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Open Door Policies

Several Hotel Brands Alter Policies Around Do Not Disturb Signage

Tuesday, January 30, 2018
Dennis Nessler
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It should come as no surprise to anyone who follows the industry that security measures within hotels are being examined more closely than ever in the wake of the tragic mass shooting in Las Vegas last fall. In the case of such an unprecedented event, the true measure of its long-term impact is how it could ultimately affect change going forward. That is, perhaps, the only silver lining in such a dark cloud.

As the scrutiny continues there is no detail that is too small. This brings us to one of the hotel industry’s most long-standing and identifiable elements: the “Do Not Disturb” sign. This previously harmless element is seen by many as part of what enabled the mass shooter at Mandalay Bay to execute the attack as hotel staff honored the sign and did not enter his room for several days. As such, the future of these signs as we know them could very well be in jeopardy.

No less than three well-known brands have officially altered their policy with regards to “Do Not Disturb” signs and chances are you can expect more to follow. Hilton Hotels & Resorts, Disney and Wynn Resorts have all made policy adjustments in the interest of increased guest safety, but interestingly all have taken slightly different approaches.

Disney is clearly taking the most drastic measure of all at four of its Orlando properties replacing the traditional signs with “Room Occupied” signs instead. While guests can hang these new signs on their doors housekeeping or maintenance staff will be allowed to enter their room on a daily basis. Guests are, of course, informed of this as they check in at the property. The Disney properties implementing the change are the Polynesian Village Resort; the Grand Floridian Resort & Spa; the Contemporary Resort and adjoining Bay Lake Tower and all are part of the monorail loop that is connected to Disney’s Magic Kingdom.

While Disney is not directly attributing the policy change to the events in Las Vegas the company has acknowledged that the size of the aforementioned hotels and the sightlines from upper floors to well-populated areas was very much a factor. The company is reportedly considering this at other hotels as well.

Several Las Vegas hotels also have updated policies. At Wynn Resorts, for example, employees have been asked to investigate a room with any sign that has been in place for more than 12 hours, which may seem a little overzealous to some.

Meanwhile, Hilton—whose policy will have a far more reaching impact on the industry simply because of the sheer number of hotel rooms—has taken a more measured approach. The company has put forth a policy to stipulate that team members should inform active security or duty managers of a “Do Not Disturb” sign or light that has been in place for more than 24 hours. This certainly seems like the most sensible compromise, at least to me.

I’m sure there is a portion of guests that will be upset with some of the new policies. I know plenty of travelers who put the “Do Not Disturb” sign on the door as a matter of course the minute they get to their room and are more interested in peace and quiet than turn-down service, for example.

Nevertheless, there has to be some recognition of the world we are living in now and why it’s necessary for the hotel to monitor activity within its guestrooms, at least to some extent. None of us like taking off our shoes and belts at the airport but do we even think twice about it now?

This is no doubt a small step in the big picture but kudos to those companies for being vigilant and ahead of the curve on this. However, I would caution let’s not get too hung up on signs, or so to speak. A hotel operator shouldn’t need a policy to be empowered to investigate if someone notices something suspicious or a guest hasn’t left a room for a long period of time.

At the end of the day it’s about protecting guests by using a common sense approach to running hotels, which as we all know is not always common.

Dennis Nessler    Dennis Nessler
Hotel Interactive®, Inc.
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