The Do Not Disturb changes are a bit disturbing
The Do Not Disturb changes are a bit disturbing
16 FEBRUARY 2018 8:19 AM

The hotel industry has a long history of investing in and protecting guests’ privacy, so changes in hotel companies’ policies on staff accessing guestrooms might not sit well with the traveling public.

Privacy versus security. It’s been an ongoing battle, and it has surfaced in different iterations through time. In most cases, it’s been a debate over government surveillance of civilians to protect against different threats to national security.

It’s come to a head in the hotel industry following the mass shooting in Las Vegas back in October. There’s been some degree of finger pointing at MGM Resorts International about whether employees at the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino should have known or could have done more; however, security and legal experts I spoke to at the time placed no blame on the company or the staff.

Since then, Disney and Hilton have each stated they are changing their Do Not Disturb policies in ways that would give their staff members more access to guestrooms while guests are staying there. Both have denied the shooting in Las Vegas as the cause for changing their policies.

It’s difficult to say how the traveling public will respond to such changes should they become wider spread throughout the hotel industry.

On one hand, the changed policies don’t mean hotel staff will come bursting through the door at any minute. They seem like reasonable changes that hotel guests will learn about as they stay at the affected hotels. Given the shooting in Las Vegas (and potentially any other attacks at or around hotels in the U.S.), people might become amenable to the concept in the name of safety.

Not everyone uses their Do Not Disturb signs on their guestrooms doors, and of those who do, not everyone has it hanging there all of the time. People are used to hotel staff, typically housekeepers, entering their rooms during the day to straighten up.

However, I’m not 100% convinced of this. I can’t think of too many travelers, for business or leisure, who would feel comfortable with hotel staff coming into their rooms to check on things. It’s one thing for housekeeping to enter a room to change the towels and make the bed; it’s entirely another matter when the GM and a security guard enter a room because a guest kept the sign on his or her door for a certain period of time.

I’m that guest. I will keep my Do Not Disturb sign hanging on my door during my entire stay. I do it because I don’t need my bed remade or my sheets or towels changed, and I don’t leave a mess for others to clean up. I also do it because I value my privacy; I don’t want someone else coming into the room where I’m staying that has all of my stuff in it while I’m not there. I have nothing to hide, but that doesn’t mean I’m OK with the idea that someone could potentially go through all of my things.

It’s a balancing act that has been going on for a long time and won’t be ending anytime soon. There is a sudden impulse to take drastic action following a tragedy to try to prevent it from happening again, but that usually comes with a cost. Even well-thought-out plans to improve safety and security meaning someone has to give up something.

The U.S. hotel industry must decide whether taking such steps is worth the reduction of guests’ privacy in hopes that they actually make the hotel safer.

What’s your take on the Do Not Disturb policy changes? Will they spread, or will hotel companies change their course? Let me know in the comment section below or reach out to me at or @HNN_Bryan.

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