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Who is responsible for “duty of care” (and the rest) when there’s a theft in the training room in a hotel?


Like many trainers, I can find myself delivering a programme as a "subcontractor". Though it's my content and copyright, the other training company does the selling, the admin, and manages the venue. They have the contract with the participants and the venue. I turn up, stand up, sing and dance, and deliver the goods. Last week I was the trainer in such a context, delivering a 2 day programme in London. The venue was the 5 star Marriott Hotel Park Lane in London. 3 participants had bank cards stolen from bags left in the room during the first morning coffee break; my passport and 2 bank cards were also stolen. It could take me up 12 days to get my passport replaced. I'm British, but currently my home base is in France. The Marriott is taking no responsibility at all at any level for my situation. I am trapped in the UK; I cannot get home; I cannot fulfill private or professional commitments. And it's costing me an arm and a leg to replace the passport, travel costs, and accommodation. I have been appalled by the lack of responsiveness, duty of care, and customer care by management at the Marriott. I'm concerned that even though this is a global brand, no-one from the Marriott is prepared to take any responsibility - or feel any responsibility for even a gesture about the predicament that I am in. What do you think the hotel should have done? What precautions do we have to take to protect ourselves, our belongings, and those of our course participants? Should we refuse to provide our own computers? Who should give the warning about no liability for personal belongings to the participants?

3 Responses

  1. Theft in Hotel Training Room
    Hello Clare,
    I feel your pain and frustration here, I had exactly the same situation in a Mariott in York several years ago when a training room was raided during a break. On this occasion the room had been entered via a patio window. I insisted on a police presence, and examination of CCTV images. The effect on the training which was for a group from the NHS who had no option to attend was devastating, people were crying, angry, and frustrated. What was of concern was that the hotel staff had to be pressurised into locking the door every time we went for breaks after the incident and were most reluctant to do so. Hope this stressful time passess quickly.


  2. personal responsibility?
    Whilst I have every sympathy with anyone who has had kit or possessions stolen, there has to be an element of personal responsibility;
    Whenever I take a break in an hotel training room I always ask delegates NOT to leave valuables in the room, even if I’m intending to stay in the room myself preparing for the next session.
    Yes, I DO leave my laptop in the room (switched on, plugged in and presenting) but the laptop is a bit more difficult to conceal under a shirt or in a pocket than a bank card or a passport. Besides which, as a business tool, I’d expect my insurer to cover it; my wallet is my problem. We trainers (and our delegates) are adults; we should be adult enough to recognise, and manage, risk. Would you leave your passport and bank cards on the dashboard of your unlocked car? I can live without my laptop if it is stolen, if I was visiting another country I COULDN’t live without my passport.

    The hotel (what difference is there if it is a global chain or a small independent?) cannot be expected to take responsibiity for the behaviour of the enormous range of delegates or guests who may be in the hotel at any one time.

    We should all, in the light of this terrible situation remind ourselves that we CAN be the victims of criminals
    (especially as times get harder and five star hotels full of “lucky” people with jobs are seen as legitimate targets)

    My sympathy goes out to you but I’m not of the opinion that the hotel has any more responsibility than the victim in this instance.

    Rus Slater

  3. Wise after the event
    The reason I am raising the issue is for us all to raise our awareness. In this instance all of us left our bags in the room – which was adjacent to the coffee area. Seriously – it’s easy to be wise after the event. In this instance everyone left their bag – even those who later said that they are usually paranoid about safety. The set up seemed safe and secure. Obviously we were all lulled into a false sense of security.

    I always ask for the room to be locked at lunchtime – or if a coffee lounge is away from the training room. The particular layout here meant that though it “felt” safe, there was actually another way through to the door of the training room that obviously was a blindspot to us. And there weren’t any ctv cameras on this particular “blindspot”.

    There were three potential “in charge” people in this particular scenario:
    1. myself as the trainer
    2. the hotel conference manager
    3. the training company representative

    All three of us were present the first morning. Nobody pointed out to me any special security requirements. Nobody said anything to the delegates. It appears that the hotel conference manager had pointed out to the training company representative that the training room wouldn’t lock because it was a fire door; but neither told me that. In fact, the desk didn’t tell me when I asked for the room to be locked at lunchtime. (This is not relevant to the theft, as it occurred between 10.45 and 10.55, but does show a lack of communication or awareness about safety). No member of staff was posted into or outside the room when I returned from lunch.

    Yes – in future I will be asking all hotels about their security procedures for belongings in training rooms.

    But I still believe there was a responsibility/communication gap in this incident that needs to be addressed. And which we need to factor into our professional practice.

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