Guest Privacy Goes Viral

By John Hendrie and WAKEUP CALL

Hold the presses. Pause the remote. Finger off the mouse. As I may not have all the facts, I shall liberally sprinkle the word “allegedly” in my reporting. The last bastion for privacy and discretion is being assailed. Hoteliers beware, for your business is under the microscope, and that slide of guest activity is being marketed to that world audience who wants to know everything right away. Welcome to viral news gathering.

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As we know, what happens in Las Vegas, stays in Las Vegas, most of the time. Well, we are talking about a New York City tale, the city that does not sleep but where sordid stories tend to steep. In the Borough of Manhattan, reportedly at the Standard Hotel, supposedly there was a kerfuffle in the elevator between the entertainer, Jay Z, and the sister of his wife, Beyonce. The sister, Solange, a “musician”, as shown in an alleged surveilance tape from the hotel elevator, was striking out with her feet at Mr. Jay Z, while Beyonce was standing quietly off to the side. Mr. Jay Z did not physically appear to be provoking the attack, which was kept in some check by a burly body guard. The activity was frenzied on Solange’s part – a kicking machine with spiked heels.

For the most part, this seems to be fairly normal activity within the entertainment world and probably pretty tame in comparison. Where the “Caveat Hotelier” alert comes from is that the episode was captured on film from a stationary camera in a hotel elevator and shared with the outside world. It went viral quickly on the Internet.

We believe that the Guest Room is sacrosanct. Only Guests know what occurred in their rooms, although, after the fact, most housekeepers can figure it out pretty quickly. Public space in a hotel might be harder to patrol and to protect privacy. That is a lot of ground to cover what with the restaurants, lounges, lobby and meeting rooms. Thank goodness for security cameras and the coverage they provide (and the secrets they capture). An elevator is much smaller and intimate and can serve as a prelude to further adventure. But, no matter what, good hotels try to practice damage control and protection of their guest’s safety and reputation with any incident no matter where on the property. The elevator and the resultant hotel tape of the alleged incident should fall in that category.

There may always be a balancing act for your employees who have access to films like this, sensitive documents or first-hand knowledge of inflammatory events. People want to know everything, particularly about their movie, music and athletic stars (you can include politicians, too). Sharing of information has a reward. Supposedly, the value of the Jay Z and Solange tape could command close to $250,000 – a big payoff for an employee who might make $40,000 to $65,000 a year.

It might be time to review your policies with your staff. Of course, you have wonderful staff – trustworthy, loyal, hard-working and service oriented. You also know that those in Hospitality are low paid, disenfranchised and many disenchanted with their lot. Remember those recent protests?

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