Annual Report FY 2004 - Research at Cornell

14. Hotels During Blackouts

Robert Kwortnik, Hotel Administration, discovered that hotels are not prepared for a future blackout even though the massive Northeast power failure of August 2003 caused significant operating failures. Hotels suffered from failures such as loss of cooking ability and check-in and billing operations and failure of water supplies and backup power. Hotel managers and staff compensated with extraordinary personal service, such as escorting guests to their rooms by flashlight, providing cold food service or food ordered in, and carrying buckets of water to guest rooms. When surveyed, Kwortnik found that most hotels—from economy to luxury—had made no plans to prepare for future blackouts: they would depend on their staffs to accommodate guests. Although extended power outages due to weather and other factors are common, some believed the blackout to be a one-time occurrence. As a result of his study, Kwortnik highlighted a wide variety of actions hotel managers can take now to safeguard the service delivery system and better prepare for emergency events in the future. A Hyatt Hotel official hailed Kwortnik’s report as one that should be required reading for hotel owners and managers.

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