Navigating the “Panic Button” Mandate Around the Corner

Assuming you live and breathe current topics and trends in hospitality like we do, it’s a given that you’ve shared conversations with your peers about how rapidly your world is changing. As a quick exercise, it took me about a minute to jot down my own list of “topics du jour”:

  • an increasingly diverse, connected, discriminating clientele
  • construction, competition & room surplus
  • workforce challenges
  • environmental (green) initiatives
  • technological integration
  • changing regulatory landscape
  • the unforeseen pandemic (unfortunately a late add)

While each legitimately deserves its own multi-faceted discussion, one element of the regulatory realm currently sits in the crosshairs of government, brands, management companies, unions and associations for 2020. That topic: Panic Button mandates. Listen closely, you might hear the dominoes falling.

By mandate or not, employee welfare is anything but a new concept; however, attention from such an active collection of stakeholders is providing much needed definition and formality. AHLA’s 5-Star Promise forms the basis for this multi-faceted initiative. In it, panic buttons play a central role.

Regardless of where you operate along the spectrum – whether limited, select or full service, luxury, casino/resort, brand-owned, franchised or independent, this is an obligation to be taken as seriously as your OCC and ARR. In the worst-case scenario, personal safety devices save lives.

Of course, there are as many ways to vet staff safety technology as there are linens to strip on a given day. The availability of vendor and product information, white papers, reviews, referrals and peer insight has never been more abundant. Resources like these, coupled with interactive presentations/demos and “good old-fashioned” human interaction can effectively help narrow the most appropriate option(s) for you. As part of AiRISTA Flow’s hospitality team, I can personally attest that we have this down to a science, as I routinely take interested hoteliers from A to Z in less than 30 minutes, including program options, a software demo, and even pricing (yes, it’s true!).

Alternatively, some prefer the rigor of a formal RFP process, weighing submissions from responding vendors based on criteria most important to them. HTNG, a not-for-profit trade association that aligns hospitality companies with technology innovators, has created an RFP template that can help even the most novice shoppers educate themselves. If this is your M.O., click here.

Regardless of the path you choose, the process need not steal endless hours, require a pile of documentation, or keep you from purveying the best guest experience in town. Quite the opposite. A worthy vendor partner will understand that while you value safety, mandates are impositions that don’t add to your bottom line or give you a competitive advantage. The right vendor will be prepared to do the heavy lifting FOR you.

The very beginning of the lifting process should consist of a brief, but healthy exchange of key information. While the weight of individual factors will vary, these topics should be considered to ensure your end-result matches your vision:

  • Company background & experience: Increased demand has spawned new “safety experts” overnight. Many have zero hospitality experience or expertise in RTLS (much less staff safety). The biggest favor you can do yourself is to start down the path with an established vendor.
  • Underlying technology & solution infrastructure: Different environments call for different measures. As you turn over stones, you’ll hear about on-premise and hosted systems, stand-alone and integrated infrastructure, Wi-Fi, GPS, BLE, cell phone apps and even GPS (though this goes far beyond need here). A word of advice – be mindful not to add unnecessary complexity (generally equating to extra work for you) to the process.
  • Product and package options: The emphasis here should be on variety and flexibility. The right partner will have thought through the situation as it impacts YOU and designed their solution to be inobtrusive to YOUR environment, workflow and budget!
  • Process, roles & responsibilities: It cannot be overstressed that planning and implementing your solution should be orchestrated by your chosen vendor, not left on your doorstep. The right vendor partner will lay out a step-by-step process and a timeline to anticipate completion.
  • The X-factor: Above all else, hospitality is a people business. Ask questions, do your homework, and remember that the best partnerships are generally those that start with that “gut feeling”. The value of a partner who demonstrates an investment in you that equals yours in them cannot be overstated.  

AiRISTA Flow’s dedication to the hospitality market spans years. This collection of notes, thoughts and tips is a condensation of our conversations with busy professionals like you, who are facing the near-term prospect of deploying employee safety technology. The intent is to help clear what can be a cluttered path and help hospitality “at large” start off on the right foot.

As the globe’s largest provider of staff safety technology, AiRISTA Flow develops, manufactures, sells and supports our solutions worldwide. If we can be of help in your process, contact us today to schedule a short conversation and experience the human side of technology