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Press releases

WATCHDOG STATEMENT

26th Sep 2012


To safeguard the welfare and safety of our customers and staff, we operate a zero tolerance policy against anyone smoking in our hotels. Travelodge’s terms and conditions clearly state that smoking in our hotels, and tampering with fire detecting equipment (which includes smoke detectors in rooms), is prohibited.

As a business we have a continuing responsibility to ensure that smoking does not occur on our premises. If we fail in this duty, both the customer caught smoking and Travelodge may be committing an offence.

All customers are made aware of Travelodge’s terms and conditions every time they make a reservation and their booking is only authorised once they have read and confirmed their agreement to those terms and conditions.

When a customer smokes in a room and /or tampers with fire detecting equipment, they are breaking the law, acting in breach of Travelodge’s terms and conditions and they are not only putting their own lives in danger, but also endangering other customers and staff.

In addition, they are jeopardising the quality of stay for other customers. After someone has smoked in a room, that room is unavailable for up to three days whilst we undertake a comprehensive deep clean and airing procedure. This is to ensure that the anti-social actions of a minority of our customers does not affect the level of service provided to our other customers, the majority of whom would not wish to spend the night in a room which even slightly smells of smoke and who would not dream of spoiling our premises and ruining the enjoyment of others in this way.

If this happens when the hotel is full and another customer is booked to stay in that room, then that customer has to be transferred to another hotel. This not only inconveniences the customer but also creates a domino effect on our booking system which can affect many customer bookings.

Travelodge takes its responsibilities to ensure that all persons on its premises remain safe very seriously and will take whatever action is necessary to ensure that those whom put the lives of others at risk are held to account.

To ensure Travelodge’s non-smoking policy is correctly embedded into the company’s operating infrastructure, all hotel staff are trained as part of their health and safety training programme to be able to identify when an individual has smoked within the hotel premises.

Only when a hotel member of staff is confident that a customer has breached Travelodge’s terms and conditions by smoking in a room will action be taken. This is based on the evidence available to that member of staff, who must also have obtained the second opinion of a colleague.

The company procedure for recording a smoking offence requires the staff member to record all of the details onto a specific reporting system. This information is then sent to an independent Company (CRS) to objectively negotiate the case on behalf of the customer and Travelodge.

Unfortunately our staff are regularly on the receiving end of abusive and aggressive behaviour when confronting customers in person. For us, this is unacceptable. Therefore to safeguard our staff, we have taken the decision that CRS is better placed to take matters forward.

CRS is a UK based specialist civil recovery provider which also raises similar claims for other hoteliers in the same capacity as it does for Travelodge.
Based upon the report that has been produced by our staff, CRS will contact the customer in order to investigate the claim. Once CRS has received a response from the customer, if they think that the customer has not been smoking then the case is immediately dropped. In all other cases CRS will liaise with our staff in order to seek any further evidence that they can present back to the customer. If, on reviewing the claim, both CRS and ourselves reasonably believe that smoking has occurred then CRS will work to recover the cost attributed to this.

Our zero tolerance approach to smoking in our hotels also applies to our employees. If a member of staff is found to be smoking anywhere within the Travelodge building or in a non designated outdoor area they will be subject to disciplinary action, which could lead to dismissal.

To ensure we offer our customers the highest level of service through all aspects of our business, we constantly review our processes and this includes our smoking policy and procedures. In regards to this, earlier this year, we used feedback from our customers to improve our processes to ensure our approach was as customer friendly as possible.

Martin Dockrell, Director of Policy and Research from Action on Smoking & Heath (ASH) said in support of Travelodge’s smoking policy

“The law sets out the minimum a company must do to protect its staff and customers from second hand smoke. It also sets out some exemptions which a hotel can use at its discretion. There is nothing to stop a company giving greater protection and no obligation to adopt the exemptions. The law applies to public places but people are increasingly applying similar rules in their own homes.

An annual survey of 12,000 adults commissioned by ASH finds 83% of adults and 50% of smokers - live in homes where you are not allowed to smoke inside. Travelodge is offering the same standard in their hotels that most of us would demand in our homes and offering hotel staff the same protection as they would be entitled to if they worked in a shop, bar or factory.”

Customer Case Studies:

Each of the three customers featured in your case studies made their reservations via our online booking system. In doing so, they each confirmed that they had read and agreed to Travelodge’s terms and conditions.

We and CRS believed that there was strong evidence that either smoking had taken place, or that tampering had occurred to the fire detecting equipment, in the rooms occupied by these three customers during their stay.

Every customer has the right to dispute the proposed claim and when this happens, Travelodge and CRS will always review the facts on a case-by-case basis.

Mr Pugh’s case was reviewed and upon further investigation by Travelodge, the decision was made not to pursue the matter and a letter of apology plus an e-voucher to cover the cost of his stay was sent to him.

Mrs Fryer who stayed in the room with her daughter emailed us on the 21st March 2012 and said in support of her case that she was happy for us to contact her GP who could provide evidence that she and her daughter were not smokers. We took Mrs Fryer up on her offer and asked her to forward her GP’s details and we are waiting for this information to come through. It would be inappropriate to comment further on this case, but neither Travelodge nor CRS have taken further action against Mrs Fryer pending receipt of this information.

Miss Guinan rang CRS on the 3rd May 2012 and stated she had booked six rooms but she was going to find it difficult to pinpoint the relevant people who stayed in each room. However she advised she was aware of her liability and she was going to contact Travelodge to find out the names of the people who stayed in the six rooms. To date Travelodge has not heard from Miss Guinan but on the 11th May 2012, Miss Guinan contacted CRS and made a payment of £300 for both cases.

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