On June 5, 2011, Newsweek posted an article titled Hotel Confidential, highlighting a poll of 400 married businessmen. “Three percent said they’d made a pass at a hotel worker (more than half were rebuffed), and 2 percent had sex with them.” The article didn’t specify what percentage of these were massage therapists, but they did include examples of therapists, as well as maids and other hotel staff.The following paragraph sums it up: “In an industry where the customer is always right, hotels can’t afford to be puritanical about their guests’ peccadilloes—especially those of the rich and powerful men who drop thousands of dollars a night on the presidential suite. And in an age when any guest with a grievance, legitimate or not, can broadcast a beef to millions of potential customers on websites like TripAdvisor and Travelocity, hotel managers bend over backward to keep the clients happy. And so the customers’ desires can trump almost anything else—including safety and basic decency.”
The good news is that hotels are beginning to take sexual harassment more seriously. Many now provide employees with sexual harassment training and safety training. The New York Pierre hotel is now giving “panic buttons” to all of the room attendants, and other hotels are considering the buttons. I think that massage therapists as well as any other practitioners who work in a guest’s room should be furnished with a panic button.
I have written two related articles and a blog on this topic for Massage Today. Those writings included quite a few suggestions on how therapists can increase their safety.
- When a Client Crosses the Line
- Desexualizing the Touch Experience: A Proactive Approach Part 1 and Part 2
- More Sexual Harassment
What else do you think hotels could do to increase therapists’ safety?