Room KeyNow that Michael David Barrett has been convicted of videotaping Erin Andrews through a hotel peephole, some would say she’s set for life. Upon closer review you’ll see that he has no money and lives in his father’s basement. She’s not likely to get the $27 million he’s been ordered to pay.

The other half of the $55 million settlement is the responsibility of The Marriott at Vanderbilt. They’ll likely take this back to court. And then there are legal fees and taxes. So any payout to Andrews will be much less. But the thing that amused me most about this case is the sentiment that all of a sudden hotels will begin to focus on safety and security.

Seriously? Do you think it never crossed our minds previously?

Before going any further, I need to make it clear that I am writing this strictly in my own opinion. I feel awful about Andrews, what happened to her, and what she deals with now every day. I am not speaking for any hotel or brand. That being said, security has always been front and center in the hotels where I have worked.

Believe me, there’s nothing like facing the barrel of a White House Secret Serviceman’s gun and being told to “Find another stairwell” to keep you on your toes. Not all situations are that extreme, but there are usually protocols in place for people requiring extra levels of security. We have back entrances, areas of the hotel that are more private, and often times the option of extra security patrols.

Unless you’re like the comedian Gallagher who did flips across my lobby and popped up in front of the desk. Not exactly hiding.

In all seriousness, most hotels make guest safety and security a crucial component of staff training. We drill into their heads to never say a room number out loud. Never transfer a phone call to a room number unless the caller knows the guest’s name, and when there’s a celebrity in house you pay extra attention to what goes on. They’re usually under a made up name, and you don’t discuss their presence in front of non-essential staff. Those are the basics.

And those tenets can be translated into the same security measures for us regular folks. Except we use our own names. I hope.

But if you’re really concerned about your own safety when staying in a hotel, my best advice is to be alert. Don’t flash your key or room number. Be aware of who’s around you and any suspicious behavior. Keep your deadbolt on and don’t answer the door to someone if you didn’t initiate the interaction. For example, call the front desk if you need to verify that it’s a maintenance person at your door claiming he needs to enter your room.

No one can guarantee complete safety a hundred percent of the time. That’s just not the world we live in, unfortunately. Hotels will do their part, as we have for decades. But if you want to steal the extra measure I employ, a sticky note will cover your peephole.

You’re welcome.


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