When No One Answers The Phone at the Hotel

Back in the mid-2000s, I had the good fortune to spend a few years on the City of Solana Beach’s Public Safety Commission and to get to learn in-depth about so many different aspects of keeping the community safe from the likes of the City’s Director of Public Safety, the Fire Chief, Captain of the Lifeguards and of course the San Diego County Sheriffs, all who served our community.

As  Commissioner,  my primary concern was always about ensuring the well-being and safety of our city’s residents and visitors. After a few recent experiences of calling hotels in various cities across the country and a similar experience outside of London last summer, I wanted to draw attention to a growing problem, The Lack of Hotel Phone Responsiveness and Guest Safety.

While it may be overlooked or unnoticed, it is an aspect of guest safety and health that must be addressed as are the risks, dangers, and perils associated with hotels failing to answer their published phone number promptly. 

Let’s start from the position that a reliable and responsive communication channel between guests, hotels, and outsiders, especially concerned family members, is essential for maintaining a secure and healthy environment for all. This connection is crucial as it directly impacts guest safety, not to mention the risk of lost business, as some of my calls were to inquire about group bookings, but no one was around to answer those calls either.

But for now, let’s put health and safety first and understand why in various scenarios, this is something important.

Emergency Situations:

  1. Emergencies can strike at any time, leaving concerned family members desperate to reach their loved ones staying in a hotel. In such situations, a direct line of communication between family members and hotel staff is crucial. By not promptly answering their published phone number, hotels not only put the safety and well-being of their guests at risk but also intensify the anxiety and fear they experienced by concerned family members. It is essential for hotels to recognize the impact their phone responsiveness has on both guest safety and the peace of mind of those trying to reach them.

Fire Safety and Evacuation:

  1. Having gone through two nights of hotel “fire alarm evacuations” once in my life, I’m well aware of the need to be aware of what’s going on. So in the event of a fire, concerned family members may attempt to contact the hotel to gather information about their loved ones and ensure their safe evacuation. A hotel’s failure to answer its published phone number in a timely manner creates uncertainty, heightens panic, and leaves family members in distress. Effective communication is paramount during fire emergencies, not only for the safety of the guests but also to provide reassurance to worried family members seeking updates and guidance. By not answering their phones during normal times, let alone emergency situations, hotels only create more distress, not less, when clarity and calm are needed.

Security Threats and Crime Prevention:

  1. Concerned family members may contact hotels to report suspicious activities, security threats, or any potential danger to their loved ones. By not promptly answering their published phone number, hotels hinder the flow of information from vigilant family members, making it harder to prevent or mitigate security incidents. Timely communication is crucial for hotel staff to take appropriate measures, ensure guest safety, and provide necessary updates to concerned family members.

Guest Health and Well-being:

  1. Family members often rely on the ability to contact hotels to inquire about the health and well-being of their loved ones. Prompt and responsive communication is vital, whether it is related to medical emergencies, allergies, or any other health concerns. When hotels fail to answer their published phone number, family members may be left in the dark about their loved one’s condition or unable to provide necessary information for their care. This lack of communication can cause distress, compromise guest well-being, and potentially lead to legal consequences. 

When I think back to 1991, the day my father passed away, I remember my cousin Herbie, a doctor, telling me how he had spent hours calling the Upper Deck switchboard attempting to reach me with no success. During that time, my mom was worried about how I would take the news, let alone get back to Philly. Those hours on my family’s part were agonizing, so one can only imagine how other family members feel when trying to locate and reach a loved one to be the bearer of bad news.

Hotel industry leaders must understand that a reliable and responsive phone line is vital for guest safety and concerned family members seeking peace of mind. Neglecting to answer the published phone number puts both guests and their families at risk, causing unnecessary anxiety and hindering emergency response efforts. Hotel managers need to recognize effective communication’s critical role in providing a safe and secure environment for guests and the concerned individuals trying to reach them, not look at the operator’s role solely as an unnecessary expense or to think the front desk staff, who are often already overworked, can handle outside calls.

In an era where well-traveled guests and concerned family members prioritize safety and well-being and report any instances of hotels consistently failing to answer their published phone numbers to the appropriate authorities. In this era of heightened vigilance, a safer, more responsive hospitality industry that values effective communication will be for the benefit of all.

Stay safe, and stay informed!