said AH&LA President/CEO Katherine Lugar. “The hotel industry understands the seriousness and importance of the issues raised. Since this issue impacts other businesses as well, we are reaching out to organizations to work together to ensure it’s addressed in a meaningful way across the board.”
Like every business in which the public is served, the more than 55,000 properties in the U.S. view guest and employee safety as a top priority, and that includes having the most direct and immediate access to emergency services. There are many types of telephone systems and configurations in use at lodging properties across the country. Some hotel telephone systems allow direct access to an outside line for 911 calls, some are set to dial both 9 and 911, and similar to other businesses, some require guests to dial 9 to obtain an outside line. Hotels must take into consideration a variety of factors, both internal, including operational challenges, and external, including municipal, county, and state requirements.