All employees of the hotel are members of the security team responsible for the privacy and well-being of all guests. When Front Desk employees are well-trained with the knowledge and skills they need, they are more likely to be alert to suspicious persons or behaviors and are typically more apt to make sound and appropriate decisions. The performance and demeanor of your Front Desk personnel sets up the entire guest experience. KITV 4 News, Briona Arradondo, reports the high profile story that questions procedure used at the Front Desk.
Nashville, TN — The attorney for TV personality Erin Andrews said a man who spied on the sports reporter asked for a hotel room next to her and staff allowed it.
Andrews is seeking $75 million in damages after a man was able to get a hotel room next to hers and film her through a peephole he made in the wall back in 2008.
“Why is this person making a request like that?” asked Randy Kinnard, Andrews’ attorney. “This is dangerous. It’s a red flag. And you don’t just go, ‘Fine, we will put you next to her because you asked us to.’ That’s not the way it’s supposed to be.”
Attorneys for the Nashville Marriott Hotel at Vanderbilt University claim the hotel is just as much as a victim as Andrews.
On Tuesday, the hotel’s attorneys told a jury that Michael Barrett was a criminal with a plan and they had no way of knowing his intentions to spy on Andrews.
Barrett pleaded guilty to stalking in 2010 and was sentenced to 30 months in prison. He is also named in the lawsuit.
In his opening statements, Kinnard said the hotel was negligent by giving Andrews’ information to Barrett, who was a stranger. He argued that the hotel has maintenance requirements to check peepholes and that this would have been prevented if procedure had been followed.
By noon, the jury had heard from one former employee with Marriott International who told them it was common practice and acceptable to give guest information if someone asked about them by name.
Marc Dedman, the attorney representing West End Partners, LLC, and Windsor Capital Group, argued the hotels had no way of knowing Barrett would commit criminal acts.
“Counsel is trying to tie my clients, who are providing a service to their guests, to a criminal stalker, and they aren’t,” Dedman said.
Dedman argued Barrett, “a 220-night a year traveler,” exploited the hotel industry. He said Barrett would call hotels pretending to confirm his own reservation using Andrews’ name. He said hotel workers gave him the information because they are in the hospitality industry.
Two former Marriott employees testified through pre-recorded video about the training they received about protecting guest information.
One former employee of Marriott International said it was acceptable to confirm a guest was staying at a particular hotel if the caller asked about the person by name and hotel.
A former employee of Marriott Nashville testified on video that they were not allowed to give out guests’ room numbers for safety reasons.
Michael Mazalouskas, president of Cumberland Security, testified on video that he told the Nashville Marriott they needed more security. The hotel had only one guard on duty per shift.
Mazalouskas said he also suggested they get more cameras. He testified the hotel did not have security cameras on the guest floors.
He said hotel management originally told him they couldn’t afford another guard and later said they would look into the cameras.
Tuesday afternoon, former hotel operations manager Larry Strachan was the first witness to testify.
Strachan said the hotel has had celebrity guests like Diana Ross and Sen. John McCain, who required Secret Service detail, and never had a problem.
He said he was proud of a Marriott inspection report the hotel received two months before the peeping Tom arrived. The hotel scored a 100 percent in the security category by Marriott International.
Strachan said he does not believe the hotel needs more security. He cried on the stand when he said he wished the former general manager who died years ago would have known Barrett manipulated the system.
“I felt it would’ve exonerated us that we did nothing wrong,” Strachan said.
Inside the courtroom, Andrews was seen shaking her head after her attorney blamed the hotel staff for not using common sense.
This trial is expected to last into next week.