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Should You Consider Changing Your DND Signs?

Should You Consider Changing Your DND Signs

For many, hanging the Do Not Disturb sign outside their hotel room door guarantees privacy and often an uninterrupted night’s sleep.

Yet, this traditional sign has fallen out of favor as hotels across the United States are ditching their Do Not Disturb (DND) signs. Why?

In the wake of the October 1, 2017, Las Vegas shooting outside of the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino, hotels are worried about preventing a similar act.  This is because the shooter perched himself on the 32nd floor of the hotel shooting down at more than 22,000 country music fans below.

It turns out the shooter had holed up inside his hotel room with multiple firearms for several days, and the Do Not Disturb sign kept hotel staff out.

Because of this, we ask the question, “Should you consider changing your DND signs?”

First, let’s look at the legality of the signage.

Privacy and Security

For many years, hotels have provided ample privacy for their guests, going into their rooms only when the DND sign isn’t on the door.

Hotels have also provided security for guests. Rooms have locks, usually including a deadbolt that can only be opened from the inside. Hotels usually also try to accommodate their guests with special requests and holding their valuables for them.

Yet, on the heels of the Las Vegas tragedy, many hotels are announcing regular check-in policies for their guests. Some of you may wonder whether this is actually legal.

When it comes to legal issues, hotels have a responsibility to keep their guests safe. Security should be of utmost importance to you. For example, if you don’t take security precautions, you can run the risk of a lawsuit.

So, keeping your guests safe and keeping your hotel free of lawsuits makes good business sense.

What About the DND Sign?

As for specific laws regarding your guests, you’ll want to check with your state. Some states require you to give your guests privacy in their rooms until they checkout, while others don’t.

What you can do is ask permission of your guests to do room checks. The Do Not Disturb sign can still show you that your customers want privacy, but you’ll still be able to do a room check if they give you permission, and the sign is off the door.

You might also consider asking guests if you can simply open the door or check in by phone. Open the door to communication to avoid problems in the long term.

do not disturb

Case Study at Caesars

In Atlantic City, New Jersey, Caesars Entertainment has decided it will check guests rooms that have a Do Not Disturb sign hanging on the door for more than 24 hours. In this case, it’s the sign that actually triggers the check. Security guards will conduct the room checks for safety’s sake.

They are also in the process of giving panic buttons to their employees, so they can get help in an emergency.

These policies are expected to go worldwide at all of their properties – 47 casinos in five countries.

Caesars joins other properties including Disney, Hilton, MGM Resorts International, and Wynn Resorts. Some of them check rooms with Do Not Disturb signs at 12 hours, others at 24 hours, and others at two days.

These checks generally happen if the sign has been up, or the staff hasn’t seen or spoken to the guest. Most hotels also reserve the right to enter at any time for a welfare check.

Case Study at Disney Properties

Walt Disney World Resorts pioneered the new room signs ditching the quintessential Do Not Disturb Sign for Room Occupied signs.

They tell guests that resort employees will enter their rooms once per day to do a room check. If the Room Occupied sign is on the door, the hotel staff must knock and identify themselves first.

It appears they made these changes to avoid someone hunkering down in their rooms with guns and ammunition as in the Las Vegas shooting. Disney World says the changes were made for security, safety, and the guest experience.

So, in the case of Disney World, they are reserving the right to go into private hotel rooms once per day regardless of the signage. Employees can enter for reasons including maintenance, safety, security, or basically any other reason.

Some customers are definitely in favor of the added security and ease it brings, while others may not be pleased with what they think is an invasion of privacy.

Encourage Open Communication

Do be cognizant of the fact that many of your guests may have reasons to leave the Do Not Disturb sign on their door. Perhaps they are sick, or they just forgot.

Whatever the case, encourage your guests to communicate with you. It may be that daily checks aren’t necessary if you know the reason behind the DND sign.

Let your guests know why you are changing your policies and signage. This goes a long way to putting them at ease.

After all, you must manage all suspicious or unsafe behavior.

To Conclude

The bottom line is that you own your hotel, and you have the right to enter your rooms when you’re concerned about security, the safety of guests, illegal activity, maintenance, and sanitation issues. (tweet this)

Most of your hotel guests aren’t going to hang the Do Not Disturb sign on their doors for 24 hours. They may simply hang it when they go to sleep, or if they’re in the shower.

Because of this, the impact of the change to your signage shouldn’t be significant, and you owe it to your staff and your customers to keep everyone safe.

So, should you consider changing your DND signs? Take a look at your policies, your state’s laws, and then create a plan for managing your hotel’s safety.

Once you’ve done this, you can allow for new, updated signage and policies that allow your employees and your guests to feel safe at all times. 

Finally, do be sure you explain your new policies and signage to each guest and give them a written copy, so they aren’t surprised.

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Images: Jilbert Ebrahimi and Bill Anastas on Unsplash

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