The things that can and do go wrong in a hotel can be the stuff of lawsuits and worse, so it behooves hotel management to be fully informed about and prepared to handle such missteps.
For that reason, when an untoward event occurs, most hotels make a practice of preparing a hotel incident report, the purpose of which is to record the facts of the incident while it is still fresh in the minds of witnesses.
Brenda McGregor, PHR, vice president of human resources at Chesapeake Hospitality, observes that such events are a fact of life in this industry in particular. “As a business that is open 24 hours a day, 365 days per year, we are more likely to have guest and employee incidents.” Yet handling these situations in a way that makes them feel cared for and valued—and doing it with the required amount of diligence and speed—she says, can be quite a challenge. “With guests checking in and out—sometimes within 24 hours—it is extremely important to gather all pertinent information—including guest and witness statements, photographs, and any medical reports—before the guest leaves, to best manage the claim going forward and take action, as necessary.”
At times like this, McGregor stresses the importance of having a capable staff at the ready. “The hotel team must be well-trained regarding all policies and procedures relevant to incident reporting, and the forms necessary for reporting must be made readily available to all management who are potentially responsible for reporting and/or filing. Training must be comprehensive and ongoing with a focus on the importance of the facts of the incident.”
At her own company, McGregor says, the general manager is the one to communicate with guests, showing concern and providing them with the insurance adjuster’s name, phone number, and claim number, after which the claim is turned over to the adjuster to manage. When the event involves an employee, the property human resource director, general manager, and insurance adjuster may all work with the employee to ensure all policies and procedures—including the return-to-work program—are followed until the claim is closed.
McGregor reminds that incident reports are also an important tool for self-improvement. “We are consistently reviewing and acting on information gathered from our claims history to tailor our training and communication to limit or eliminate future incidents.”