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Hotel laws & regulations: Staying in control of your state's safety requirements

Hotel laws & regulations: Staying in control of your state's safety requirements

Even if your hotel excels in cleanliness and customer service, one crucial aspect can put a damper on even a five-star stay: failure to meet safety and compliance guidelines. This applies equally to the safety and security of staff and guests. Abiding by hotel laws and regulations elevates the guest experience, boosts staff morale, and protects the establishment against costly lawsuits and a poor reputation.

Standards relating to facility conditions and hotel security are fundamental to creating a relaxed and comfortable guest experience. And while staff and management need to ensure that the criteria set by government agencies and hotel owners are fulfilled, the safety of employees and management is also paramount.

Compliance management is key to running a successful hotel. That said, it’s not always easy to keep up with changing laws and safety obligations. This guide highlights essential aspects of hotel safety and the steps you can take to ensure consistent and unwavering adherence to hotel laws and regulations.

Hotel safety laws & regulations: What you should know

panic buttons for hotel safety

Hotel owners and managers have a critical responsibility to protect their employees and guests from risks and accidents. As a leader, it is vital to be knowledgeable and competent in hotel safety laws and regulations.

Many longstanding hospitality laws relate to general safety, health, employee conduct, and guest treatment. In the past few years, however, state legislators have drawn up increasing regulations to ensure employee safety. This new wave of requirements includes state-specific implementation of laws obligating hospitality institutions to equip staff with a portable or wearable location-based panic button or safety device.

Generally, where there is legislation already in place, hotels or motels with 25-plus rooms (50-plus in some states) must provide their employees with panic devices. The specifics vary from state to state, with some also insisting on notices in guest rooms and additional employee training.

Many states execute independent laws. South Carolina, for example, requires all hotel and lodging facilities to have a viewport or similar provision that allows guests to see outside their rooms without having to open the door. Failure to comply can result in a fine, imprisonment, or both. Another example is the Texas law that obliges hotels to submit water samples annually for bacteriological analysis.

Keeping track of these complex and challenging hotel laws and regulations can be daunting. More so when you consider that these differ from state to state. Owners and managers already overextended don’t need to deal with these added complications. Thankfully, there are ways to simplify compliance management and guard against major issues down the line.

Ensure hotel safety compliance with these steps

a woman welcoming a man at concierge for guest safety

When employees feel comfortable and safe in the workplace, they can execute tasks more efficiently and with greater confidence. And compliance doesn’t only benefit them, it benefits you and your hotel guests too. How, then, do you ensure that your hotel’s safety and security features meet—or exceed—expectations?

Start with standard safety precautions

Before focusing on additional safety measures, cover the basics. Review your local, state, and federal requirements, to make sure that your basic processes are all compliant. Remember fundamental precautionary measures as well, such as access to first aid and fire extinguishers and appropriate protective clothing for working with chemicals, cleaning equipment, and maintenance or garden tools.

Additionally, consider minimizing electrical hazards, implementing (and documenting) strict kitchen hygiene standards to ensure regulatory compliance, and providing ergonomic equipment to prevent injury. Each facility must adhere to hotel laws and regulations for emergency exit access, smoke detectors, and alarm systems. Security cameras are also advantageous to both employee and patron safety.

Consult with a qualified expert

It’s easy to overlook an establishment’s safety blind spots, especially when you can’t be everywhere. Enlisting an expert who knows exactly what to look for in every department can help fill procedural and training gaps. Moreover, they will be up-to-date with the latest hotel laws and regulations.

fire alarm bell for compliance management




Face-to-face check-ins

Invest in training staff to recognize suspicious behavior. Check-ins and in-person conversations are central to learning more about guests before issuing room keys. Face-to-face interaction has the power to deter an unsafe situation. Since check-in staff have the opportunity to chat with many people who spend the night, they need to know which questions to ask before completing reservations.

Train staff to identify red flags, fraud, identity theft, and signs of inappropriate behavior. Encourage an “if you see something, say something” policy. This applies to protecting employees and managing guest safety—and the hotel's reputation.

Although many establishments are moving toward the convenience of electronic check-ins, the front desk and security staff remain integral to safety and security compliance.

Don't neglect data security

Data security is a major concern for hotels and guests. It pays to implement strict data security procedures as part of your safety and security protocols. Furthermore, keep your data protection systems updated regularly.

Reassess, update, and stay informed

hotel laws and regulations admin on call

Once you have a clear emergency response strategy, it’s not a one-and-done deal. Periodically reassess your plan and identify any new developments or shortfalls. Employee training needs to be ongoing, with industry-standard updates and refreshers. Address any recent incidents and introduce new company protocols to avoid repeat occurrences.

Your employees must know how to respond to any situation. This includes natural disasters, robberies, shootings, sexual harassment cases, fires, and other emergencies.

Make sure you register to receive updates about changes to hotel laws and regulations. It's also worthwhile to keep abreast of what is happening at other facilities. If dangerous or fraudulent behavior happens in nearby hotels, don't delay implementing precautionary measures at your own property.

If you have hotels or lodges in different locations, each establishment's laws and regulations are apt to differ. This means assessing every location and running a compliance management system for each individual location.

Keeping connected with local hotel and lodging organizations like CHLA and OHLA, or your local chapter of a national organization like AAHOA or AHLA, will help you stay on top of constantly shifting regulations across locations. These organizations spend a great deal of time sifting through legislation on the local, state, and federal level, and communicating the actionable steps for compliance, so you don't have to.

Leverage technology to stay on top of hotel laws & regulations

Every department in your facility needs to adhere to hotel laws and regulations. You can’t rely on outdated manual compliance and safety monitoring methods when overseeing a range of establishments. This puts employees, guests, and your businesses at risk. New digital compliance management developments significantly reduce errors and costs while improving safety adherence and minimizing risks.

hotel laws and regulations reception team hospitality software

Hospitality software like WrkSpot allows you to streamline operations and gain real-time systems control. WrkSpot offers a comprehensive hospitality management solution, giving you complete visibility over your properties. Because you can view real-time employee activity and room locations from anywhere and at any time, it’s possible to track and automatically assign room duties, maintenance tasks, and more—while observing the progress live. This is a huge advantage for front desk staff, not to mention managers and owners.

Hotel safety compliance made easy

With increasing health and safety demands from guests and employees, smart solutions are instrumental in managing complex and diverse hospitality operations. WrkSpot enables leadership teams to manage hotel operations, HR, employee schedules, maintenance, budgets, and guest requests—all on one platform and from any location. In addition, data-driven reports allow for more accurate budget allocation and educated decision-making while offering compliance insights.



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