I recently posted a blog on Hotel Insecurity.
That post addressed the issue of the high percentage of sexual harassment in the hotel industry. On the Body_Work Professional Discussion Forum, Toni Roberts posted a great commentary about the Newsweek article. She gave me permission to adapt it and share it with you.
Toni did some in-room hotel massage for many years, and while there was the occasional expectation, from her personal experience it wasn’t an apparent expectation with very, very few exceptions. She states, “Some therapists have more trouble than others. Since men seem to be more attracted to attractive women, they tend to have more problems. Our plainer sisters are not off the hook, however, because some men see them as vulnerable. And, some therapists either do not know how to or do not wish to control the mood of the session.”
Here are some of her suggestions to offset these problems:
- Make sure that the concierge who books the massage understands how to interview guests (clients). Often the therapist’s first encounter is at the client’s door, so it is important that the massage therapist assure that the concierge knows how to filter out the risky sessions. If you need to, call the client yourself to interview him/her. Be careful not to embarrass the concierge and the hotel with an interrogation or accusatory tone.
- Dress appropriately. A slightly loose khaki pant and polo is a common massage uniform. Polished shoes and neatly manicured, uncolored nails and neat, clean hair can complete the look.
- Give clients little opening to start an illicit conversation. Enter the room with confidence. Be friendly and professional, but never alluring. Sometimes shy comes across as alluring, so practice a confident tone if you need to. Many smart phones have recorders. Listening to your own voice from a recording can be eye opening. Speak in a confident voice. Know what you’re doing, where you’re going to set up, where the client is to disrobe privately. If you must bend over, make sure your behind is aimed away from their view. Behinds can excite men. Take the lead unless they seem to know the drill.
- Make a small deal of fixing the drape so they know it’s there and is going to stay there. I sometimes describe the drape as being for my modesty as well as theirs, and make a small joke about my Midwestern upbringing.
- Know your personal boundaries and be willing to end a session if you need to. Your safety is more important than their dollars.
- Call the concierge as you walk in the door so the client knows someone else knows you’re there. You might have an agreement that they call you about the time you should be leaving.
There may be other good suggestions, but there is no reason a massage therapist cannot have a good, safe career in the hospitality business.
What other suggestions do you have that therapists can take to increase their safety in the hospitality sector?