There’s a lot to consider when selecting a hospitality panic button system and GuardHyve has put together a series of blogs to help you navigate all of the factors to make the best decision for your property.  

The first thing to look at is whether your property is mandated to provide these devices to your employees.  Mandates may include:

  • Municipal Ordinances
  • State Laws 
  • Brand Standards 
  • Union Contracts

Municipal ordinances and state laws have many similarities between them and some differences as well, so you can check out the specifics of the mandate applicable to your property in library at in the link below.  But, in general, these mandates will define:

  • The size of the hotels that are subject to the regulation. 
  • What the panic button must do
  • Which areas need to be covered
  • The employees required to carry them

In addition, most mandates state:

  • The buttons must be provided at no cost to the employee
  • Prohibits retaliation against an employee who uses the device to get help
  • Allows an employee to be reassigned after using the alarm if they feel unsafe
  • Requires the employee to be paid for time related to reporting the incident to the police
  • A written notification must be posted in the guestroom warning guests that employees carry these devices
  • Some mandates require that the hotel document and investigate incidents
  • Some mandates require that the hotel maintain a blacklist of guests who are found to have engaged inappropriate behavior.
  • And defines penalties for non-compliance

Most mandates define a panic button as “a portable device that can quickly activate to summon, to the employee’s location, hotel staff who are able to provide immediate aid and assistance”.  

These laws and ordinances were written purposefully vague in order to allow properties some leeway in deciding between different technologies that are best suited for their property.  Unfortunately, it has created confusion about what is exactly required.

Several states and cities have issued clarifications that bar the use of panic buttons that only emit a loud sound or mobile phones that would not allow the employee to activate the device discretely during an emergency.

Though there are people who believe that noise emitting buttons deter a good amount of unacceptable behavior, I would highly caution against using a device that only makes a noise and doesn’t summons help with room level geolocation information.  And as much as it could shock a perpetrator back to good sense, it could antagonize them to act out more violently.

Most importantly, noise makers are more than likely not going to satisfy the mandate.  The Miami Herald did an investigation where they deployed one of these devices in a guestroom and determined that they’re hard to hear outside of the room.  

Many mandates require that these incidents be documented and investigated.  A noise emitting device won’t send a notification to hotel management, so it will be impossible to know when the button has been used unless the housekeeper comes forward to report it. 

And finally, it opens the property up to liability if the employee is harmed because they were not able to receive help in a timely manner.

All of the major brands have signed on to the AHLA Five Star Promise that will require the deployment of these devices on their corporate managed and franchised properties.  Some brands have decided to only recommend their use while others will make it a requirement of the brand standard.

The Marriott brand standard is one of the most comprehensive and offers a solid best practice.  

It requires:

  • Reliable geolocation capability with the ability to locate associates to room-level accuracy.
  • System coverage in all guest rooms, public restrooms, spa treatment rooms, housekeeping closets and service landings on guest floors. 
  • Associates that are regularly in direct contact with guests in enclosed areas should receive the device.

Whether you are subject to a state or municipal mandate, a brand standard requirement or obligated through a union contract, you’ll be in good shape if you follow these recommendations.  All of the manufacturers that are represented by GuardHyve will satisfy the most rigorous mandates.

Finally, if you are a union property, many housekeeping unions are requiring these devices as well.  The requirements generally fall in line with what we have already discussed with one exception.  Most union contracts will forbid you from tracking an employee with these devices outside of an active alert.  For that reason, most panic button manufacturers don’t track employees unless the panic button has been activated…though some offer it as an option that can be enabled.

The best place to start in selecting a panic button system is to find out whether your property is subject to a mandate and then defining what the requirements are.  We’ve compiled a list of all of the brand standards, state and local mandates that we could get our hands on in our law library, so check them out as a starting place.

Be sure to check out our other blogs about the different underlying technologies that panic buttons use and the various add-on IoT features that may be available from different manufacturers.