With recent events it’s important to talk about what I call the 5 commandments of Hotel Guest Privacy.
You may, or may not, be aware of a recent story about some local celebrities who had a violent fight in a hotel they were staying at. Various gossip personalities were then offering money to hotel employees for any photos or information about what happened.
Hotels are often used as the setting, in movies and TV series, for casual encounters, illicit affairs and other unspeakable things. And hotel employees can also see this in real life too.
Often the hotels depicted in the movie or show don’t abide by the 5 commandments of hotel guest privacy. And the characters stay or their transgressions are leaked to the press as part of the plot.
This can be infuriating for hoteliers to watch!
These ‘transgressions’ may be frequent-stay guests who bring a different companion each time they stay. Or pregnant wives, or girlfriends, who rock up at Front Desk demanding to be let into the room of their partners, having tracked them using a phone app.
Or “Incognito” guests who check-in under the guise of another name. And celebrities out and about with people they are not usually seen with.
With the rising number of “Marites” (“Mare, anong latest?”) and Tolits (“Tol, ito latest”) personas around, gossip or “chismis” is becoming an in-demand commodity nowadays.
People are hungry for news about other people, particularly local celebrities. Some are even offering monetary rewards for insider information and photos, specifically from hotel employees.
After all, we are in the front row seats to some of the juiciest secret celebrity affairs and happenings.
This is a big no-no.
Even if it is very tempting.
Even if you don’t personally like the celebrity.
Even if that celebrity has treated you poorly during your stay!
To accept such an offer you are bringing yourself, your profession and your hotel into disrepute.
Hoteliers are bound to secrecy by their Code of Ethics (and fear of losing their job). Yes, we may talk about the person in hushed whispers in the back office. But we must never discuss their affairs outside of work.
Guest privacy is one of the most crucial things we are taught to protect. From Day 1 of our training. Our guest’s affairs are truly none of our business. Our guests have entrusted their information with us. And so we must do our best to protect them.
Here are the 5 commandments of guest privacy that you must always adhere to as a hotelier. That is, if you like having a job and have no interest in being sued.
Thou shall never give out critical guest information such as room numbers, stay dates and billing information.
There is a registration process at check-in where guests are asked to register the names of their companions. Only those whose names appear in the registration are given access to this information.
Any other person asking for it needs permission from the registered guest before it can be divulged.
Regardless if it’s the guest’s wife, mother, boss or offspring. We absolutely cannot give out guest information unless the registered guest gives the green light.
Who knows what barrage of problems we could unleash simply by confirming that the guest is staying for a week. Or that they ordered champagne and strawberries and a box of condom to be brought to their room?
Thou shall not issue keys to non-registered guests.
Worse than giving out information is actually giving them access to the room.
As a hotelier, we have probably all experienced a screaming wife demanding to be given a key to her husband’s room, at least once. Some may try another tactic, and sweet talk the key out of us.
Some may even offer to pay a hefty bribe. Just to get a key.
They may even have all the correct information to hand; guest name, room number, passport number, birth date, credit card details etc. But if they are not listed in the system as a registered companion, then we must never give them access to the room.
If they were supposed to be there, in the first place, there would have been explicit instructions left at Front Desk, to issue them a key. Otherwise, who knows what they may find behind that door. It could mean a messy separation for them. And a migraine-inducing lawsuit for the hotel.
Thou shall always respect the Do Not Disturb sign.
Sure, there are times when guests simply forget to turn it off, or remove the sign from their door.
However, we must never assume. We must always honor the Do Not Disturb (DND) sign.
There are many, many reasons why a guest would want absolute privacy. One of which may be why they checked into a hotel in the first place.
Don’t be one of those employees who carelessly opens a DND room, only to find a guest in the act of doing something they do not want others to see, and inciting the fury of the guest or a lawsuit.
Thou shall not post unauthorized photos on your social media.
Surprisingly, it is actually not that easy for hotel employees to get photos with their celebrity idols. Even though celebrities stay in hotels a lot.
For one thing, most hotels have a rule about employees not having their phones with them, while they are on duty. Or, if they are allowed, their supervisors and managers will not allow them to act like star-struck fans. Especially when they’re on duty.
Professionalism must still prevail!
So, when there’s that rare chance that a hotel employee does get a photo with their favorite celebrity, it can be very tempting to post it all over social media. After all, the Philippines has been called the Selfie Capital of the World.
Be very mindful, though!
One, many hotels frown upon this as it infringes on the guest’s privacy.
Two, many hotels have a rule that hotel employees are not to post photos on social media, where they are in hotel uniform in the photo.
And three, the celebrity guest may not want anyone to know they are checked in at the hotel.
By posting that one photo, however innocently, we could open up a whole slew of problems for the guest.
Thou shall not be the source of “chismis” for the Marites and Tolits of the world.
Being a hotelier allows you to become privy to a lot of confidential, often “juicy” information. However, it does not give you the right to spread this information however you please.
Being the prime source of “chismis” may give you a temporary high. But even if you’re super careful not to let anyone know it came from you, the truth has its own way of coming out. Ultimately it will catch up with you.
Spreading malicious, or even truthful, information about a guest, can cause more problems than you realize. Aside from potentially losing your job, you and the hotel you work for could be the target of a lawsuit, causing many headaches you may not be prepared for.
So, before you “chika” your way to unemployment, you better think twice.
Privacy is one of the most sacred things that we, as hoteliers, must be able to offer any guest staying with us. Guests are entrusting their information to us. Celebrity or not, they deserve this. And we must be the ones to help them protect their privacy and security, and not the ones “throwing them under the bus”.
So let’s ensure we abide by the 5 Commandments of Hotel Guest Privacy