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The Hidden Benefits of Tasting Events

Hotel Mogel Consulting Limited ·15 February 2019
For the two dozen participants, it was a chance to get close and personal with the wine. Here, we were guided through the nuances of several wines of the same grape variety, allowing us to understand the nuances created by the vintage and cellaring processes as well as furthering our knowledge and appreciation of this omnipotent elixir.After all, learning is a lifelong process and should not be restricted to a classroom setting, unless that classroom setting involves a healthy amount of libations. For reference, the varietal in question was pinot gris which happens to be somewhat of an oddity in the world of viticulture because it is a mutant strain of pinot noir and thus not exactly a red or white. This grape's peculiarity was then played out through a hybrid of a vertical tasting (same varietal, same cellaring technique, different vintage) and a horizontal tasting (same vintage, different winemaking process), with the end result being a thorough positive sentiment from the attendees. Admittedly, though, a few thought it could have involved less talk and more wine!These sorts of education-focused wine tastings are not anything new, but they are not used enough in my humble opinion. While this particular form of pinot gris hybrid tasting may be out of reach, the crux of these events are definitely worth pursuing. Here are two other examples that I've experienced to help get you thinking of all the possibilities.First up, the Boston Harbor Hotel eschews lectures for an extensive series of viticulturally themed dinners in their acclaimed Meritage Restaurant. The property's approach reflects a close relationship with their Executive Chef, Daniel Bruce, and some of the finest vineyards throughout the country. Here, the focus is as much on the showcased wines as it is the accompanying food menu designed to express a perfect complement. This year's program consisted of well over a dozen separate mid-week, offseason events, all of which were well-attended and very highly received by guests.Next, I also quite vividly recall a wine tasting we attended at the Four Seasons Grisham Palace in Budapest about a decade ago. Recommended by the concierge, and with nothing else planned, it seemed to be a great opportunity to sample the local produce. One problem, though, was that the entire tasting was conducted in Hungarian and, as the only English-speaking participants, we missed out on most of the educational aspects of the session. Thankfully, the pours were sizeable, the bottles were exceptional and, in the end, I was grateful that I only had to find my way to the elevator!In all three of these cases - as well as numerous others that you can probably recall from your own experiences - the goal is less about profits and more about establishing a relationship between the property and the local community. With wine now produced in all 50 states and growing in per capita consumption, local vineyards must seek direct relationships with the consumer as a means of differentiating themselves within this increasingly competitive environment.The result is a fertile opportunity for you, as the hotelier 'middleman', to establish a partnership or two with regional growers with the incentive being that you can provide these winemakers with more exclusive access to your clientele. Depending upon your location and any alcohol promotion laws therein proscribed, you may already have the chance to work with a wholesaler who can initiate these conversations for you.Apart from providing the wine for the event at no or little cost (depending upon local regulations), the quid pro quo approach would see you take some or all the sampled products onto your wine list, or provide some sort of comps to the vendors during the event. Accordingly, you should plan your wine sampling program carefully, looking to incorporate the appropriate purchases in a diligent and pervasive manner.Overall, as properties continue to seek means of differentiating themselves, wine tasting events can provide an outstanding opportunity for both community involvement and strategic enhancement of your product offering. While these events may not show an immediate return on investment at the outset, they can pay off tremendously insofar as working to help with your unique branding and guest satisfaction.

In Search of Hotel Excellence: Hotel Lugano Dante

Hotel Mogel Consulting Limited ·14 February 2019
Upon visiting for a day, Carlo Fontana, one of the owners of the Hotel Lugano Dante, was determined to make my wife and I, like all other guests, feel both comfortable and welcome. As he remarks, "The Swiss are the ultimate hoteliers; it's in our DNA!" Through such renowned institutions as the Lausanne Hotel School (EHL), this reputation is all-but-globally accepted. But theory and practice are often divergent. Thus, it was my mission to check out this humble, 85-room, four-star property.Hotel Lugano Dante is four steps from the funicular access to the train station. Once inside, the lobby is traditional and spotlessly clean. At reception, the greeting is both personalized as well as informative. Using pre-arrival questionnaire technology, the hotel has obtained all the necessary information to improve your stay.First, your bags are taken to your room and you're told there is no need to tip the bell staff, as they are well paid for their work. Second, you are provided with a map of the town. Noting my wife's interest in shopping, they had already circled a few outlets that were having sales that day as well as identifying a location for a weekly flea market. They had also prepared two passes that would allow us to travel on all public transit free for the duration of our trip.To create interest in the lobby, a small 3D printer was producing small 'rubber' duck sculptures in a variety of substrates. A three Swiss franc donation got you a sample. Having never seen one of these in operation, it was fascinating to watch.The old-fashioned key on an oversized heavy chain and fob was a throwback, compared to current VingCard or equivalent. When asked about this feature, Carlo responded, "The key is a symbol. It is not just a piece of plastic that the guest throws away or forgets somewhere, but a recognition of the care and 'old world' quality of our property."As you would expect by now, the room was antiseptically-clean. While renovated just over a year ago, it was hard to tell that it was even used once. Interestingly, the selection of broadcast channels was extensive with offerings in ten languages. As another throwback, a yellow plastic duck with a note asked us to take him (or her) home to remember our stay - an excellent reprise of the duck printer in the lobby.At night, pillowtop sound levels measured at 34 dB - very close to what we would consider absolute silence. Adding to that, there was a pillow concierge service to supplement a very spacious bed.The next morning, complimentary breakfast was offered from 6am onwards, which was refreshing as it gave us enough time to eat and still catch an early bus to Malpensa Airport. As a final touch, when we handed back our key, we were given a clear plastic bag holding a dozen Swiss cookies. We were told that with our early departure, the chef was concerned that we might have been rushed at breakfast.Most hoteliers could learn a lot from a stay at the Hotel Lugano Dante. Its commitment to the guest is both memorable and tailored to what's needed, all through traditional methodologies that can be replicated by any property. Oftentimes, sweeping changes aren't necessary to bring a hotel up to speed but a commitment to refining service delivery through the mastery of all the little things that make a stay complete.

Merchandizing Romantic Getaways

Hotel Mogel Consulting Limited · 8 February 2019
As we slide into February, the traditional low occupancy winter blues for hotels (outside of the sun destinations) is punctured by the healthy returns netted from Valentine's Day couples' getaways. While standard articles might focus on ways to drum up last minute purchases through packaging and promotional efforts, the next step is to ask yourself: how to capture more incremental revenue before guests arrive?The concept here is to maximize the profits from each customer so that this romantic time of year becomes a truly fantastic cash grab. And a great way to achieve this goal is to properly display and merchandize all of your amenities and onsite offerings.Essentially, any form of ancillary revenue like this falls under the broader banner of personalization, for which a landmark study in February 2017 from Think by Google found that 62 percent of consumers are more likely to choose, recommend and spend more on brands that deliver these personalized shopping experiences.Luckily, in the hospitality space there are a handful of digital platforms that can give incoming guests a seamless portal by which to view and buy individual rooms or suites as well as give access to dining, spa, retail, entertainment, activities and so on.RevPAR Versus RevPAGCentral to this discussion is to first understand the difference between RevPAR (revenue per available room) and RevPAG (revenue per guest). The former is often the standard metric for a hotel's growth and overall success, particularly from the management company's perspective. However, by analyzing your sales through the latter number, you can better determine what types of guests are producing the greatest profit margins.A simple comparison to illustrate this point is by looking at a resort destination that deals with both business groups as well as free independent travelers looking for a respite. So, you have a better picture in your mind, suppose this asset is beachside, has multiple restaurants that all stay afloat purely due to beverage sales, bookable onsite activities at an extra cost and a high-end spa.Any prudent hotelier automatically knows that both cohorts are essential to a property's success, especially for midweek occupancy. But at its significantly lower room rate negotiated as part of massive room block contract combined with the fact that corporate guests are locked in meetings or conferences all day and thus less likely to use the full spectrum of amenities, it doesn't take an accounting ledger to realize that those FITs are a comparative monetary boon.The issue then is, of course, how to make such a resort, or any property for that matter, such an attractive and well-regarded place that it doesn't need to offer any special discounts on room blocks in order to meet its monthly budgets.Prearrival PromptsAs a solution to this, it all comes back to giving all your guests the right prompts about additional purchases to augment their hotel experiences prior to arrival.Once your travelers have arrived on property, they've already made up their minds about what they intend to do each day, and it is much harder to convince them to spend on the spot, especially for business guests who are laser-focused on their meetings and only likely to splurge on some F&B after a hard day's work. True, there are always some whimsical buyers, particularly in the leisure cohort, but why leave it to the last minute?By informing customers well in advance of arrival of all the options available to them, you are giving them the opportunity to passively browse through the full selection of choices with no time pressure or other more immediate tasks to distract them, and all from the comfort of their own homes. Moreover, because such prearrival prompts nowadays will almost always come via neatly designed webpages, this affords you more space to effectively convey the full value of each additional offering.Lastly, in terms of the prearrival window from reservation to check-in, consider this study by Statista which found that nearly half of travelers from the United Kingdom in recent years booked their trips two months or more in advance. Such a lengthy period affords any hotel enough time to properly reach out to travelers and present a good case for spending more to get a better onsite experience.What to MerchandizeKnowing that there's a profound financial gap must then be followed by an examination of what exactly a property can promote to incoming guests in order to drive revenues. In short: everything!As hotel rooms are a quintessential example of perishable inventory, it stands that if you have one standard room and one suite both empty on any given night, you're losing more money on the latter. So, the easiest way to test out a prearrival system is to try to upsell guests on your suites product.Moreover, similar to how airlines let you select individual seats, new platforms are emerging that enable this functionality for hotel rooms. Harking back to the Valentine's theme of this article, how romantic do you think it is to enter the room assigned to you and your hubby only to realize that you have a stunning, front row view of the HVAC system on the conference center roof?Kind of a buzzkill, no? Such in-the-moment issues and any negative fallout that percolates onto TripAdvisor can be avoided, however, by giving more context to each guestroom's specific features including fireplaces, sofa orientations, positioning relative to the elevator and, of course, the views. Then it's a matter of giving your customers a system by which to make an informed decision on any individual room selections or even room upgrades - all for an incremental charge, if you so desire.Within this same example, not only could this couple dodge the 'captivating' HVAC view but they could also choose one of your superior rooms that happens to have an oversized, aerated tub to help make their getaway even more extraordinary. Customers are chomping at the bit for these sorts of preference selections. Thankfully this 'attribution selling' functionality is now no longer hypothetical either, with third-party room selection and visual merchandizing software providers like Koridor boasting that just over 50% of users on the platform select their specific rooms while over 10% of them opt to upgrade.Beyond this, the axiomatic adage of 'seeing is believing' applies whereby any additional purchase is made all the more enticing by imagery, videos and other forms of heightened interactivity. For instance, a hotel might send out a special link to Valentine's package buyers that displays in-room romantic offerings available upon arrival such as a bottle of chilled sparkling white wine, a tray of assorted truffles or what the room would look like if it was festooned with flowers.Now broaden the context to a 365-day calendar where you can merchandize not only in-room comforts but also special spa treatments, seasonal food specials, activities or events. Ultimately, what you see is that the base room rate becomes merely a starting point for the customer purchase pathway, and that any further sales prompts are actually a fantastic way to deepen the rapport with guests, even if nothing is in fact bought during that interaction.How to MerchandizeIt's one thing to list off some examples of in-room amenities that can be hypothetically sold during the prearrival period; it's a whole other to build a system that can load dynamic visuals into a live online platform for guests to peruse.The first step is to thoroughly reevaluate your booking engine and any bolt-on skins or platforms on the market. I can guarantee that there are features you aren't familiar with or utilizing to their optimal capacity that can help to better display any incremental offerings. Reiterating the above point, the key here is to deploy visuals. For the romance example, no matter how great my wordsmithing is in describing a pastry chef's delicious truffles, a well-lit image will always be better. And better still will be those same truffles rendered in the exact spot where they will be physically placed in the room if the guest decides to buy them.While such heightened interactivity does involve a fair share of psychological compulsion towards incremental revenues at the prearrival stage, it may soon become an essential tool for building excitement to then ensure higher satisfaction scores after guests leave. In this sense, the onsite and prearrival experiences, as well as the memorability of the experience post-checkout, can have a synergistic relationship. If you see the value for Valentine's Day and the rest of the calendar year, let's chat to see what and how to best merchandize all of your hotel.

In Search of Hotel Excellence: Hotel Hayden NYC

Hotel Mogel Consulting Limited · 7 February 2019
My latest sojourn into the city found me at the newly launched Hotel Hayden (www.hotelhaydennyc.com), a 122-room property in the perennially hip Chelsea neighborhood that was first opened in 2012 as the Indigo Chelsea, the first ever hotel for this IHG brand in NYC. Categorized as an upscale, lifestyle-driven boutique hotel, this independent has sought to draw prominent influences from the surrounding Chelsea as well as the nearby flower district, all under the direction of an streamlined team of approximately 20 employees and another 30 some odd contracted labor positions for F&B, housekeeping, the revenue team and housemen.During my time there, I sat down with the general manager, Mark Speranza, to discuss what makes his property special amongst so much competition as well as the transition process.Tell us about the previous branding. Why the change?As the first Indigo Hotel, the hotel had good success under the new and innovative brand. Fortuna Realty then open the Hotel Hugo very successfully and they saw the potential in branding a collection of independent hotels - Hotel Hugo, Hotel Henri, Hotel Hayden and the soon-to-come Hotel Hendricks. The independent business model is beneficial in many ways including the lack of franchise fees and the ability to operate a bespoke individual hotel. The costs of the conversion were 'significant' as the hotel is now at a higher tier than it was previously.How does this arrangement change your management approach?For most contracted or outsourced models, we still have a supervisor that is a Hotel Hayden employee, so communication is through each department head as in a traditional business model. Our outsourced revenue team is located just six blocks away, so we can still hold weekly face-to-face meetings with this partner. The F&B subcontractor has associates on property at all times so that relationship is also seamless as far as communication.Tell us about the facilities.There is one meeting room, Hendricks, that is 460 square feet and located on the hotel's lower level. F&B is all handled by Mykonos Blue Restaurant which offers Greek-themed cuisine and over 80 Greek wines. They operate a 40-seat restaurant for breakfast, lunch and dinner with some additional seating in front of the hotel's main entrance. Mykonos rooftop is opened for small plates and cocktails, and it has an incredible view of the surrounding Chelsea area and a direct sightline to the Freedom Tower. Mykonos Restaurant also handles room service and F&B requirements for in-house meetings.What's your groups strategy?We handle a variety of groups including contributions from the social, corporate and association segments. Businesses in the area are a combination of media players, hi-tech stalwarts and newcomers, as well as some domestic and international tourism to the Chelsea area. Local attractions include Madison Square Garden, the Javits Convention Center and the Fashion Institute of Technology. We aim to provide a small hotel experience that enhances our location and the services that we provide. We target groups from the companies of our individual travelers, through our relationship with Preferred, and via local key relationships and area knowledge.Do you have unique in-room features to differentiate the guestrooms?Yes! We have two brand new partnerships in place that will elevate the guest experience and differentiate our hotel group from others - Routier and Handy. Routier will provide Hotel Hayden with unparalleled AI operations and marketing solutions that allow us to engage seamlessly with our guests and without requiring them to download any apps or devices. The partnership will allow us to identify, measure and monitor all of our venue's performance levels in real-time and to offer instant promotions and communications. Handy is a smart-room automation amenity for a phone or device that offers hassle-free travel with 24/7 connectivity to hotel guest services anytime, anywhere including complimentary local and long-distance calls. Inclusion with Handy will allow us to create incentive programs that improve performance, optimize hotel operations and ensure that our venues are maintaining brand integrity.Do you have any other special programs and partnerships?Hayden is located in a bustling area competing with big brand hotels that offer definite strengths and weaknesses. As the independent hotel outlier, we will leverage and relish this status, promoting the benefits of being boutique in size and in style. This will include reciprocal partnerships with area organizations such as FIT, The Highline, local art galleries and Chelsea Markets. Whether we are styling our suites, joining an area fundraising initiative or providing our guests with bespoke products and services, we are true to our location and to bringing the Chelsea experience into all facets of the hotel.

Acknowledging the Social Origins of the Fitness Center

Hotel Mogel Consulting Limited · 5 February 2019
With the millennial generation leading the charge in striving to be the most exercise-obsessed demographic to date, it would seem as though a fitness center is primed to become a major selling feature for hotels beyond the cursory amenity addition that it is often inscribed for most properties built during the 20th century.There is one aspect of the fitness center to keep in mind for any new build or future renovation, and please excuse the history lesson!The gymnasium has its origins all the way back to Ancient Greece (where the word originates). When you think about the earliest form of the gym, though, your mind probably rushes to images of tanned and oiled Olympians flexing and grunting amidst the rugged, arid hilltops of the Peloponnese. But in actuality, these gymnasiums were about 5% perspiration and 95% socialization.The notion that the ancient fitness center was more of a gathering spot than for real exercise first coalesced during my last trip to Rome when I finally had a chance to visit the Baths of Caracalla. An impressive site comprising the same floor pad as a modern football stadium, this structure housed multiple bathing rooms (hot, cold, lukewarm), spaces for light wrestling, transition or changerooms throughout and even a library. Mind you, back in the day this entire complex was only open to men (progress!), but the general idea was that each hall had one primary function while all were in service of keeping the conversation flowing.While I applaud all the new tech-borne in-room advancements and even some of the latest projects to bring in-room fitness to the harried business traveler - such as Hilton's Five Feet to Fitness - lest we forget that fitness has always been a social activity. After all, we are social animals, and it's the 'fitness center', not the 'fitness alcove' or 'fitness closet'.Exercise for some will forever be a solo, introspective affair. These are the people who will don ballcaps to the gym, keeping their headphones on with music blaring and averting their gaze from making any semblance of eye contact. Further, these individuals will benefit immensely from the latest and greatest guestroom exercise programs that are being rolled out across numerous brands.However, for others, the fitness or wellness center represents not only a place for bodily improvement but also one for meeting new people and positive interactions. Too often I still see hotel gyms that do not encourage socialization; they are dimly lit rooms tucked away from the main property thoroughfares and poorly staffed. Let's change that, as the fitness center, when imbued with more features to spur conversation, can thereby serve to greatly enhance guest satisfaction and brand loyalty by acting as yet another 'third space'.And this doesn't necessary imply hundreds of thousands of dollars in CapEx. Consider adding group classes or hiring an onsite physiotherapist who is comfortable with reaching out to guests on his/her own. A juice bar or any other point where social lubricants are sold will also work well. Next, train your team to approach avid gym goers to spark a conversation that goes beyond relaying basic information like hours of operation or about the towel service.Lastly, technology can help here too, either through apps that highlight onsite wellness events or even wayfinding software with geofencing functionalities so guests know exactly where the gym is. There are plenty of options that you can investigate that do not require any physical improvements and often come as part of another software upgrade that you are going to have make anyway.Of course, what works for you may not apply for everyone else, so drop me an email so we can discuss further. As wellness is reaching a critical mass, now is definitely the time to start looking at what you can do to meet this growing demand.

Continuing Professional Development For Housekeepers

Hotel Mogel Consulting Limited · 1 February 2019
While new legislation is emerging from all corners of the world to better safeguard workers, and more specifically housekeepers, from harm and thereby generate new applicants for these roles. Two prominent examples are the widespread mandate for employee safety devices, often called the panic button, as well as the new musculoskeletal injury prevention regulations in California.I see these trends as part of a bigger issue, though. Namely, we aren't doing enough to make this particular line of work rewarding over a long stretch of time. Housekeeping can be grueling, monotonous and often demoralizing after years of cleaning the same rooms shift after shift. Without widespread changes, this department will continue to suffer from high turnover rates, unnecessary onboarding costs and the establishment of new government enforcements, like those previously mentioned, which attempt to address the fundamental problems from another angle.If we are to truly mitigate our staffing issues then housekeepers must now be given the chance to benefit from continuing professional development (CPD) programs that are encouraged in other departments. It's a simple matter of making sure that they know we value their contributions and that there is a structured approach to upward mobility within the organization.For this, I would stress that, in addition to its direct advantages for CPD purposes, training is also a valuable motivation tool to keep current teams largely intact. If it is deployed as a means to both strengthen current teams and to encourage others to join the labor pool, then there is a tremendous potential for long-term cost savings.Training itself can be quite the undertaking in terms of managers' and supervisors' time as well as any fixed costs for setting up these initiatives, all of which is extremely difficult to justify in the first place because there often isn't a lot of directly quantifiable ROI for CPD programs that function below the executive level. Luckily, modern technology and automation are here to help rein in training costs.Online curriculums that offer a full compendium of training videos, like Lobster Ink (www.lobsterink.com), are a great start to help offload most of the initial resources involved in new worker onboarding - costs that can be especially frustrating for hoteliers when associates leave while still in this budding phase of their employment.Mobile apps also now exist so that trainees can learn in bite-sized chunks for better absorption of information. Such 'microtraining' apps that deliver contextual instructions based upon where and when a hotel employee is are now available, such as SingleStep (www.singlestep.com) that is also widely integrated with numerous other tech vendors to the industry.As of yet, though, most of these one-to-many programs fail to integrate proper feedback loops and a useful degree of interactivity that in-person training provides. To ameliorate this grave concern, there are more hands-on solutions like Novility (www.novility.com), a Netherlands-based company focused on hospitality training and ergonomics, which uses motion-tracking technology to offer room attendants on-the-spot feedback to thereby give hotels end-to-end accountability without the need for direct supervisor involvement.If you're wondering what training solution is right for your specific hotel, then reach out to me directly and we'll chat. Rest assured that this is no small undertaking! Instituting a proper CPD program that motivates frontline workers, reduces turnover and saves costs in the long run requires an engaged project leader and compliance from all managers and supervisors involved.Ultimately, by deploying some form of CPD at your property, we can work to change the perception of housekeeping so that it is no longer a line of work that only draws in candidates who desperately need employment. It should be one where people 'want' to commit long-term and ongoing training is a great first step towards this goal.
Article by Larry Mogelonsky

Addressing Gender Inequality in the Housekeeping Department

Hotel Mogel Consulting Limited ·31 January 2019
A topic I am hearing incessantly from numerous hoteliers at present is that they are having significant staffing problems, particularly amongst their room attendants. Such woes are causing serious headaches due to the rampant turnover, inability to find suitable replacements and huge costs associated with this entire process. This should never be the case, and so I'd like to present a possible solution.To start, I should mention that this is a touchy subject to broach as most of the current cultural dialogue is about ending the millennia-old gender bias against women in the workforce. While increasing gender equality in hotel management will prove to be incredibly efficacious for promoting more entrepreneurship and better business practices for the hotels of tomorrow, the housekeeping department at present may have the opposite problem.In a North American and Western European context - unlike other parts of the world where it is often the reverse situation - the housekeeping department at the typical hotel is comprised of mostly women. In a labor-deficient market, by helping make this line of work more appealing to men, it will in theory double the available labor pool to thereby help solve some of these staffing issues. The question then is: how do you accomplish this?Converting Public Area CleanersWhen we look at other countries - for instance, India - gender inequalities exist within the housekeeping department but are the other way around with men dominating the field. Is this only a matter of cultural influences? I would not be inclined to believe this because, if you look at public area cleaning teams in North America - a very similar line of work to housekeeping - there is a far better balance of genders, even though it is hardly an equal ratio in most workplaces.So, maybe a preliminary solution is to promote housekeeping amongst the ranks of public area staffers, both those already working within your organization and through partnerships with temp or outsourcing agencies. The key here is proper training so that such potential converts can realize that being a room attendant is not as intimidating a transition as once thought.Such training and, hopefully, the new workers that result from these efforts will actively help to prevent short-staffed periods and divert shifts away from those already in overtime. Moreover, by tapping into the network of public area cleaning, you are opening the labor pool up to custodians of many other industries, albeit the training required to adapt to the rigorous SOPs of housekeeping would render this to be a rather lengthy conversion.The retraining and transition of public area cleaners is but a part of the real solution - one that will require a concerted push from multiple angles to change the overall perception of housekeeping to a more attractive line of work. We must look to what other internal factors can be altered to make associates in this department feel more rewarded and respected for their contributions as well as what can be done to alleviate the often-grueling conditions that room attendants currently endure.Concerted EffortFixing the staffing problem ultimately requires a systemic push to help make the room attendant's line of work more appealing. Initiatives must be put in place to make these workers feel as though their contributions to the property are valued. Next, some form of continuing professional development (CPD) program should be considered so that housekeepers know there is a structured succession beyond cleaning rooms.As I see it, training and the retraining of public area cleaners is nonetheless a good start as it will help to reframe this department as a worthwhile career path to thereby bridge the gender gap that's currently endemic in housekeeping. However, much more must inevitably be done to mitigate the staffing problems in this department and for this ongoing education presents another viable option. For this, I have some ideas that may work, but they are specific to each property's unique situation, so please contact me directly and let's discuss.

All The President's Suites

Hotel Mogel Consulting Limited ·29 January 2019
To help gain some insights as to how a hotel can successfully manage these unique products, I journeyed down to the Boston Harbor Hotel where I was eager to meet with Stephen Johnston, the property's general manager, to discuss the new John Adams Presidential Suite.First visiting this exquisite Bostonian property when I was working for Preferred Hotels & Resorts Worldwide some two decades ago, I am proud to say that it hasn't skipped a beat. It remains a flawless example of an urban hotel that exceeds for any guest, whether he or she be traveling for leisure, business or as part of a group. So let's get underway!In a nutshell, what are the facts and figures on your new presidential suite?The John Adams Presidential Suite comprises some 3,800 square feet of indoor space plus a further 1,000 square feet of outdoor terrace space on the ninth floor of our property. The suite incorporates a living room, dining room, kitchen, media room and two bedrooms, with the option of adding a further two adjoining bedrooms. Amenities include a private elevator. The decor features a 20-foot glass-domed ceiling as a focal point with a suspended chandelier. And, as would be expected with our harbourfront location, we can provide mooring for yachts up to a 200-foot length.You can't just manufacture space like this, how did you find the room?There was a public space and part-time meeting room on the ninth floor, with this space immediately adjoining another large suite. We transferred the public area to a more accessible location on a lower floor. Thus, the presidential suite is actually an expansion of a prior suite.But why didn't you have a presidential suite before this?We did, and it is very attractive, but we have always known that we needed a product that was larger and more opulent than anything else that was available in New England. There is a competition amongst hotels for the best suite in the city. Presidential suites have to be both aspirational as well as practical. They need to have both wow factors as well as functionality. Our goal was a presidential suite that was not only the best Boston has to offer, but also a suite that would be comfortable for someone to stay in residence for several weeks at a time. In other words, it had to feel like a home-away-from-home. I think we've achieved this goal.The renovation process: how long and how much?The idea of a new presidential suite was bounced around for many years, but planning got underway in earnest about two years ago following the public space rezoning. The actual construction started in December 2017 and was completed in July 2018. In all, the project budget was about $5 million, which included peripheral room modifications and the addition of two keys carved out of the previous tenth floor airspace.In addition to the physical amenities, what are the unique service offerings?When booking the presidential suite, we have a discerning protocol that includes an extensive list of personalization elements such as beverage or alcohol requests and even the scent of the cosmetic package. The suite also gives guests the chance for an incredible in-room dining experience with the complete menu of our restaurants available as well as a butler service.What restrictions do you have for the suite's utilization?At this stage, we are just developing the detailed specifications. The suite has a very residential feel, so our focus is on travelers seeking ultra-luxurious accommodation. Given the costs involved in maintenance as well as opening and closing, we are not considering the suite for non-residential use at this time. Since there is no specific check-in or check-out time, the suite is blocked one day before and after each stay, which makes single day occupancies less desirable.What do you expect the capital payout to be?That's hard to say. We are not discounting the selling price of the suite, and our occupancy forecast is on the conservative side. However, we are forecasting that our net income will pay out capital in the next several years. But equally important, the creation of the John Adams Presidential Suite reinforces to our customers that we don't rest on our laurels but are seeking continual improvement.

Drawbacks to Outsourcing Your Hotel Labor Force

Hotel Mogel Consulting Limited ·24 January 2019
The growing prevalence of outsourced labor within the frontline ranks of many guest-facing departments may have deep-rooted consequences that aren't immediately discernable on a balance sheet. Whether your property is thinking of contracting out its valets, bellhops, restaurant servers, banqueting staff or housekeepers, what we stand to lose may be far greater than any apparent cost savings or reductions in employee benefit packages.While the two abovementioned advantages of outsourcing are indeed quite lucrative - and not to mention the overall decrease in risk involved with all forms of employee care - the primary drawback is that service is compromised, especially in the face of the modern trend for personalization.Ultimately, a hotel is dependent on its people. Before the dawn of integrated CRMs and omniscient PMSs, this meant that your frontline workers, in tandem with your senior team, had to have the wherewithal and the passion for the job to remember all the specific preferences of habitues and to go out of their way to properly satisfy each guest's requests. With all the data at our disposal nowadays, we seem to be forgetting this time-honored tradition of our industry.Guest-Staff Interactions Matter in the Information AgeYes, data can help you to personalize the guest experience and anticipate service requests, but such systems will never be fully capable of supplanting the emotionally charged, face-to-face encouragement one receives when dealing with a thoroughly knowledgeable and caring staff member.Because they are transient and because they are not solely devoted to your hotel, outsourced employees won't be able to deliver the same level of enthusiasm and exactness in any manner of tasks executed nor will they be able to master your specific SOPs because they may also be shuffled through a few other properties in the region.Add to this that outsourcing agencies have significantly higher rates of employee turnover, and it may be that a guest only encounters new faces every time he or she enters a public area. Not only does this dilute the customer's personal connection to the hotel brand and thereby decreases loyalty, but it also poses a slight security risk as you won't know who all these fresh-faced staffers are nor will they be able to recognize suspicious visitors.I find this trend to be particularly concerning as service is one of the core components of all great hotel experiences. When we let it slide, all key monetary performance indicators will suffer over the long run.All the Best Properties Value Long-Serving EmployeesIndeed, all the best properties in the world - the ones we all dream of staying or working at - are ones where the staff are veterans of all the inner workings of that hotel as well as the local area.As we are all emotional beings, it only takes one convivial and insightful conversation with an attentive server or butler for a guest to overlook a property's perceived deficiencies and give a five-star rating each and every time. It only takes one benevolent action from a seasoned supervisor who knows how to thoroughly coordinate an effective response in order to nullify any service error. It only takes the conversant fervor of a front desk clerk to motivate a guest to upgrade to a suite or to try out one of your amenities instead of wandering offsite.Only by knowing a property inside out - which takes lots of time and onsite experience - can a team member truly deliver an outstanding guest experience or feel empowered to go that extra mile and overdeliver on a specific service request. Knowing one's hotel and all manner of specific responses doesn't happen overnight; it requires mastery of one's line of work, which isn't possible via outsourcing.Effective Service is Built on TeamsWhen you contract out labor, the team dynamic fails to develop with trust within and between departments. As social animals, we need to develop some sense of regular contact with those in our 'tribe' in order to be at our most productive and for our morale not to dip.To attain a level of autonomous execution of tasks and to thereby respond in a timely manner to service requests, teams must growth together. You must foster a great corporate culture and support all staff members with internal programs that benefit their wellbeing to instill a strong sense of camaraderie.If on the other hand you have fostered a culture of frequent turnover via outsourcing, any training investments will naturally have a lower return. This is in contrast with the contemporary and comprehensive in-house training teams at select properties whereby valuing each employee reduces turnover and in turn the sunk costs of onboarding and mentoring. In other words, training has a significant hidden expense associated with it, but this is easily recouped over the long run.So, if you have made the move to contract out a certain department, please consider the above downsides. They are subtle and won't be immediately reflected on a P&L, but they will inevitably cost you by eroding guest satisfaction and reducing the number of return visits, social media shares or word-of-mouth recommendations.In a travel landscape where loyalty is already waning by the minute because of the influences of the OTAs and alternate lodging providers, you cannot afford to give consumers any additional reason to not have a thoroughly memorable guest experience. You cannot afford to compromise service for outsourced labor as impeccable service will always be the core of an unforgettable hotel stay.

What Corked Wine Teaches You About Service Excellence

Hotel Mogel Consulting Limited ·17 January 2019
For all of my fellow oenophiles out there, it's one of the worst feelings in the world. You pop open a bottle, pour yourself a glass, take a sip and your mouth is hit by a musty, astringent splash that eviscerates any lingering flavors. The wine is skunked and utterly worthless.This lesson all comes down to one of the hallmarks of a service culture in that it's not just about how well you provide for your guests but also how well you recover from any errors or experiential gaps, with the term of 'double deviations' epitomizing this concept. This requires some explanation, but the lesson here about skunked wine can be adapted for any other hotel operation or trainable aspect.The biggest worry about a bottle going stale is that you never can tell until it's opened. Of course, you can make assumptions based on the winery, varietal and vintage, but it's still always a question mark. A litmus test of sorts before you even let a guest take a sip is to sniff the wet end of the cork. The aroma will, as per the title, obviously have skunky elements, while other telltale signs of decay are any notes of wood, mold, manure, barnyard, hay potato skins or asparagus. If you have never encountered a corked bottle, you'll know it when you smell it!The taste will follow in stride and more strongly than the funky fragrance, but if the smell is palpably wrong, the last thing you want to then do is let a guest endure the displeasure of having even one drink. Right there, just with a simply whiff, is the chance for your servers to demonstrate their knowledge and deepen their rapport with customers. There are also other visual signs to note so that your team can best service their patrons by preventing them from tasting a skunked drop, including the liquor having a brownish, opaque color, a fizzy structure when it's not a sparkling wine or perhaps the cork is pushed out slightly from the neck.Regardless of when or how the rot is discovered, though, what matters most is what your server does next. The most basic form of follow-up is to go back to the cellar, put out another bottle of the same label and open it to see if it too is off. In all likelihood it'll taste just fine. However, you must keep in mind that by this point the table has been waiting for its drinks for an additional five to ten minutes, delaying the regular course of the collective meal experience and letting frustration set in to reduce overall meal satisfaction.A little something extra is needed to balance the books, even if the deterioration of flavors was in no way your restaurant's fault. The fact remains that guests will perceive this as a slight on your part and they are thus justified in their nonverbal desires for a gratis gift for their troubles. While I'm not suggesting you comp the entire purchase, a free dessert or an extra round at the end of the meal will go a long way to both positively surprising this customer set and building more advocacy for your restaurant than if everything had gone smoothly from the start.Let me know with you the two times this has happened to me at a restaurant. The first was at Gordon Ramsay Steakhouse in Paris Las Vegas where I ordered a bottle of Clos Vougeot 2009. The sommelier tasted it before me - the correct approach - and promptly rejected the bottle before bringing out a second bottle of the same wine which was perfect. The second was at the Le Champlain in the Fairmont Le Chateau Frontenac in Quebec City where I ordered a bottle of Fixin Premier Cru, an above average burgundy although the vintage escapes me. This time the sommelier poured the wine for me to taste, and when I remarked that it was terrible he too tasted it then concurred that it was off. Afraid to bring out another bottle of the same wine, he upgraded me to a grand cru of an even better year for no additional charge. Although the recovery incentive was better for the latter incident, what's remarkable is that, despite both incidents occurring years ago, the adept handling of events is still quite memorable.The key here is that whenever there is a fault, your recovery efforts must be speedy and forthright. And instead of leaving these types of situations up to the moment whereby a manager is forced to make a decision extemporaneously, you might go about setting up a protocol in advance for how to best compensate guests for their troubles.
Article by Larry Mogelonsky

Ten Questions to Ask Your Team for 2019

Hotel Mogel Consulting Limited ·14 January 2019
It's a lengthy, grueling process, but one that can be quite rewarding if you have a vision of where you want to take your hotel. The key for the upcoming year is to plan for a gradual and continuous change, and the first step towards this is to align with your team.As for the coming year, it is definitely not business as usual. There are disruptors lurking in the dark alleys of the travelsphere, and if you aren't careful you'll suffer from diminishing occupancies and withering group ROB.As one potential harbinger of doom that I'm constantly reminded of, the sharing economy has already prompted all hoteliers to re-evaluate their approach. If you think that you're immune from this wave, it's time to ask your executive committee to get with the program. In this vein, I've assembled a series of ten questions that should provoke some lively conversation as well as provide a better focus for the coming year.Who is the customer right now and who will the customer be five years from now?Setting aside RevPAR analysis, what are we planning to grow incremental revenue - to build RevPAG as they say (revenue per available guest)? In other words, can you express the revenue forecast on a total revenue basis rather than rooms-only?Can you examine the total revenue-per-room sold net of commissions for the business from OTAs, traditional TAs, direct leisure/FIT and groups? How has this data trended?Does it make sense for your hotel to continue using Google Adwords? Are you still buying your own hotel's name as a means of owning the lower funnel? If so, what is the return and would you get the business anyways?Why would anyone stay with you (answer separately for leisure, corporate and groups)? How does this compare versus your competitors?Are you giving your external agencies the ammunition they need to help deliver the best services they can? Have you asked them to demonstrate success stories from their other customers that you can learn from?How are you using your CRM to build loyalty and personalized offers that generate repeat visitation?Are you maximizing bleisure opportunities (hybrid travel)? How do you encourage group patrons to extend their stays?What are you doing to integrate yourselves with the community and generate goodwill amongst both local patrons as well as neighborhood associations?At the end of next year, what one single activity will you be able to confirm as mission accomplished?

From a Year on the Road

Hotel Mogel Consulting Limited · 8 January 2019
As 2018 draws to a close, I'm taking stock: a month in Japan, a wedding in Australia, three work trips to Europe, eight sojourns to the USA and half a dozen domestic journeys (within Canada). I don't think of myself as a road warrior but rather an enthusiastic traveler, with the former classification reserved for those who 'have to' and the latter for those that 'want to' travel.This year's travel gave me an opportunity to experience over 50 different hotels in what would typically be classified as part of the upscale, upper upscale or luxury levels. As these tiers see a fair amount of innovation, year-over-year site visits at this frequency have afforded me a unique perspective on the general trends in our industry. From this, I have drawn the following conclusions and opportunities.Hotel technology implementation lags behind market availability. There is still a wide gap between what we experience at aspirational tradeshows and what's in use in the guestroom or back-of-house. Conversations with GMs confirm this. The good news is that as technology improves implementation gets easier and costs go down.We forget how important HVAC is to guests' comfort. I vividly remember, and not positively, those properties that have outdated systems. Never underestimate how important proper air supply is to your customers. HVAC should be your first priority, because if you can't do this right - and heaven forbid a guest suffers from a sleepless night as a result - nothing else that you do will matter.We're still being stupid about WiFi and water! Charging for WiFi and bottled water is just plain dumb. Want to turn off the younger cohort of travelers in a heartbeat? Of note, it was only the North American hotels that attempted this charade. By and large, though, most WiFi networks lacked the bandwidth needed to conduct business at an efficient, except when accessed in the lobby. Given how often people are on their phones, internet connectivity almost now has an equal importance as basic necessities, so you must do your best to ensure that this service is seamless.Great strides are being made in F&B presentation and quality. We have finally overcome our fear of spending a dime or two on better meal ingredients and what I call presentation innovation. More work is needed, however, because F&B is a continuous arms race between your hotel and every other restaurant in your immediate area. Everyone is refining their menu's dishes or experiential offerings, and every guest is constantly on the lookout for the next big thing (by searching the web with sitting in the lobby utilizing your WiFi, of course).Casting technology is not yet mainstream. Got nothing to do in the evening? Don't waste time turning on the in-room television as there is nothing to view there anymore. Millennials would rather continue to binge-watch off their smartphones than go through the trouble of figuring out what channels you have for free. Few properties have embraced the ability to sync one's personal device so that individual Netflix or Amazon Prime preferences can be immediately transferred to the in-room television.Few hotels understand pre- and pos- stay communications. Before the trip, I'm interested in how to make my stay more productive and how to maximize the limited time I have for experiences. Tell me about offers, educate me about what packages or itineraries you have so I can explore the local area and let me know a little bit more about on-property dining. When I leave, I don't want to be encouraged multiple times to write a review of your property on TripAdvisor, but rather I want to be reminded of what made my time special and how my great experience can be continued.Housekeeping was all but flawless. Kudos here! I found very few housekeeping flaws across all the hotels we stayed in. My dear wife, who is a stickler for this, was particularly impressed.Hotels don't know how to handle two modestly-large suitcases. Most hotels can find a single fold-out rack, and even those that are typically supplied are not sufficient in size to hold an open Rimowa clamshell style suitcase. I don't doubt that there is a simple ergonomic answer for fixing this spatial issue.We're beginning to get the idea that hotels are for communities. Lobbies are starting to become places to meet other guests as well as mingle with locals. Less sterile, I experienced complimentary coffee service with a nonnegligible frequency along with frontline teams whose primary focus was making people feel like they were at home.We need to rethink the concierge position. We need to find a way to get the concierge out from behind their desks and podiums. They are out-of-sight for the harried traveler, and therefore out-of-mind - a missed opportunity to deepen rapport with guests. How can we turn these folks from being reactive to proactive? How do we get them to enhance guest success and perhaps build ancillary onsite revenue streams?The state of hotel quality continues to improve, but is it happening fast enough? Few hotels had serious deficits and most were showing signs of recent upgrades or newly implemented initiatives. This is encouraging overall. Our industry needs a continual infusion of capital to meet the ever-mercurial guest expectations.Thinking broadly, we're in a race for relevancy with the sharing economy. If the emergence of alternate lodging providers and the vast expense of travel options have done one thing for us, it's to make us wake up and realize that the old status quo is no longer acceptable.

What The 5-Star Promise Really Means

Hotel Mogel Consulting Limited · 4 January 2019
I've waited some two months to address this event because I wanted to allow enough to see what the actual fallout would be and how individual properties would respond. While actions have been taken to advance working conditions for frontline associates, it is a long and arduous road to implement the necessary safety and training protocols while still keeping a tab on the bottom line.Continuous Workplace ImprovementsThinking broadly, though, the 5-Star Promise should not come as a surprise to anyone with a good gauge of historical progress. Besides a few minor blips, workers' rights and workplace conditions have improved over the past few decades, and they will continue to do so with commitments from the major brands such as these. Concurrently, labor unions will continue their activities to generate awareness for potential hazards and problems in the hospitality industry, acting in many ways as shepherds for what steps to take next.Important for everyone to note is that times are changing and in the 21st century they are bound to change at an alarmingly rapid rate. To offer a relevant example, look at the recent banning on plastic straws across the world as a means to curb pollution in our oceans. Do you really believe that that will be the last piece of wasteful plastic to be prohibited? Plastic water bottles, plastic bags at grocery stores, plastic package wrappings and six pack rings may all soon be abolished. Along these lines, the recent panic button deployment will hardly be the last new employee safety device (ESD) that hotels adopt.Part of the contemporary shift involves recognizing the best working conditions for all team members, and then acting ahead of any government legislations. This is done because it has been thoroughly proven that a good workplace environment translates into better morale, increased productivity over the long-term, lower turnover rates (and thus inherent cost savings through reduced onboarding expenses) and heightened succession planning so that the cream of our youth is given the right nurturing to rise within our organizations.Although many would deem the hotel industry as a laggard in soft innovations and policy shifts of this sort, the 5-Star Promise demonstrates that we have perhaps turned a corner and that we are indeed not resting on our laurels.What The 5-Star Promise Means For Your HotelIt is a play made for the very near-term as well as the far long-term. For now, such efforts to encourage the health and safety of a hotel's employees will work to heighten morale and decrease the occurrence of potentially dangerous situations - this being both physical threats made to staff members as well as other hazards such as the improper handling of chemicals or the lack of ergonomic training which results in a repetitive strain injury.For the distant future, however, such noble and lasting efforts will cause all of hospitality to experience a reputation boost, thereby helping to attract more and better candidates to our line of work.My suggestion for you to take a big picture look at how you are helping to advance your corporate culture and advocate for all your team members, both frontline and managerial level. The world is changing and you need to change with it, lest your organization gain a toxic reputation and you aren't able to attract great young associates to fill your ranks.Comprehensive safety measures and ESD implementations are a good start. You will also want to look at what teambuilding exercises you have in place, what offsite activities are on the yearly calendar and, above all, what career planning or continuing professional development (CPD) programs you have set up to effectively keep team members engaged.Entrainement QuotidienNo matter what plans are devised at the executive level, hotel operations inevitably always boil down to the day-to-day life of the associate. Therefore, an aspect of all this that merits your constant attention is quotidian training for every staff member responsible for making the guest experience a reality.I stress that ongoing training, although requiring some resources to effectively setup, can act as a tremendous productivity booster over the long run because it reinforces team bonds, updated safety protocols and new standards to improve workplace conditions. If you are able to seize upon this paradigm shift by ensuring that your team is fully prepared, then you'll be ready for any new policies that are mandated by the brand, major chains or government authorities.Just as contemporary technologies like the Internet of Things (IoT) have helped to make ESDs a reality, other software and hardware can be deployed to automate daily training so that your hotel can attain its benefits without getting bogged down by the exhaustive costs that would otherwise be incurred by assigning dedicated personnel to this task.While there are few select technology-based training solutions that exist for all types of frontline staff, it's critical that you choose the one that's right for your specific conditions. With the contributing factors enough to justify a whole other article, please reach out to me personally so I can review your property's unique situation then offer a bespoke recommendation.

Five Small Steps to Motivate Staff

Hotel Mogel Consulting Limited ·26 December 2018
Before we address specific steps that will keep your team in jovial spirits, it's important to highlight two challenges that our industry is currently facing. First, staffing is becoming a foremost issue on hoteliers' minds with properties constantly looking for solutions to curb cost savings, reduce turnover and boost employee motivation. Next, our industry as a whole is confronting a bit of a 'brain drain' as top talent continued to be leeched by greater income prospects in STEM-related fields or by other reasons related to the staid perception that working at one of our organizations have acquired.In short, we need better tactics to prevent our stars from jumping ship without sizably inflating our wage structures, as well as to foster a healthy ground-up development of our associates so the knowledge of our current senior team is effectively passed down to the next generation of hoteliers.Rather than building your team through reams of documentation on proper succession planning or through a years-in-the-making mentorship program, what we are discussing here are the moment-to-moment activities you can engage in to motivate staff to perform at their best and to, at the very least, stick around long enough for your shimmering corporate culture to glean through.While these actions are all part of being an effective leader, often we forget about the minutia that can make a difference in our team's daily lives in favor of grand, broad theories with no practical applications. The better you treat your team, however, the better their performance and the healthy your revenues. With this in mind, here are some ideas to consider.1. Beyond employee of the month. While putting the spotlight on a standout associate 12 times a year is a tried-and-true technique to boost morale, it doesn't go far enough, particularly in an organization that has hundreds of employees working out of the same location. Highlighting individuals from each department companywide is a worth a thought, as are monthly informal mentorship talks with your star employees. For this latter initiative, it's not just about praising those who go above and beyond what the job calls for; it's about saying to them, "You've done great. Now where do you want to go with your career?" and actively helping them reach their desired outcome.2. Spend a day on the frontline. Specifically, it's most critical for senior managers to experience what frontline staffers go through in other operations that they are not familiar with. For example, a rooms director may already be intimately acquainted with the backbreaking work carried out by the property's room attendants but not so much for the signature restaurant's servers and line cooks.3. Cross-departmental activities. It's important to build bridges across departmental lines not only so those individuals feel more like part of a family, but also so that each employee understands how dynamic a workplace a hotel really is. Oftentimes boredom can set in from performing repetitive tasks, but if every associate knows that there are other opportunities for continued learning available to them, it will greatly reduce job turnover, especially if there's a lateral placement program already setup.4. Staff prizes. Think coupons or gift cards for good online reviews. Perhaps you open up the budget a bit to allow for a catered lunch after the team surpasses a milestone or overcomes a tough challenge. Compensation aside from some heartfelt thanks can go a long way to making your associates feel valued because it gives each of them a memento of their hard work, not to mention the effective teambuilding that occurs when the reward is group-based.5. Community bulletin board. A culture without constant internal communication is doomed to fail because individuals won't feel connected to the greater whole. In today's workplace, though, it is difficult to bring everyone physically together on a regular basis, so harnessing the power of the internet is essential. With new mobile apps as well as a slew of established online dashboard solutions, you can create a members portal for your entire team which can used to post news or industry happenings. To build on the prizing idea, sometimes just seeing the fruits of your labors come to bear through an effusive guest review or a cheerful restaurant critique in the paper is all that's needed to keep your staffers happy. It's best to think of these bulletins as a training tool whereby regular updates will educate your entire team in order to help them become better hoteliers.These are just five entry-level activities that you can take, and no doubt you already have plenty more that come to mind. So be a leader and get started today in order to be best prepared for the hotel world of tomorrow.

Effectively Managing An Aging Workforce

Hotel Mogel Consulting Limited ·21 December 2018
However, such a preoccupation with big picture trends like heightened personalization, mobile applications or machine learning, we may be putting overlooking an issue that many North American and European properties will soon have to confront - a general aging of the population, which could have profound repercussions for the hospitality industry.Population DynamicsThere are two broad factors to first consider. Without diving too far into the statistics, one side stems from the ever-increasing life expectancy - the United Kingdom, for instance, is now at 81 - with many individuals now opting to forgo the standard retirement at age 65 and carry on with their careers in senior or emeritus positions (and not mentioning how recent financial market uproars may have depleted their pensions, thereby forcing them to continue working). On the other hand, families in Western nations have been having fewer children - the 2015 fertility rate for the United States was 1.84 births per woman.Together this means older workers are more likely to stick around with fewer young candidates left to fill any available spots. It's becoming a 'seller's market' situation where the good prospects know that they have a multitude of options to select from and are always on the prowl for a better salary.Consider the Housekeeping DepartmentI first started giving this trend some serious thought following the Housekeeping Forum in Toronto this past April where one of the keynote sessions focused solely on labor issues facing this department, with particular attention given to the largely mature age of new hires.Many managers expressed their doubts about being able to adequately fill shifts without overworking the current team. Moreover, a general consensus, albeit anecdotal, was that young people just don't seem to be interested in hotel jobs anymore. Or, they are, but then they promptly leave, as is corroborated by the yearly turnover rates for non-manager employees at midscale properties which can be greater than 50% in many cases.While an aging workforce can bring with it more experience, wisdom and deference for the job, it has quite a few costly drawbacks. Firstly, they may be technology averse and unable to keep up with new onsite implementations. Related to this, older employees may have legacy issues - a polite way of saying bad habits that are hard to reverse. And thirdly, one consequence of aging is the greater risk for injury, both acute and chronic, and all with a serious impact insofar as paid leave of absence or short-term disability compensations.Potential SolutionsWhile there is no singular approach to addressing this issue, I am a proponent of having a strong company wellness program designed to ensure that your team is as healthy as can be and is highly motivated. the key to remember is that your team is your family, and any action taken to support them will result in greater productive and reduced turnover.As a part of such a program, you might consider group exercise classes, nutritional seminars, cigarette cessation plans and motivational speakers. To specifically address the chronic injury component associated with aging, you can investigate hiring a part-time RMT or setting up your own ergonomic training course.Aside from back-of-house wellness, a reinvigorated training program is now a must, especially given that the cost of losing an employee can be upwards of one and a half times that individual's annual salary then all extenuating factors are considered like hiring a new candidate, time to onboard and lost productivity. Recurrent training is a great tool to reinforce employee retention, no matter one's age, because, simply put, who isn't motivated by the prospect of acquiring new skills and receiving positive feedback for learning to do so correctly?To conclude, I'd like to stress how important it is to start tackling this issue for the housekeeping department where there are a tremendous number of non-manager workers who now fall exceedingly into the mature category. For this group, ongoing training and an ironclad wellness program can do wonders for a hotel's bottom line insofar as better morale, reduced staffing problems, fewer repetitive muscle injuries and increased employee retention. If you consider this department to be your incubator and formulate a plan that works, then you will be successful for all other operations and demographic issues that may come to affect our industry.

Beware the True CapEx of IoT

Hotel Mogel Consulting Limited · 5 December 2018
As major chains start to test and roll out their own iterations of IoT-enabled guestrooms, travelers will soon come to demand such seamless integrations from every hotel, no matter the brand. As is always the case, value-adds naturally progress into expectations, following the diffusion of innovations normal distribution with innovators, early adopters, early majority, late majority and laggards the last one here is definitely where you do not want to be.In this arms race to constantly stay ahead of the guest expectation curve, smart devices can also act a crucial differentiator between traditional hotels and sharing economy providers, whereby the sole proprietors in the latter camp will very often lack the funds needed to rearrange their lodgings with the latest technologies.But as a part of this conversation, we must consider all costs associated with IoT implementations, many of which are far outside the capital expenditures allowance for the average hotel.On a broadest level, each new device a hotel connects to its internal internet network only serves to increase the overall load on that network. Aside from the bring-your-own-device (BYOD) guest contributions of smartphones, laptops, tablets and smartwatches, IoT integrations may potentially enroll numerous other data points from smart TVs, voice-assisted smart speakers, dedicated casting boxes, smart thermostats, in-room air sensors, fire alarms, HVAC, lighting systems, blinds, lock systems, motion sensors, security cameras, minibars and water management systems.Altogether, a thorough IoT upgrade means that hotels are very likely to also need a systemic upgrade to their back-of-house routers and cabling to support all these new connections and data points. And as most of these IoT devices are connected wirelessly, this can be a heavy strain if a hotel has a limited quantity of wireless access points.No two hotels are the same in terms of what CapEx will be required, and some of the other more prominent factors include the total number of rooms (obviously), the propertys construction materials (like thick concrete or mostly drywall), its geographic location (think New York City versus an isolated rural area), exceptional throughput requirements, any additional security protocols mandated by the brand and the degree of future proofing that senior teams want for their properties. With so many factors at play, its very likely that youll opt for delaying any renovations in this regard and wait until your budget allows for a whole new network to be set up.Important to remember that this point is that the average guest does not see or care about whats required to make all these connections work. All they care about is that the IoT rooms they are paying for are indeed functional and that the WiFi speed on their personal devices is never compromised.To get a better sense of some of these complexities and lurking variables, I engaged Fred Reeder, President of Nomadix, a company dedicated to supplying best-in-class internet gateway and bandwidth management systems for hotels, to discuss the matter. I first met Fred at HITEC 2017 in Toronto where he shocked me with the meticulous levels to which operators can only control bandwidth allocation to devices during peak periods, and we recently reconnected to continue the conversation.Upgrading a network is a complicated endeavor, but in simple terms you need to make the proper investment. A robust, modular, future-proof, best-of-breed network that is transparent to the guest will be required to support the amazing technologies available today and even more exciting technologies on the horizon. If done well, the ROI will be there, sooner than you think.With internet connectivity now ranking amongst the most critical guestroom amenities on third-party review websites, this is never something you can compromise. All told, if you are considering an IoT upgrade, it behooves you to work with a qualified service provider to first assess the full scope of both the guest-facing technological costs and all the additional back-of-house expenses necessary to support all these new interconnected devices. As with any other renovation, start slow and cautiously, and be fully prepared for cost overruns.

Why Outsourcing Hotel Staff Doesn't Always Work

Hotel Mogel Consulting Limited · 3 December 2018
While the two abovementioned advantages of outsourcing are indeed quite lucrative and not to mention the overall decrease in risk involved with all forms of employee care the primary drawback is that service is compromised, especially in the face of the modern trend for personalization.Ultimately, a hotel is dependent on its people. Before the dawn of integrated CRMs and omniscient PMSs, this meant that your frontline workers, in tandem with your senior team, had to have the wherewithal and the passion for the job to remember all the specific preferences of habitus and to go out of their way to properly satisfy each guests requests. With all the data at our disposal nowadays, we seem to be forgetting this time-honored tradition of our industry.Guest-Staff Interactions Matter in the Information AgeYes, data can help you to personalize the guest experience and anticipate service requests, but such systems will never be fully capable of supplanting the emotionally charged, face-to-face encouragement one receives when dealing with a thoroughly knowledgeable and caring staff member.Because they are transient and because they are not solely devoted to your hotel, outsourced employees wont be able to deliver the same level of enthusiasm and exactness in any manner of tasks executed nor will they be able to master your specific SOPs because they may also be shuffled through a few other properties in the region.Add to this that outsourcing agencies have significantly higher rates of employee turnover, and it may be that a guest only encounters new faces every time he or she enters a public area. Not only does this dilute the customers personal connection to the hotel brand and thereby decreases loyalty, but it also poses a slight security risk as you wont know who all these fresh-faced staffers are nor will they be able to recognize suspicious visitors.I find this trend to be particularly concerning as service is one of the core components of all great hotel experiences. When we let it slide, all key monetary performance indicators will suffer over the long run.All the Best Properties Value Long-Serving EmployeesIndeed, all the best properties in the world the ones we all dream of staying or working at are ones where the staff are veterans of all the inner workings of that hotel as well as the local area.As we are all emotional beings, it only takes one convivial and insightful conversation with an attentive server or butler for a guest to overlook a propertys perceived deficiencies and give a five-star rating each and every time. It only takes one benevolent action from a seasoned supervisor who knows how to thoroughly coordinate an effective response in order to nullify any service error. It only takes the conversant fervor of a front desk clerk to motivate a guest to upgrade to a suite or to try out one of your amenities instead of wandering offsite.Only by knowing a property inside out which takes lots of time and onsite experience can a team member truly deliver an outstanding guest experience or feel empowered to go that extra mile and overdeliver on a specific service request. Knowing ones hotel and all manner of specific responses doesnt happen overnight; it requires mastery of ones line of work, which isnt possible via outsourcing.Effective Service is Built on TeamsWhen you contract out labor, the team dynamic fails to develop with trust within and between departments. As social animals, we need to develop some sense of regular contact with those in our tribe in order to be at our most productive and for our morale not to dip.To attain a level of autonomous execution of tasks and to thereby respond in a timely manner to service requests, teams must growth together. You must foster a great corporate culture and support all staff members with internal programs that benefit their wellbeing to instill a strong sense of camaraderie.If on the other hand you have fostered a culture of frequent turnover via outsourcing, any training investments will naturally have a lower return. This is in contrast with the contemporary and comprehensive in-house training teams at select properties whereby valuing each employee reduces turnover and in turn the sunk costs of onboarding and mentoring. In other words, training has a significant hidden expense associated with it, but this is easily recouped over the long run.So, if you have made the move to contract out a certain department, please consider the above downsides. They are subtle and wont be immediately reflected on a P&L, but they will inevitably cost you by eroding guest satisfaction and reducing the number of return visits, social media shares or word-of-mouth recommendations.In a travel landscape where loyalty is already waning by the minute because of the influences of the OTAs and alternate lodging providers, you cannot afford to give consumers any additional reason to not have a thoroughly memorable guest experience. You cannot afford to compromise service for outsourced labor as impeccable service will always be the core of an unforgettable hotel stay.(Article by Larry Mogelonsky, originally published in Hotel News Now on September 18, 2018)

How Can Restaurants Adapt to Modern Dietary Quirks

Hotel Mogel Consulting Limited ·29 November 2018
In my youth, my parents would take me to Joes Steakhouse in Montreal where we would eat massive rib steaks on wooden cutting boards with copious amounts of butter and sour cream lathered on baked potatoes. Posh dining equivalent might include a chateaubriand for two, expertly prepared tableside.While cognizant of my own rose-colored glasses, I still recall that no one back in the day seemed to have any food allergies or restrictions order what you want was the name of the game. Today, however, those who dine unrestricted are in the minority. A dinner amongst friends may include the following: vegan, vegetarian, Jain (no products that end a life cycle including root vegetables), kosher, halal, pescatarian, pollo-pescatarian, ketogenic, lactose intolerance, gluten intolerance, nut allergies, no carb, shellfish allergies and so on.Everyone eats, yes, but the peculiarities of our own dietary codes have become a constant topic of conversation, as well as a consternation for audacious chefs who must know appease all parties. Nevertheless, as hoteliers who invite and accept all persons of all dispositions into our homes, we must do our best to satisfy our guests. So, what can you do?Train your waitstaff to always ask every diner about dietary restrictions and food allergies. It starts with online reservations. Often a diner with special requests will advise when prompted during the initial booking. Your team should identify these notes at the time of the diners arrival and identify the individuals who are making the special request. It is not up to us as hoteliers and restaurateurs to question why a restriction exists, no matter how unusual the situation. Servers must take particular care to advise the chef and to give the right dish to the right person, as even a minor mistake here can have disastrous consequences.Know all your ingredients. A listing of all components for each dish should be readily available including substitutions that are possible as well as those that are not. This would include soup stock (vegetable, chicken, fish or beef), frying oil (peanut, sesame, coconut or lard), garnishes and sauces. If you are using ready-made products, the ingredient listings are easily identified.Try to have at least one menu item in each category (appetizer, main, dessert) that would satisfy a vegan or strict vegetarian. Next, identify these on the menu accordingly. Similarly, having almond or soy milk on hand is an obvious way to support those who cannot have traditional dairy with their coffee. Part of the fun with all this modern dietary diversification is that it has also paved the way for a myriad of obscure substitute ingredients to now attain mass appeal. As a rather esoteric one, you might even consider carob for those with chocolate sensitivities.If a diner has a special request to modify a menu item by eliminating or replacing an ingredient, encourage your waitstaff to defer that decision to the kitchen. Often it is relatively easy, but one never knows. A chef may feel as though a specific substitution will compromise the integrity of the dish and thus not want to oblige the request. If the kitchen is unable to do so, waitstaff should be trained to respond accordingly by offering a satisfactory explanation as well as another alternative.Its our legal obligation to protect our guests from harm. Its our code as hospitality professionals to make patrons dining with us as comfortable as possible. As our patrons behaviors change, so too must we adapt to meet their expectations. That pertains to dietary habits as well as most every other aspect of operating a hotel.
Article by Larry Mogelonsky

The Imminent Hotel Labor Crunch

Hotel Mogel Consulting Limited ·14 November 2018
Not necessarily specific to the hospitality industry and certainly not applicable to every geographic territory, but there appears to be a rising labor shortage that will come to affect all manner of jobs in a hotel workplace.With such a diverse array of back-of-house ranks for both university-educated individuals as well as those without a college-level diploma, we must now fight to keep every team member lest we suffer from the long-term consequences associated with increasing onboarding costs, guest service gaps and lack of proper succession planning.Especially in major Western markets, a shortage of free and available labor can mean significant increases in turnover and indirect expenses when all is considered.Illustrating the Situation Through an ExampleSuppose you run a midscale flagged property in a major urban territory in North American with 500 rooms. This means that there will be a recurrent need to fill frontline staff and supervisory positions. The process for which can be a hefty burden on the human resources department as they are required to promote these job openings, interview candidates, verify employment records and initiate onboarding of new hires, all while managing every other ongoing project.While every hotel's turnover rate will be different, some may even reach above 50% annually for non-manager positions. If there are, by a conservative ballpark figure, only ten open positions, this still adds up to a full business week out of the calendar month when all parts of the hiring process are factored in.Moreover, while being in a dense population center gives this hotel access to a larger labor pool, it also increases its 'ephemeralness'. That is, a city has a myriad of other job opportunities and organizations vying to attract the best and brightest from the labor pool, thereby luring away passionate candidates from applying for a job at your property or from applying for a job in the hotel industry in the first place.Indeed, I've heard hoteliers remark to me that it's becoming more common than before to interview and qualify a candidate to the point where a job offer is made, only for said individual to reply that he or she has already accepted a position elsewhere. Now that's frustrating!Another factor to add to the mix is the ever-shifting policy on immigration, which has a direct impact on frontline staffing prospects as migrants typically gravitate towards urban communities and represent a disproportionally larger percentage of the candidates for entry-level hotel positions that are too often viewed as inferior for legitimate citizens.Attracting the Best Young TalentOne issue related to this is that the hospitality industry is not generally viewed by the younger generations as a viable career path. The common understanding is that the best paying jobs are in the finance sector or in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics), so that is where the talent is going with service-related fields like ours left to pick up the scraps.This shouldn't be the case, and the onus is on us to improve our image amongst the millennials and centennials so that we can mentor the next generation of hoteliers who will have the intelligence and drive necessary to innovate the hotels of the future.Where the word 'imminent' comes into play is that if we don't act fast, the perception of hospitality as a 'second tier line of work' may be too hard to reverse as members of these younger generations start to choose their college majors and apply for their first serious jobs.Saving Costs Through Employee RetentionOutside of supporting your local hotel association and implementing a robust internship program, what can you do on a property level to prevent a labor crunch from seriously affecting your operations and causing a sizeable uptick in onboarding costs? The answer is employee retention by any and all means!Given how tight the margins are on running a hotel, it's unlikely that our compensation structures will ever be able to compete with the salaries and bonus packages in other industries like those mentioned above. However, we can imbue our workplaces with programs that make our hotels the best places for team growth and personal development.For this, hospitality has a few clear advantages that I don't see stressed enough. As a start, everyone can benefit from working a service-oriented job because effectively interacting with guests is an insurmountable skill that can translate near-universally for any future career path. I've personally seen hoteliers to go on to become great salespersons, primarily as a result of their ingrained ability to attentively listen to the customer's needs then respond diligently and anticipate the next request.Related to this, as a people business, hoteliers are constantly interacting with a cast of characters and have keen insights about different cultural norms far above what you will exposed to in other industries. Such a multitude of interactions makes for a lively workplace and a more fulfilling experience when all is said and done.Next, and aside from emphasizing these guest-facing advantages, we need to promote employee retention by inspiring our teams through ongoing training and engagement activities - any initiative that encourages the development of a familial dynamic and gives an explicit path of upward trajectory as a reward for hard work.Such actions will help to transform hospitality from just a job into an actual career, and my hope is that you are able to set up programs that will encourage the current generation as well as the next to view us with an open mind so that hospitality isn't left behind as the overall labor pool diminishes.
Article by Larry Mogelonsky

Ongoing Training is the New Normal

Hotel Mogel Consulting Limited · 2 November 2018
Training is an exhaustive pursuit, both in terms of time spent by supervisors and managers to onboard fresh employees as well as the interim knowledge gaps that may invite service errors. At the frontline and non-managerial levels, some hotels can have annual turnover rates so high that training becomes a perpetual obligation that detracts senior team members from other vital tasks. It can also be quite costly, in some cases amounting to the equivalent of an employee in that position's yearly salary after all factors are considered.It shouldn't be that way. What if we were able to recuperate theses sunk costs by heightening staff retention and breaking this harmful cycle of near-constant turnover?The New NormalSomewhat ironically, a key solution nowadays for reducing onboarding expenses is the ongoing training for your existing team members. In a bygone era of hospitality, properties' operations were simpler, and guests were far less fastidious, meaning that we could get away (somewhat) with a low retention rate for line staff workers. A modern hotel, though, is vastly more complex and there is simply no way to properly train anyone for any role in a short breadth of time. With the need for training now drastically higher, it must be thought of as part of a team member's continuing education.Significantly, ongoing training can act as a powerful motivational tool to keep employees engaged, especially for instances where direct salary increases are unfeasible. Moreover, retesting and periodic evaluations will help to prevent legacy issues and bad habits from setting in, thereby aiding in our pursuit for perfect service delivery.Recurrent instruction can also be utilized to give established team members more cross-departmental exposure so that they all come to realize just how dynamic a work environment a hotel is. Many organizations in our industry and others have prominent leadership or mentorship programs specifically for this purpose. If employees feel bogged down or bored with their present line of work, rather than leave altogether they could rotate through until they find a silo that best fits with their passions.Speaking of the dynamic nature of hospitality these days, new technological innovations are taking place at a dizzying rate, while guest expectations continue to rise with each passing year. Together, these rapid changes are rendering college textbooks and SOP manuals obsolete, so much so that ongoing training may be the only way to effectively ensure that your team is up-to-date with all recent implementations and industry trends.A Microlearning EnvironmentWhere the need for ongoing training becomes exceedingly salient is in how we manage our millennial workforce. Attribute whatever contributing factor you want, but the end result is that this generation learns quite differently from prior ones. Specifically, they want their on-the-job education to be available in a medium of their choosing (mobile, web and tablet) as well as in a more digestible format.The buzz word associated with this latter desire is microlearning which inscribes the process of delivering bite-sized, contextually relevant training instead of the traditional, intensive upfront learning period that has been shown to hinder overall knowledge retention.In its more laissez-faire and incremental approach, the enhanced accessibility of microlearning allows hotels to stay more agile by shortening the development cycle of new training programs or updates while also keeping costs at a minimum. Combine this with the higher skill recall as well as subsequent morale boost, and you can thus ensure consistency in service during any major transition.With all these benefits, the first step to getting underway is designing a culture that supports ongoing training. For this, you must leverage all the new technologies that have emerged in the past five years to help automate the process as much as possible, along with non-nominal incentive programs that reward team members for reaching certain training milestones. Additionally, group activities, guest speakers, offsite activities, team lunches and cross-departmental meetups are always encouraged to not only boost training but to help form strong familial bonds with your organization.

The Need for True Careers in Housekeeping

Hotel Mogel Consulting Limited · 1 November 2018
A widespread problem that hotels are currently facing pertains to staffing shortages. Lensing our discussion to the housekeeping department where turnover is often at resource-exhaustive rates, a common thread I've seen and heard from executive housekeepers and human resource directors is that this line of work is not seen as desirable, only attracting those candidates who desperately need a job and who are not motivated to stay beyond the base need for a weekly stipend.Some room attendants end up staying from lengthy breadths of time - decades even - and become cherished members of a property's team, while others view the job as merely temporary until something better comes along with an exit soon after being put on the job. Moreover, unlike other departments there is no clear path of upward trajectory to entice those youthful candidates looking for employment that promises fruitful returns over the long run.Housekeeping is deemed a job and not a career. But by transforming it into the latter, it will help to attract younger and more service-focused associates to thereby increase employee retention and simultaneously reduce the sunk costs of training.Hidden CostsThe housekeeping department is often the largest cost in terms of manhours and its frequently high turnover rate accrues a tremendous hidden cost from having to constantly onboard new room attendants. Adding to this training expense is that each new guestroom amenity adds to the total standard operating procedures necessary to clean a room, which in turn increases the time to onboard as well as the chance for omissions or errors in the cleaning process.One other ancillary consideration here is that, with automation of numerous other hotel operations (think mobile check-in), room attendants are becoming the key point of human interaction between guests and brand. By incentivizing our teams through the prospects of career advancement, one's passion for the line of work will increase, and this will be reflected in any conversations with customers.The last thing a guest wants to hear is 'I Don't Know', but that's what they'll likely get from a new team member who simply hasn't been around long enough to answer with confidence. Long-term employees, however, will be far more knowledgeable about your hotel product and be able to assist guests in a far better manner than new recruits.Aside from the more quantifiable training costs, hotels cannot compromise quality of service delivery as there are just too many options for travelers to find other accommodations for the next trip - for instance, alternate lodging providers or easy access to other members of the comp set through one's preferred OTA - should the current locale not wow them at every occasion. With this in mind, it's our room attendants who will soon become an insurmountable contributor to guest satisfaction, and we must value them as such.How to Make Housekeeping a CareerWith the long-term advantages outlined above, there are three key steps to accomplishing the goal of making housekeeping appear as more than just a job, including:Establishing programs to show that the organization cares for all room attendants as more than just laborersOngoing training as a means towards not only compliance with SOPs but also as a motivation and mentorship toolIn-person discussions or literature to demonstrate a tangible upward trajectory for room attendants to earn a higher rankFor the first bullet point, what each hotel does will vary immensely based upon location and star rating, but the broad theme is the same. While increasing hourly wages is a rather costly venture, supplementing the rigors of daily physical work with, for example, offsite group activities, team lunches, wellness seminars or cross-departmental workshops can do wonders towards instilling an enthusiastic team dynamic so that all housekeepers know that their actions are respected.For the second aspect, while ongoing training may seem to be in direct conflict with the idea of large sunk costs associated with onboarding, it is in fact the opposite because the intermittent time spent with supervisors in this manner gives management a chance to offer positive feedback and reinforce the group bond. Everyone wants to know that they are doing a good job, after all.Additionally, ongoing training can be molded within a microlearning structure to better accommodate the modern style of learning and to increase knowledge retention. Specifically for the housekeeping department where many individuals may come from other countries, this can also act as an opportunity to implement a language instruction program, further motivating those who do not speak the native tongue but want to learn nonetheless.Finally, the career planning element cannot be overstated when it pertains to attracting today's youth. Millennials and centennials are the smartest generations to date and, rightfully so, they won't want to limit themselves to cleaning toilets for any significant stretch of time without some sort of light at the end of the tunnel. Hence, it must be made clear that starting as a housekeeper before going into a supervisory role can help a new recruit to acquire a range of invaluable skills.Every employee should know from the outset that if he or she works hard and develops the proper attentiveness necessary to be a service-oriented hotelier, it will pay off. Along these lines, you might also consider setting up a cross-departmental rotation program so that newer associates can experience a variety of operations within a hotel before deciding which is favored for long-term placement.In any case, a career in hospitality can proffer a myriad of informal yet enriching expertise to any individual who has the passion for this industry. It is now a matter of illustrating just how captivating our line of work is so that we can inspire the next generation of hoteliers, and for this pursuit there is no better place to start than the housekeeping department.

Growing Wellness Revenues in Four Quadrants

Hotel Mogel Consulting Limited ·22 October 2018
For those with no prior exposure to this rather nebulous term we call 'wellness', in its broadest form it denotes hotel operations purposefully inscribed to make people feel better, either through sound nutritional aids or physically exertive activities (body), or through self-actualization programs aimed at revitalizing one's mental constitution or expanding one's experiential horizons (mind/spirit). It's okay if you are slightly new to the game, but it's crucial that you investigate how this trend impacts your hotel.And why is this trend reaching a critical mass of demand right now? In a nutshell, and with particular attention to how Western cultures are evolving, people are smoking fewer cigarettes, drinking less alcohol and looking for healthy labels in their meal options such as organic, low carb, low fat, dairy free, hormone free, antibiotic free or locally sourced. Concurrent to this, the wealthy boomer demographic is getting older and will have a strong desire for medical-based programs offered by hotels while traveling. Moreover, the very-soon-to-be spending leader that is the millennial generation is increasingly fitness-obsessed and highly influenced by unique experiences such as those offered by wellness programs.Indeed, the term 'wellness' has become a catch-all for hotel properties to initiative new programs to lure guests - whether it be for the spa, the fitness center, in-room, on the restaurant menu or through local partnerships - and some are in fact quite lucrative.Under this broad umbrella, you can and should make incremental improvements that are in line with what your core audiences want from your hotel when it comes to wellness. With its rapidly rising demand, even traditionally excluded segments like business/corporate, conventions and other groups will soon look beyond just price or location and to a property's wellness features as a primary driver when making their travel purchases.In building a productive wellness program that works to build incremental revenues and boost the overall guest experience, you should thus look at the four quadrants of where you can make an impact, aiming to slowly upgrade your operations in all major divisions in order to 'holistically' meet this demand. These four areas for implementation include:In-roomOn-propertyCommunity partnersBack of houseIn the GuestroomSleep programs are now universally recognized as a strong value-add because, well, everyone sleeps! Whether you are a jetlagged road warrior looking for a restful night before a sales meeting or you just got off a seven-hour long haul to kickstart the yearly family vacation, who wouldn't want to have access to such in-room features as sleep-inducing lighting, special mineral-infused relaxation showers or even a pillow concierge?Aside from thinking about your customers' slumber, you should also look to their exercise regimens. Less so for luxury or resort properties where a fully equipped gym is within the capital expenditure budget, in-room fitness will make its biggest mark for the business guest who only has a few spare minutes before the next event. Programs such as Hilton's Five Feet to Fitness will prove to be phenomenal drivers for loyalty and for urban, short-term travelers.While every effort you make in both regards will be beneficial to the incoming guest - and may even be the deciding factor for booking with you versus a competitor or in selling a room upgrade - where hoteliers must focus their efforts is in the promotion of these new amenities. After all, what good are these programs if no one knows about them?Press releases and advertising through a heightened website presence or social media are a great start. Where real traction can be gained, though, is in utilizing advanced bolt-on software to boost activation at key points in the prearrival experience. There are now plugins that can deliver interactive 360-degree room tours or 3D dollhouse views where hoteliers can ping users to specifically highlight these in-room wellness features as well as prompt viewers to browse the more expensive room inventory - for which these suites can be further differentiated with more wellness features for a potential upsell. Then there are the centralized guest messaging systems that can be set up to ask new arrivals at just the right time if they are interested in any of the hotel's wellness offerings or are planning to fit in a workout.Throughout the PropertyThe food revolution knows no bounds, and indeed upgrading your restaurants, bars and in-room menus to be more amenable to the diverse array of dietary proscriptions and the newfound demand for healthy eating is worthy of its own article. The same goes with the spa which is likewise going through its own transformation into the more encompassing 'wellness center'.The key throughout these endeavors is that they must be initiated within the context of the property. A fitness center at an economy hotel need not focus on more group classes with high profile instructors or free strength assessments, but instead might investigate how to supply guests with loaner exercise clothing so that they need not pack their own when traveling for work (or returning with sweaty gear in their suitcases). Brands like Fairmont, Trump and Westin are already doing this quite successfully.On the other hand, many hotels that strive to be more aspirational are going the experiential route with healthy cooking classes, on-property vegetable gardening tutorials, customized herbal tea creations, personal training sessions, spa treatments involving an interactive component, aromatherapy, personalized meditation programs and even DNA-based wellness itineraries. The key here is to think in terms of unique experiences while offering guests activities that are fun, physical and educational.Again, technology should be deployed to maximize awareness and usage of these onsite wellness features. For example, think about how geofencing via a hotel app can be utilized to prime users about wellness experiences both big and small around the property. When a guest approaches one of your restaurants, you can then ping them with information about what's new on the menu and some of your healthier options.Surrounding the HotelMuch like those that you design to be provided exclusively from your team and onsite, partnering with local vendors taps you into a much larger network of possible wellness experiences. This becomes critical when you don't have the facilities or the staffing capacity.And similar to those where you are the sole supplier, what's most important is to stay on-brand and to offer something extraordinary. Just look at Hyatt's new wellbeing program FIND and some of the truly remarkable once-in-a-lifetime packages they have set up. Next, look at your comp set to see how they have leveraged the neighborhood. Not every property needs to have class vouchers and free shuttle service to a renowned yoga studio in the area - again, differentiation works best.Like Guest, Like EmployeeIn order to become a bona fide wellness-minded property, you must embrace it on all every level, and that includes the back-of-house. Your staff is your family, and you should care for them as you would any paying customer. After all, how can your team members be effectively motivated to sell these programs and experiences if they aren't also passionate about what wellness can offer?Think group exercise classes, nutritional programs with voluntary enrollment or offsite activities. Be a leader and show your whole house the light!Concurrently, a healthier team can end up saving you in several indirect ways on the bottom line. First, healthy employees take fewer sick days on average and can be more productive. Next, they'll be less likely to jump ship because of the ancillary benefits you have given them in addition to their salaries, thereby reducing turnover and the sunk costs of onboarding fresh faces. Lastly, certain wellness programs - such as those aimed at helping employees quit smoking - can be positioned as a means of lower your insurance premiums.With this in mind, a wellness manager that can facilitate health-conscious programs for all employees is rapidly becoming a must-have role within the human resources department. Ultimately, though, helping your guests as well as your team live healthier lives can be both profitable and personally gratifying. If you need help getting underway, I'm always available to chat!

Adjusting to a Hotel Labor Shortage

Hotel Mogel Consulting Limited ·18 October 2018
Not necessarily specific to the hospitality industry and certainly not applicable to every geographic territory, but there appears to be a rising labor shortage that will come to affect all manner of jobs in a hotel workplace.With such a diverse array of back-of-house ranks for both university-educated individuals as well as those without a college-level diploma, we must now fight to keep every team member lest we suffer from the long-term consequences associated with increasing onboarding costs, guest service gaps and lack of proper succession planning. Especially in major Western markets, a shortage of free and available labor can mean significant increases in turnover and indirect expenses when all is considered.Revealing the Issue Through an ExampleAn example best illustrates this cause-and-effect situation. Suppose you run a midscale flagged property in a major urban territory in North American with 500 rooms. This means that there will be a recurrent need to fill frontline staff and supervisory positions.The process for which can be a hefty burden on the human resources department as they are required to promote these job openings, interview candidates, verify employment records and initiate onboarding of new hires, all while managing every other ongoing project. While every hotel's turnover rate will be different, if there are, say, only open ten positions, this still adds up to a full business week out of the calendar month when all parts are factored in.Moreover, while being in a dense population center gives this hotel access to a larger labor pool, it also increases its ephemeralness. That is, a city has a myriad of other job opportunities and organizations vying to attract the best and brightest from the labor pool, thereby luring away passionate candidates from applying for a job at your property or from applying for a job in the hotel industry in the first place.Indeed, I've heard hoteliers remark to me that it's becoming more common than before to interview and qualify a candidate to the point where a job offer is made, only for said individual to reply that he or she has already accepted a position elsewhere. Now that's frustrating!Attracting MillennialsOne issue related to this is that the hospitality industry is not generally viewed by the younger generations as a viable career path. The common understanding is that the best paying jobs are in the finance sector or in STEM (science, technology, engineering, mathematics), so that is where the talent is going with service-related fields like ours left to pick up the scraps.This shouldn't be the case, and the onus is on us to improve our image amongst the millennials and centennials so that we can mentor the next generation of hoteliers who will have the intelligence and drive necessary to innovate the hotels of the future. Where the word 'imminent' comes into play is that if we don't act fast, the perception of hospitality as a 'second tier line of work' may be too hard to reverse as members of these younger generations start to choose their college majors and apply for their first serious jobs.Outside of supporting your local hotel association and implementing a robust internship program, what can you do on a property level to prevent a labor crunch from seriously affecting your operations and causing a sizeable uptick in onboarding costs? The answer is employee retention by any and all means!Given how tight the margins are on running a hotel, it's unlikely that our compensation structures will ever be able to compete with the salaries and bonus packages in other industries like those mentioned above. However, we can imbue our workplaces with programs that make our hotels the best places for team growth and personal development.Underlying Benefits of Hospitality JobsFor this, hospitality has a few clear advantages that I don't see stressed enough. As a start, everyone can benefit from working a service-oriented job because effectively interacting with guests is an insurmountable skill that can translate near-universally for any future career path. I've personally seen hoteliers to go on to become great salespersons, primarily as a result of their ingrained ability to attentively listen to the customer's needs then respond diligently and anticipate the next request.Related to this, as a people business, hoteliers are constantly interacting with a cast of characters and have keen insights about different cultural norms far above what you will exposed to in other industries. Such a multitude of interactions makes for a lively workplace and a more fulfilling experience when all is said and done.Next, and aside from emphasizing these guest-facing advantages, we need to promote employee retention by inspiring our teams through ongoing training and engagement activities - any initiative that encourages the development of a familial dynamic and gives an explicit path of upward trajectory as a reward for hard work.Such actions will help to transform hospitality from just a job into an actual career, and my hope is that you are able to set up programs that will encourage the current generation as well as the next to view us with an open mind so that hospitality isn't left behind as the overall labor pool diminishes.Editor's note: To discuss business challenges or speaking engagements please contact Larry directly.

How Does Your Restaurant Account for Allergies

Hotel Mogel Consulting Limited · 4 October 2018
Food allergies are not only commonplace nowadays but continue to become more prevalent, particularly in a North American context. This means that allergic considerations will only become more prevalent as millennials and post-millennials come to dominate the travel economy as well as the workforce.Those individuals who are known to have certain afflictions are well-aware of the challenges they face - the common ones being peanuts, fish, shellfish, eggs, tree nuts, dairy and soy, but can also include seemingly more innocuous examples like garlic, red meat, wheat, berries or certain species in the mustard family. These individuals take (or should take) extra care necessary to identify themselves and mitigate any risks. To do otherwise is simply foolhardy.Along with such back-of-house operations like housekeeping, foodservice is one of the most important components of any full-service property's success - at least from a guest satisfaction perspective. While the critical nature of food allergies has probably already been covered numerous times by your team leaders, it is necessary for you to bring this up continually in order to ensure that it remains top-of-mind.Personally, I somehow have a bad reaction to scallops but not any other type of shellfish. While it's not anywhere close to life-threatening, the results of its consumption are rather unpleasant for the next four to six hours.However, I once inadvertently served shellfish to a friend with a more serious allergy, as he had never previously mentioned this to me or anyone else at the dinner party. Thank goodness another one of my guests had an EpiPen, or the results might have been tragic. The point here, though, is that you are ultimately responsible for your guests' safety above all other factors. While this guest should've made his allergies known, I was in the wrong for not asking and not having any emergency treatments on hand.As such, I strongly advise that you err or the side of caution, again because of the increasing rate of food hypersensitivities in Western society. While, for most of us, peanut butter is a delightful umami flavor, it shouldn't grace the kitchen of your 'something for everyone' restaurant, lest you exclude certain guests or families with allergic kids from eating there, or, worse, provoke a medical crisis. At the same time, your suppliers need to identify any items that may contain trace peanut elements while you pay that information forward to customers.Importantly, allergic considerations may play a prominent role in influencing other members of a dining group. If one person has a particular sensitivity, it may be the deciding factor towards choosing a 'safe' place to eat. Moreover, even if these patrons choose your outlet, all the others in that group will judge how you deal with this particular member's allergy concerns, factoring it into their appraisal of your restaurant.Going one step further now, advise your staff dining in the cafeteria to avoid bringing peanut products into your facility. This may sound somewhat extreme, but some guests are so allergic that residue from a housekeeper's hands might be enough to trigger a reaction.Lastly, having a non-expired EpiPen in your restaurant and your catering office is always a good insurance policy that most of you likely already have in place. However, it's the training of managers and servers that can degrade to the point of negligence, and therefore this must be readdressed at least once a quarter so that everyone is able to quickly identify the symptoms of anaphylaxis. Part of this instruction should also include ways for servers to ask guests about their allergies and how to properly relay this information back to the kitchen.As with many situations, communication is the best form of prevention. You owe every individual who sets foot in your hotel a duty of care, and you should do your best to avert any crisis before it even has the chance of occurring.

Staying Aware of New Housekeeping Legislations

Hotel Mogel Consulting Limited ·26 September 2018
It would appear, though, that labor unions throughout the United States are starting to gain ground with new legislation in several territories that mandate enhanced protocols for housekeepers' safety. Given this momentum, no matter your municipality, state or country, you would be wise to keep track of these new laws and preemptively make the necessary changes to your operations so that you don't have to play the costlier catch up game later on.On the one hand are the now-required panic buttons for room attendants, most prominently coming into effect for all hotels in Chicago and with rollouts in several other key cities. Given the way IoT technologies are progressing, equipping your entire team with small devices that can perform this function as well as integrate into your WiFi network should not be onerous. Plus, we're talking about mitigating a security risk, so everyone wins.More complex and comprehensive, California has just ratified a new law requiring specific training of housekeepers to help prevent the onset of musculoskeletal injuries as well as instructions on proper use of hazardous chemicals, all for the benefit of protecting workers from chronic medical conditions.These new programs must be specifically designed to help reduce the onset of bodily injuries through proper training for all employees, and all training must be recorded for the government to give its stamp of approval. Moreover, these regulations apply to outsourced labor - anyone who works on-property.All the mandated safety and training programs must be set up by October 2018 with hefty fines for hotels that are not compliant (roughly $13,000 USD per incidence for first-time offenders to $130,000 USD for willful or repeated violations).In terms of what's required for Californians, the core of this new legislation is the setup and enforcement of a musculoskeletal injury prevention program (MIPP). Starting with periodic evaluations of any potential onsite risks, hotels are also required to create a pervasive reporting structure for all occupational injuries as well as all steps taken to prevent onsite injuries.These MIPPs must involve extensive training of both the room attendants along with their supervisors on SOPs and proper ergonomic movements with annual retesting. Conducted in a language that the worker readily understands, everyone must now be educated and intermittently updated on the risk factors and symptoms of workplace injuries.Putting the housekeepers aside for a moment, an unhappy team can cause a serious disruption to the bottom line. A stressful environment means low morale which in turn means lower employee retention, pesky staffing issues and extra resources devoted to onboarding. Moreover, short-term disability leaves resulting from repetitive motion injuries (RMIs) or prolonged exposure to chemicals can also result in additional staffing problems, not to mention the possibility of insurance payouts.So, what can you do? As a start, you should monitor how events unfold in California and other territories where the panic button is now in effect over the next several months. With an aging workforce and more conclusive data to support labor unions' petitions across the nation, you may soon be compelled to act. From there, it would be prudent to investigate your options, then put in place your own panic button and MIPP equivalents as the benefits to your bottom line from having a healthier, safer workplace are clearer now than ever before.To read all the exact details and guidelines of this new law in California, go here: https://www.dir.ca.gov/oshsb/documents/Hotel-Housekeeping-Musculoskeletal-Injury-Prevention-proptxt.pdf

Where Should Staff Live For Remote Resorts?

Hotel Mogel Consulting Limited ·24 September 2018
This approach can have several drawbacks, not to mention the extra expenses involved in subsidizing all these additional personnel living on property. In speaking with Bill Rheaume, Director of Management Services at Inntegrated Hospitality Management (IHM), he offered two resorts that together offer a holistic view of the advantages and disadvantages of the different approaches to the staffing challenge that most rural properties are facing.As background, IHM is a Canadian hospitality consulting and management company offering a full range of integrated management services for hotel, resort, and food & beverage operations, specializing in operations efficiency, market repositioning and cash flow maximization with numerous client properties found throughout the country. The two hotels that Bill has highlighted for this case study are Baker Creek Mountain Resort situated just outside Lake Louise, Alberta within the iconic Rocky Mountains, and Halcyon Hot Springs Resort nestled away in the interior of British Columbia and over two hours drive from the nearest major population center.Approximately 50km from the renowned ski village of Banff and over two hours' drive from Calgary, Baker Creek is a 35-room resort that is mandated by the government to supply some form of employee housing because of its location within a national park. Given this directive, all team members live onsite save for one commuting senior manager, with staff have the option of four separate, multi-purpose buildings with four additional apartment units devoted solely to the management level. Most line employees typically share a room while supervisors are assigned their own rooms.The leading advantage of this setup is that all team members are always close by, thus affording them an unsurpassed ease of going to and from work. With the rent subsidized, staff also have the ability to prepare their own meals instead of depending on a cafeteria or takeout. Lastly, the Rockies beckon, giving all employees immediate access to a plethora of hiking trails, winter sports and some of the most spectacular scenery in the world.While these pros are crystal clear, some of the drawbacks can become quite demoralizing over the long run. First and foremost is cabin fever. The remote location means that employees have limited external social interactions, and even less 'breathing room' away from their fellow teammates. This can be particularly burdensome for line staff who do not necessarily get to choose their roommates with the potential for personal conflicts to ensue. As well, just because their accommodations are bankrolled by the hotel does not mean that they can afford a car, and they are often at the mercy of friends or the resort's shuttle to use the national park's array of amenities and services. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy, am I right?Located in an even more remote locale in British Columbia's West Kootenay region, resort ownership decided to take a slightly different approach for the 45-room Halcyon property. A variety of employee housing exists onsite including some rooms above the restaurant in the main lodge as well as a series of RVs and rooms in a modular building located in a designated area of the grounds. These on-property accommodations account for 40% of staff while the remainder live in Nakusp - the nearest town, approximately 30 minutes' drive away. Recently, the resort owners made the decision to expand employee housing in Nakusp rather than increasing on-site accommodation, acquiring a residence and land for a new building, and they happily provide a daily shuttle service for all staff living there.Like that for Baker Creek, the onsite employee housing has all the same benefits and shortcomings. However, those living in offsite housing are able to experience a greater social dynamic in that they are embedded in a community for more frequent interactions with friends or family and they have a small buffer away from their place of work. The two downsides to this residence in Nakusp are both related to cost in terms of subsidizing the higher rental prices and the hour-roundtrip shuttle service.While Baker Creek and Halcyon demonstrate two slightly different approaches, there are quite a few other variants for you to consider, but it all depends on your resort's unique situation. To make a decision one way or the other, Bill emphasized the following key questions:Does the labor environment or talent availability necessitate the creation of employee housing?What legal requirements for housing are mandated in your territory?What type of employee are you trying to attract? Are you looking for an attribute that may limit your options like mature staff, managers, experienced tradespersons, couples or families?Is the resort within the boundaries of a town or village? Moreover, is the resort within walking distance of essential services or amenities?Does the property have enough space or land to accommodate employee housing away or out of immediate eyeline of guests?What is the cost of building or repurposing an existing building onsite versus the construction or acquisition of offsite housing? For the latter, have you considered future real estate value?What are your ancillary costs associated with any form of employee housing including maintenance, transportation and taxation?While there's certainly a lot to consider here, what Bill's analysis has shown is that you must give some more thought to how certain types of housing will influence the long-term morale of your team members as well as how this will affect service delivery or staff retention rates. If you're able to carefully answer the above questions, though, you will undoubtedly reach the best possible solution to your housing problems.

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