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Article by Larry Mogelonsky

How Guests Purchase After The Path-To-Purchase

Hotel Mogel Consulting Limited ·4h
So much emphasis is put nowadays on streamlining your hotel's path-to-purchase in order to gain a competitive edge within the various booking sites that we may be missing out on an equally important source of revenues stemming from the time period immediately after a reservation is made.With some exceptions in the groups segment, it's in this interval that guests start to think about all the other expenditures that accompany a trip: food, amenities, transportation--aside from airfares that are typically booked first--and activities. And therein lies a literal goldmine. So, let's break down what's going through a guest's mind at each of the five major stages from post-booking to pre-arrival.Stage one: Buyer's remorseGood hotels aren't cheap. If this wasn't an instrumental factor for the average customer, then why are the price filters within the OTAs and metasearch websites so popular? The fact remains that most people struggle with finances, travel or otherwise, and this not only influences what property is ultimately selected but also how the individual feels after the reservation is confirmed. Oftentimes, a dent in the wallet also incurs a dent in one's psychological armor. In other words, the emotional trauma of a stressful monetary decision causes physical pain which also manifests as fear or regret.My advice during this opening salvo is to congratulate the guest on his or her purchase. Dissuade any post-booking anxiety by making them feel welcome and getting them pumped up for their stays. Don't push the sales button; simply reassure them that they chose well and that every day with you will be time well-spent.Stage two: Renewed explorationThe pain of purchasing will eventually subside. You can't stay mad forever, as the saying goes. Whether the cooldown takes several weeks or a full fortnight, eventually guests will resume the search, but this time for ways to round out their trips aside from which beds their heads will land. This exploratory phase can include just about everything, and it will vary by the individual and his or her specific reason for traveling.It's important to note, however, that this part of the customer pathway doesn't necessarily mandate additional purchases; it is mostly just discovery. Nevertheless, now is when you seize the chance to enlighten your guests on all the other possibilities available during their upcoming stays. Guests' mindsets have shifted positively enough by this point that they will be more inclined to entertain your additional offers, be they specific room selections for an incremental fee, suite upgrades, use of on-site amenities or experiential programs.While guests might already have an idea of what they want or they may only wish to casually browse, the key is to put yourself out there for guests to see. And as you will likely have an email address attached to each reservation, developing one-to-one marketing materials isn't hard. Imagine receiving a personalized notice from a hotel shortly after making a reservation that invites you to view 360-degree tours of rooms, public spaces and other facilities to develop the narrative of what's possible.Stage three: Acquisition with reservationsThe pain of the initial acquisition has evaporated but the memory of that depletive expense has not. As such, there will be some hesitancy toward additional purchases. But if you've done your job right in the previous stage by letting guests shop from afar without being pushy for the immediate sale, they will be more likely to come back to you when they feel ready to fork over some extra cash.Sometimes, though, they will need another jolt to spur them into action. A system to monitor communications thus far should clue you into the ideal time to re-establish contact. Blast your customers with any promotional offers, any events you are trying to fill or any packaged activities. Now is also when guests are most inclined to seriously consider a suite upgrade or putting a few extra dollars down to guarantee that corner room.Such technology that enables exploration and post-booking acquisition is no longer mere fantasy either. Circling back to that email you sent out prompting customers to view virtual tours of your spaces, it isn't rocket science to also bolt on a direct portal to purchase any of the additional offerings on display within a 360-degree video system. You can facilitate exact room selections based on features like the views or access to a club lounge, or even the layering on of in-room arrival enhancements like wine and chocolate truffles for a romantic getaway.Stage four: Remorse reduxAnother bill, another headache--the anxiety of scope creep comes into play at this juncture as customers start to notice all the mounting expenses associated with this particular trip that were far beyond the initial estimate for airfare and accommodations. Nevertheless, you can always make more money but never more time, so the pain from purchasing additive experiences will hardly be indominable. It, too, will soon reach acceptance in the quest for time maximization.What this also means, however, is that trying to sell even more at this point is not necessarily a good idea--or it will fall on deaf ears. Costs aside, too much structure turns travel into a martial drill, so once the initial batch of ancillary sales are complete, let your customers play it by ear. Revert to your relaxed demeanor during the second phase and invite spontaneity in your messaging by talking about all the cool happenings that guests can only uncover once they are on-site.Stage five: Approach anticipationNo matter the trip, no matter the loyalty status of the traveler, everyone feels some degree of excitement as they enter the final stages before leaving. For the road warrior who's in a different city every week, this duration could amount to the night prior to travel. For the head of a nuclear family unit who is preparing for the quartet's first weeklong beach vacation, it might be two weeks of preparatory errands to get all affairs in order.Knowing your customer and his or her travel purpose will let you capitalize from this positive anticipation because these details will inform you on the best time to broadcast any last-minute deals, promotions, unsold events, open reservations at your signature dining outlet or leftover room inventory that's available at higher rate.From the above two traveler types, it's obvious that a room-selection sale promotion aimed at the businessperson won't get nearly as enthusiastic a response rate if delivered three weeks out rather than three days out. Conversely, for the family on holiday, a similar offer may simply be too much to juggle in the days beforehand because there are simply too many other odds and ends to wrap up.ConclusionIt's all about knowing when to strike as well as empathizing with your guests in terms of what stage of the emotional purchasing rollercoaster they are currently on. Just because someone isn't in the mood to buy at that exact moment doesn't mean he or she wouldn't mind just shopping for pleasure. The journey is often as rewarding as the destination.Adopting an attitude that's aligned with this philosophy will result in more awareness for all your hotel's ancillary features and, of course, more revenue. From there, it's a matter of making your systems work for you--most likely your CRM interacting with your PMS--to design and test timely offers under the broad strategy of maximizing each current guest's utilization of your property's offering instead of merely trying to get new customers. I've identified a seamless bolt-on system that can be deployed for the specific room selection, room upgrade and merchandizing functionalities addressed above--Koridor, based out of Atlanta, as well as other emerging platforms in this niche such as Hotel Room Chooser.Thinking broadly, though, perhaps it's time to stop using the term 'path-to-purchase' altogether for hospitality because it incorrectly insinuates that purchasing ends with the initial reservation. Instead, to realize your property's full potential, adopt an attitude whereby the customer life cycle of booking, pre-arrival, on-site experience and post-departure are in reality a never-ending wheel for sales.

Your Wine List Needs Branding Too

Hotel Mogel Consulting Limited ·23 April 2019
Of course, we are talking about branding and marketing as much as we are talking about the physical alcohol inventory. While most of this critical exercise will be handled by the restaurant, the hotel and the marketing department, the wine list must still match the greater vision if it is to truly shine. Importantly, it needs a cohesive brand if it's going to do its job as effectively as possible - that is, make you money!For this, I've come up with the fun acronym of C.A.M.E.R.A. so you can take a big 'picture' look at your broader beverage strategy with seven key guidelines to help you craft a menu that doesn't induce yawns, sneers or apathy - three emotions that hardly make guests want to whip out the credit card.Congruency. To repeat the obvious, all alcoholic offerings must fit with the restaurant's theme and its intended clientele. It must be a harmonious effort to tell a consistent narrative. For example, if you're opening a fancy, thousand-dollars-per-meal steakhouse, then, sure, stock a few bottles of Mouton Rothchild. But if you are running a bustling pizzeria designed for lots of covers and fast turnovers, you might consider only a few whites and reds to simplify the decision process. I've even seen a swanky trattoria realize incredible success with only one house red for a buck an ounce.Approachability. Although not necessary the same as affordability, there is a significant overlap. While there will always be the high rollers and special occasion diners willing to splurge on expensive champagne or a rarified Bordeaux, such individuals run contrary to current restaurant trends. The future of dining is one of reasonable pricing and sampling the unknown while still inviting patrons into in environment that's fun and enlightening. With the millennial cohort now acting as the guiding force for new concepts and openings, start to think about small batch, craft infusions, exciting glassware, tasting flights, wines with a story behind them and all without any egregious sticker stock.Memorability. If you were to distill your restaurant's beverage offerings down to one single sentence, one phrase, one elevator pitch or one quintessential drink that will be the bell of the ball on Instagram for next five years, what would this be? Consumers nowadays are so bombarded with media and businesses vying for their attention that sometimes the only way to cut through the noise is to simplify your concept down to its most emotionally titillating component. Once you find that, work to amplify it and complement it to round out the drinking experience.Exceptionality. In a nutshell, if all you have in stock is what's also offered at the local liquor shop, then whoever built your wine list is just plain lazy. True, one can make the argument that what's familiar to guests is what makes it approachable and thereby increases sales, but I would argue strongly for the opposite point of view. After all, if what you have on your beverage list what's available at the convenience store down the street, then you're also giving your customers a direct price comparison so they can see just how much you're ripping them off! Instead, it is the unique twists and subtle differences in both the beverages themselves and their presentation to each guest that will earn you buzz, return visits and the ability to justify a higher price.Regionality. As an offshoot of both memorability and thematic congruence, diners nowadays want to delve into the story of a specific geographic area. Even if only for that one meal experience, they want to immerse themselves in a culture, time and place, for which your wine list is but one element of the overall equation. For instance, a trend of late for which I'm a big fan has been the hyper-regionalization of traditional European eateries. No longer can you simply open an Italian or French restaurant and hope to garner any level of sustained attention without an edge, like a Michelin chef or celebrity benefactor or some sizeable marketing oomph. Instead, people are opening Sicilian, Genovese, Provencal or Savoyard restaurants, with the beverage selections narrowcast on each respective territory's local produce and heritage.Accessibility. Different from approachability, this pertains to the actual physical display for your list. The key here is you want to enhance a patron's sense of discovery while also not inducing decision fatigue. You want your alcoholic listings to be a pleasure to read - that is, legible fonts with breathability on the page - but not too long so that it makes it difficult to come to a final selection within a reasonable timespan. In other words, it's as much an art as it is a science, and definitely a job more suitable to a graphic designer to help you figure out. Still, though, it's up to you to ensure that the list only features the wines and other spirits that best represent your theme. Less is more. And if you have a long list, then consider an abridged version accompanied by a binder or a tablet app for servers to hand out on request to true oenophiles.

Booking Engine Personalization to Adapt to the Experience Economy

Hotel Mogel Consulting Limited ·12 April 2019
We all know they are both important for driving satisfaction scores, loyalty and healthy return over the long run, but there doesn't seem to be a straightforward and one-size-fits-all path towards operationalizing these trends in a way that's meaningful for guests.To wrap your head around how these two concepts can drive each other in a virtuous and profitable circle, you must first understand what the experience economy is and how it is slowly supplanting our current service economy model. From there, you can analyze nearly any operation in your hotel through this lens - and in particular your prearrival channels - to see how minor tweaks will add to something far greater.Cultivating Your 'Experience Economy'What this buzz term entails is the maturation of any transactional relationship into one that resonates and enriches the customer's livelihood. It's all about creating memories and deepening the connection between individuals. Think in terms of the five senses - sights, smells, sounds, tastes and touch all play a role in how someone interprets and remembers a given situation.So, for any service you provide, how can you heighten what senses a recipient utilizes during any interactions? This can be far more microscopic than grand projects like adding resource-heavy onsite activities or new amenities to differentiate your property. Yes, those are important, but so is addressing all guests by their name when they show up, or knowing in advance that one particular client likes his or her guestroom set a tad cooler than the average person.Any aspect of a hotel that can be customized to meet someone's individual tastes or preferences is ultimately an experience unto itself because of how each consumer interprets and benefits from this customization over the long run. But in order to greet guests by their preferred monikers or decide what temperature the room should be (in addition to a myriad of other points of preference), you cannot wing it. You have to start qualifying and introducing optionality from the very first transaction, which these days is most likely an online inquiry or booking.Starting On The Right FootIn the past, if you wanted to truly deepen your relationships with guests, you trained your team relentlessly to learn about each individual and you briefed them as often as possible on the peculiarities of these VIPs. For today, though, it's all about getting technology to work for you to develop rich guest profiles that automatically sort through the full range of personal preferences for team members to access them on-demand.These digital guest profiles are, of course, built upon gathering data about your customers, and for genuine personalization this cannot be relegated to only measuring interactions on property. Your first impressions are everything, and you make a great one by learning about your guests and customizing their hotel experiences as far in advance of their arrivals as possible.One of the biggest obstacles thus far has been that the required technological processes are exhaustive and incompatible with most hotels' current tech stacks. Not so anymore!While you may not have the financial equivalent of a gargantuan like Amazon which leverages its gazillions of searches and purchases to generate bespoke recommendations, you can take a page off a slightly smaller giant's playbook - Marriott. This house of brands is adroitly learning about guests' prearrival room preferences through what is labeled as 'attribute-based reservations' whereby the direct booking engine becomes a portal through which customers are made more aware of the varied features and attributes otherwise hidden in the guestrooms.Personalization Through Guestroom DifferentiationMany hotels think that a property should only have a handful of clearly demarcated room types to be selected based mostly upon bed type - twin doubles, twin queens, kings, junior suites and whatever name is given to the multiroom villas. Attribute-based selling and even the selection of a specific room lets you to get more granular with what features are displayed and possibly influence price.As an example, an intuitive attribute already universally deployed to heighten revenues is the guestroom view. Oceanview, garden view, sunset view, high floor, low floor or parking lot view - all should be leveraged to tweak the nightly rate of each exact room. A business client on a per diem will not necessarily care about having a downtown skyline view and might therefore go for the slightly reduced room rate on a low floor. But I would bet that a couple celebrating its anniversary would indeed care about augmenting the romance of the occasion with a panoramic vista of the city. And this couple would undoubtedly be willing to spend a few extra bucks for this by selecting a room that guaranteed it.The incorrect time to introduce this attribute-based selling or the possibility of upgrading a guestroom, however, is during check-in. It's too late to maximize your first impression and to further customize the hotel experience because guests will feel that they are being pressured into a sale.Instead, any upsell or specific room selection must be done during or shortly after a guest makes his or her booking. An easy extension here that goes beyond viewpoint preferences would be proximity to services and amenities. For instance, resorts are renowned for upselling customers on where suites are relative to the beach, but who is to say that urban hotels can't also individualize the room reservation process by, say, prompting guests to decide if they want a room that's closer or farther from the elevator? Similarly, hotels can segregate floors within a tower and then develop tiered levels of service with additional charges for each.Selling Every FeatureUsing room details and their physical positions to develop new subsegments makes you think of all the other aspects of the guest journey that can be monetized. Starting with the time immediately after a booking prearrival allows you to better prepackage add-ons like club floor access, food and beverage, spa treatments, classes, tours or gifts.And it's not just about what a customer ultimately purchases, but also what he or she doesn't buy. As an example, imagine you run a semi-remote mountain resort and a couple buys your gourmet getaway package. Once guests have selected their room type, the booking engine promptly invites them to also procure a food platter or alcoholic beverage, to be placed in the room upon arrival. Next, suppose this same gourmet getaway couple doesn't select any of the additional F&B choices but instead opts for something more experiential, like a wellness hiking tour. This can indicate that perhaps with all the other prepackaged meals in the bundle, the guests want something aside from just food.Knowing these sorts of characteristics about your guests in advance means you aren't leaving money on the table in the form of room upgrades or merchandise sales. These personalized enhancements, for the booking engine or otherwise, are ultimately what the experience economy is all about, so start using technology to find these new streams of revenue and your property's future will be bright.

Meet the Bleisure Demand With Meeting Experiences

Hotel Mogel Consulting Limited · 5 April 2019
The bleisure incentive has thus far been the prospect of extending a few days on either end of the main event to fully appreciate said location. However, the demand for heightened experiences on the leisure side are starting to creep into the business segment as travelers yearn for the same level of excitement from their meetings or conferences that they get from their personal time.Knowing that experiences are important to guests of all segments will help to clue you into the fact that your meetings and groups business can no longer solely rely on price, locations and essential services as the driving forces for sales. You need to offer something extraordinary, an activity that gets all five senses working or a signature moment that differentiates your product from all others.After all, if all you have to compete on are the three above mentioned points, then know that meeting planners and the organizations they represent are often quite flexible on the location of their events nowadays, they will continue to gouge you for better rates or discount until the overall deal is hardly profitable and all of your essential services can inevitably be copied by another property with the right amount of training.The only way to survive is through the addition of experiential and emotional elements to your meetings and events, but this is far easier said than done. That's why I stress not to try and reinvent the wheel right off the bat.Start slow with this new initiative through little touch points to augment any conference or event. Knowing that your business guests probably don't have a full two extra days to fill up with 12-hour excursions, you will want to investigate what short-term activities - that is, taking up less than two- or three-hours' time - you can utilize as complements to your meeting packages. Here are some ideas:Incorporating onsite activities that can include teambuilding exercises or even F&B components like group tastings that feature local goodsCooperating with tour operators or building these internally so that business guests have the opportunity for a quick morning or afternoon sojourn to get them out of the meeting roomDeveloping local retail partnerships that can provide your groups with exclusive discounts at their outlets or those that can visit your propertyCapitalizing on the wellness trend by offering a slate of spa bundles, healthy dining options, fitness classes or other forms of informative group sessionsPromoting bleisure-driven room packages so that meeting planners and their groups are incentivized to experience more of what you have to offer before they even bookRethinking the physical design of your meeting, conference and event spaces to imbue more emotionality and interactivity like wall art, visually stimulating furniture or tabletop gaming unitsAside from the last point, none of these will necessitate any untenable capital expenditures if you develop a long-term plan to gradually incorporate experiences into meetings and groups. With every destination and every hotel having a different situation, what I stress is that when strategizing about this topic, you should look to 'own' one singular element rather than try to do everything at once.What makes your area truly special? What is your hotel already doing that's exceptional? How can your property become known for being the absolute best at one particular activity? If you are able to answer these questions, then that's a great place to start developing your experiential meetings program.
Article by Larry Mogelonsky

The Don'ts Guide To Hospitality Leadership

Hotel Mogel Consulting Limited ·29 March 2019
One overriding-yet-indirect maxim that has vast implications for leadership development is, "If you aim to do everything good, then you will do nothing great," which is often attributed to Zig Ziglar, a famous American salesman. In other words, when you try to do too much, the result will be that you've overextended yourself and that no singular task gets the attention it needs to make it a genuine success.While you can undoubtedly see how this adage might apply to other aspects of hospitality--particularly service-oriented operations and marketing--it can nonetheless help to strengthen a hotelier's leadership style through the process of elimination.While other literature will often instruct on trying new approaches or adding to your repertoire with tips and tactics for properly managing a team, why not flip the nail on its head and discuss what not to do? In this sense, by learning to abstain from certain activities, you will end up simplifying your day-to-day and focusing on what actually works.So, for this "Don'ts guide to hospitality leadership," each of the four sections starts with what a senior executive is doing wrong and then offers a possible course correction involving the removal rather than the addition of specific practices.The general numbers managerThis individual bases everything that he or she does off of data and concentrates on the minutia of what these figures might infer. Such a hotelier makes a habit of perusing daily reports for small variances, and then, like a weather vane, rapidly responding to any push or pull.In this day and age, it is all too easy to fall back on the numbers because they can be directly quantified to project cost savings or potential revenue increases. Such temptations are becoming more prevalent as senior executives' bonuses are often structured around how good a profit and loss statement looks at the end of the year.However, we are all in a business that deals with fundamentally irrational beings--otherwise known as people--thereby rendering omniscient forecasting impossible, no matter what machine-learning software or adaptive-intelligence algorithms you apply to a given situation. And this problem will only proliferate as we increase the amount of data points that we measure and integrate into our systems.The first and most obvious step here is to look at the overall trends and what they mean in a broader sense rather than immediately drilling down to each minuscule data point in search of correlations. Along these lines, do not react on a whim to what may or may not be revealed by these numbers. Hospitality is, and will always be, about the people.The budgeteerClosely related to the data-centric individual, everything for this hotelier is based upon whether or not the budget is achieved. Such a person ends up becoming mesmerized by the budget's monthly data, making short-term decisions to reflect each of the 12 parts of the cycle.Through a gradual process of drinking too much of one's own Kool-Aid, a senior executive with this mentality ultimately becomes exceedingly parsimonious, where all current operations as well as any new initiatives must be reflected in definitive cost figures. All line items must be trimmed, and there's always a cheaper way to accomplish a given task, such as frequently changing suppliers or bidding them against one other for the lowest price and replacing long-term staff with temporary labor.While slashing costs is commendable, a critical drawback is that the guest experience suffers. In a people-oriented business, growth is dependent on the relationships you build--those with your guests as well as those with your suppliers and your team. So, if you are willing to rotate vendors as you would a deck of cards, do you really expect these corporate partners to give you their best? Moreover, such a flippant attitude has a way of reflecting back onto your customers, working to erode your hotel's loyalty.It might already be obvious, but the principle here is to not be spendthrift to the point where it hinders positive relationship building. Don't focus on pennies; this will only make you pound-foolish, as they say. Instead, look to only support those programs that you give your full support towards.Prim and properSuch an individual has his or her airs. That is, this person doesn't like to get his or her hands dirty and has no genuine interest in the rest of the frontline team. Often, a hotelier like this will not be receptive to constructive criticism or fresh ideas or will acknowledge them but not truly listen to their meaning and just smile or nod without really caring.This type of 'elevated management' where leaders view themselves above other members with a lower rank has no place in the modern work environment. We are all one team with one goal: to offer our guests an unparalleled guest experience.So, do not separate yourself from the rest of your staff. On the contrary, assimilate yourself. The more you come to know and empathize with every employee, the more likely your team will be to perform at its best and also to bring forward their ideas which may help keep your organization one step ahead of the competition.The desk masterAs a team leader and manager, there will always be another reason to stay put behind your desk with your office door closed. Whether it's a conference call, sorting through emails, browsing daily reports or reviewing long-form documents, we are all highly susceptible to a butt-in-chair approach. What tends to follow, though, is that we become overly structured and by the books, seeking verbatim guidance from brand manuals and unable to think independently.The GM position at any hotel is not a desk job. In fact, administrating everything from your office is a surefire way to become out of touch with your operations and all the other quotidian happenings at your property. While forgoing the desk altogether is quite difficult nowadays, strive to make your rounds often, if not daily.After all, a time-honored hallmark of many luxury hotels is the personal attention that each guest receives from senior executives, especially the GM who is more than likely to be present for both check-in and check-out as well as surprise checkups during mealtime. Do not hide behind your desk, and instead try leading your hotel from the lobby to deepen your relationships and visibly inspire other team members to be great leaders just like you.

Hotel Operations Always Come Down to Your People

Hotel Mogel Consulting Limited ·28 March 2019
Springtime sees the prerequisite visit to my favorite outdoor furniture shop. Over the past few visits I had been dealing with the same fellow who was both friendly and extremely knowledgeable. While our largest purchase was made prior, we continued to acquire additional items that he recommended based upon his prior knowledge of our purchasing history and what he thought would best help us 'fill in the gaps' for our terrace.To my surprise on our latest visit, though, this salesman confided that sadly this was his last week in the store. He was moving to another furniture company - not a competitor but a retailer who offered him greater opportunities for his personal growth. When asking about his rationale, he told me that he had been with this firm for four years, and in that period, management had never given him a performance appraisal nor any promotion, merely perfunctory small Christmas bonuses and cost of living raises.He went on to say that when he announced his departure, the owners quickly pitched him with a management position in another store, commensurate with a substantial raise. But for him, the die had been cast and he declined their Hail Mary pass.Unfortunately, for many hoteliers the situation described in the last few paragraphs is quite reflective of our own staffing troubles, especially nowadays where our industry is not viewed as glamorous like it was in a bygone era. While we tend to be very good at weeding out those who we find unable to excel in a service-based culture, at the same time we often overlook our star performers or do not give them the motivations they need to stay enamored.With the human resources department typically tasked with this balancing act, ultimately it still rests upon the line supervisors to formally evaluate their teams at least once per year as well as to motivate whenever time permits. There are numerous guidebooks and forms that you can utilize, and I will not go through the details here as I am confident that you can obtain this from better sources than me!No matter the plan or the vision, hotel operations are entirely dependent on their human capital. The execution of any project requires good people to see it through.Suffice it to say, the costs to your organization of losing a staff member through benign neglect or inadequate vertical trajectory planning outweigh the nominal costs of staff retention. Too often we focus our efforts on cost savings measures, renovation programs or immediate challenges while forgetting one of the fundamentals of our positions as leaders.When I was in packaged goods, the firms I worked with each undertook an annual staff audit where senior managers were required to identify their teams' individuals' career paths. The process allowed everyone to see the future of the organizations' human capital. Once identified, it was the individual manager's responsibility to communicate, nurture and educate future leadership.Perhaps today's dysfunctional hotel operational programs with separate ownership, corporate brands and management companies are partially to blame. It may also be a consequence of the times and not unique to any particular field or industry. Nevertheless, your goal is to make sure the star performers at your hotel are identified and valued. There is too much at stake in losing good human capital, especially at a hotel where service will also be a matter of passionate individuals helping others have the best possible experience.

Fixing Your Washroom Experience

Hotel Mogel Consulting Limited ·26 March 2019
As a highly personal space and one where people are quite vulnerable (a polite way of saying that they may or may not be naked), any faults or perceived flaws here will be greatly exacerbated in a guest's mind. Hence, before you consider hiring a premier interior designer to transform your lobby into a contemporary third place or renovating your fine dining outlet, think about addressing any inherent flaws in your bathrooms, lest they count against you.While every property is different insofar as what budget, the space will allow and the brand SOPs will allow, here is a top ten list of some potentially deal-breaking room features to assess:Weird showerheads - confusing faucets, lack of water pressure, inability to adjust for different person heights, oversensitivity with water that's either too hot or too coldLack of towels - as a simple test, ensure that you have enough for a husband and wife pairing to both shower and use additional hand towels twice per dayLack of amenities - similar to the towel situation, a couple shouldn't have to call down to request extras when showering bidailyLack of bathmats - tile floors get slippery very easily and we'd all perhaps not to crack our skulls open on the sink porcelainCramped countertops - guests want to spread out and they especially do not like when items like a toothbrush fall into the less-than-hygienic sink because of thisPrivacy - don't fall for the design trap of partially frosted glass doors and definitely be sure that the doors are able to fully closePoor lighting - people who can't see what they're doing will become irritated when grooming themselves, and you increase the risk of someone fallingSmall mirrors or lack of vanity mirrors - people who have to bend and twist while grooming will likewise become irritated, not to mention any strain on the lower backAmple toilet paper - it's always better to err on the side of too much for this one, and be sure to keep your reserves stored out of splash distance from the toilet or showerNo table surface near toilet - this one is a wholly modern one whereby many travelers read off of their phones while doing their business but then need a flat, hygienic surface to temporarily store their mobiles while finishing upUndoubtedly there are numerous others, many of which may involve actual new features that can act as value-adds to the guest experience. Alas, you have to walk before you can run, so fix the basics and make sure you're flawless before trying anything new.

Profiting From Prearrival

Hotel Mogel Consulting Limited ·25 March 2019
The nauseating pain point here is that travelers are now expecting hotels to dedicate more effort towards making their time on property personal and meaningful, irrespective of the resources necessary on the company's part. With home sharing firmly entrenched, guests have countless accommodation options these days, so you simply must do something to customize their experiences.Luckily, prearrival represents one area of the customer journey where you can make significant inroads inexpensively and relatively quickly towards genuine guest experience personalization.In an interesting psychological study from last spring by Professor Helen Chun at Cornell University School of Hotel Administration, it was found that savoring an upcoming experience heightens the actual enjoyment of that experience both when it's rendered as well as when it's recalled. Hence, any attempts to heighten the interactivity during this stage may subconsciously work to deepen one's affinity or trust with your brand as well as boost overall guest satisfaction.Importantly, besides helping to build anticipation for the actual stay as well as give you a few extra data points to add to a guest's profile, there's also the potential for additional revenue via incremental merchandising or amenity purchases and room upgrades.Building Your Prearrival ExperienceInserting your brand into the travel conversation from the start is essential and this will require a concerted effort from your social media, your public relations and website development team. Key here is to demonstrate to guests the full range of activities and amenities available at their fingertips if they reserve a room at your property.But alas, customers may not peruse every option while they are in a 'sense of discovery' mood. Concurrent to your efforts to get them to book, the gap that needs to be filled exists from the instant a guest's credit card information is verified to the moment of arrival onsite.Shamefully, most hotels only send out a booking confirmation via email during this stage. Some may call in the week prior to doublecheck. Instead, this should be your opportunity to engage, to learn and offer customized enhancements for the upcoming stay.Just look to how airlines have built an almost entirely new vertical out of selling individual seats after a customer buys a ticket. Not only are these specific selections a source for extra revenue beyond randomly assigning seats, but the interfaces of these platforms afford airlines the chance to present their premium-tier product to a captive audience.Now imagine the possibilities for hotels which are inherently far more diversified strata than airplane seats. How cool would it be to browse through a property's inventory and select your exact room? Guests could choose one on a high floor for a better view or the one farthest from the elevator for maximal quiet, and the hotel could even charge for such a privilege if it so desires. Moreover, any guest selections through these platforms will inform the hotelier on individual preferences for the upcoming stay along with any other future trips taken by said guest.Experience Economy OpportunitiesThe phrase 'experience economy' comes in full force whenever we discuss initiatives that hope to profit from intensified personalization of a place or activity. Capitalizing on the current prearrival experience trend, several hospitality companies are already on their way to fruitful gains in this space.Unveiled for its North American collection consisting of over 2,200 properties, the Best Western Virtual Reality Experience allows consumers to view 3D videos and interactive tours of each hotel's top amenities and room types. Similarly, Hilton is rolling out new detailed room selection functionality for its HHonors loyalty app. Even Arne Sorenson has touched on this for subject for Marriott as a means to migrate prospective guests away from the OTAs through what is being called 'attribute-based selling'.Don't think that this technology is solely for the whales of the industry, though. A fascinating company based out of Atlanta called Koridor offers hotels a PMS-integrated platform that lets guests view 3D tours and dollhouse views of all available rooms as they go about selecting one in particular or even choosing to upgrade on the spot. Likewise, GLH Hotels across the pond - a midsized UK owner-operator - commissioned a web agency to build a proprietary Hotel Room Chooser bolt-on product for its booking engine. In short, prearrival enhancements are accessible for nearly any budget.So, as people are looking to the travel industry for heightened experiential offerings, and simultaneously as the big chains and software innovators pave the way, the time is right for you to start boosting your prearrival as a means to deliver the best possible guest experience and therein realize better profits.

Your Website As ADA's Latest Frontier

Hotel Mogel Consulting Limited ·20 March 2019
One would think that meeting Americans with Disability Act (ADA) requirements is limited to your physical facilities, but what about those with disabilities who are trying to book your property through your website?The authorities have recently set a new mandate to fine business-to-consumer sites that fail to meet certain levels of criteria, so this is not a topic that can be brushed aside, especially if you have a brand.com within your control and are not reliant on a major flag's banner, all of whom have internal design strategy teams to manage these sorts of issues.With this in mind, I had an interesting conversation with Scott Topolski, an attorney with Cole Schotz P.C., to weigh in on the online features that are scrutinized for ADA compliance.According to Mr. Topolski, a hotel is considered a place of public accommodation, and as such it will be subject to ADA Level III. The Department of Justice has not passed any specific regulations to convey its own guidelines related to website accessibility, so what we have to rely upon at this point are Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) created by the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) of the World Wide Web Consortium (W3C). These are guidelines, not law but nevertheless, it is clear at this point that websites are subject to ADA.I asked if there has been any instances of lawsuits against a hotel to-date. At this time, Mr. Topolski has not been made aware of any reported decisions on website accessibility cases involving a hospitality property, but there is little doubt in his mind that some have already been sued because of this. Moreover, he notes that the frequency of these lawsuits is increasing, particularly in the states of Florida and New York.The number of such cases rose significantly in 2017 and the first half of 2018. In 2017, 7,663 ADA Level III lawsuits were filed in federal court, 1,062 more than in 2016 and due in large part to website accessibility lawsuits. Recently, one case went to federal court in South Florida against Winn-Dixie, with the supermarket chain losing.Mr. Topolski also notes there is a bill pending before the United States Senate - it has already been passed by the House - that would require pre-suit notice and an opportunity to mitigate prior to filing suit. If passed by the Senate, it nonetheless remains to be seen if it will apply to website accessibility cases. As written, it appears to be directed toward issues relating to physical access to property and not websites, but this appears to be a grey area.The main recommendation I can offer is to be proactive. If you wait to get sued, it is going to be a whole lot costlier, as you are still going to have to pay to make your website ADA compliant. As well, you are going to have to hire an attorney and pay for any external litigation fees.The WACG rules are readily accessible and clearly stated here, so why not pass this onto your risk management team as well as your website manager?

Recapping the Starbucks Roastery Concept

Hotel Mogel Consulting Limited ·18 March 2019
Visiting the country affords nearly every traveler the right to outstanding coffee, with a perfect little cafe adorning nearly every city block. So, when Starbucks decided to make its move, it had to be bold and it had to be different from what's considered the norm in Italy's coffee culture - to not only earn the ongoing praise of locals but to hopefully also give the company another revenue stream that they could export around the world.The Milan RoasteryStarbucks decided to enter the Italian market starting in Milan with a single store - the Starbucks Reserve Roastery Milan. Converting a historic post office, it is undoubtedly the largest Starbucks in the world. Dominated by a multi-story, unobstructed roastery and adjoining packing line in its center, eight serving counters wrap around the outer walls with coffee-related merchandise sold in the middle.On the mezzanine, you'll find a bar with a half-dozen mixologists whisking together a wide range of alcoholic beverages with, surprisingly, no coffee service on this level. Instead, with most every order comes free pizza to ply patrons with a little nosh.On a weekday afternoon, service was brisk and efficient. Above all, the coffee was superb. Looking over the vast expanse from my balcony seat, I estimated about 400 people actively pursuing a cup of their favorite brew as they watched the brewers shuffling about in the center to roast and bundle the beans on the spot.It's All About the ExperienceWhile every cafe in Europe has its charm, the experience offered by this Reserve Roastery was exceptional, and therefore memorable. While any place can inevitably make a fantastic cappuccino, here it's all about the experience and the vivid activation of the five senses.Beyond the taste, think of how the wafting of freshly roasted beans smells, how the constant grinding of those beans from every corner plays on the ear drums or simply how having so many people in one room resembles less a traditional cafe and more a German beer hall.Applying this to the hospitality industry, how do you move your aspects of your business from serviceable or great to something truly experiential? Certainly, you're not going to spend a massive amount of CapEx to build a roastery in the center of your restaurant, but the core idea of full sensory activation is nevertheless critical for the next evolution of your operations.Thinking experientially does not have to be limited to your coffee program, of course. Initiate a dialogue with your staff to see how you can slowly integrate newer and wilder ideas into your restaurants, your bars, your lounge areas, your pool areas, your meeting spaces or anywhere else that's guest-facing.Ask what measures can be taken to create elements of your service delivery with a unique thumbprint. Hotels must be fun and exceptional in order to truly command an upwardly moving ADR and to create year-round demand. Designing micro-experiences are a great way to make your hotel stand out.

Can Hotels Sue Their Governments Over Home Sharing?

Hotel Mogel Consulting Limited ·15 March 2019
Taxi drivers working in the City of Toronto launched a $1.7 billion CDN (about $1.4 USD) class action lawsuit against the city itself, claiming damages that reflect how much licensed taxis have lost - what is sometimes coined as 'plate value' - since these ride-sharing services came into the municipality. Given that drivers are licensed by the city itself, they say that the Toronto government has failed to protect the taxi industry and is thus negligent. Spokespersons for Toronto have responded saying the city bears no responsibility for any financial loss, the devaluation of taxi permits/plates or the state of drivers' retirement pensions.Not being an attorney or a party to any of the statements of claim, I merely wish to draw parallels to the situation we in the hotel industry are facing. To open a hotel in most jurisdictions, you require an occupancy permit. Issued by a local licensing board, this permit requires any lodging operation to demonstrate compliance with a series of safety standards and other critical elements designed to protect guests, workers and the surrounding community. Some jurisdictions also mandate regular inspections for health, safety and fire regulation. As hotel operators, we look at these requirements as part of the normal operating process.To echo hoteliers' perennial battle cry of leveling the playing field, I have yet to see a sharing-economy operator subject to all of these licensing procedures and to the same rigors as traditional hotels. How is this fair to the hotel operator? We do not argue the expense of the regulation. But in doing so, we expect that everyone else doing business in the lodging industry follow suit.For the most part, electing to put a residence into the accommodations pool through, say, Airbnb or the like does not necessitate the acquisition of an occupancy permit, nor does it require any strict safety inspections. The playing field is simply not level, and from this I can see why cabbies in Toronto have banded together to throttle their discontent at the city itself. The very concept of regulation is under question, and governments haven't acted hastily enough to preserve the inherent value of the licenses or permits they issue.As an example, if an extreme one at that, what happens in the case of a pop-up, 30-room condominium hotel comprising 30 different owners? Each is acting separately, but they may all contract for common services such as management, maintenance and housekeeping. Would they need an occupancy permit or perhaps 30 permits? How is this situation different from one where there is just one entity that happens to have multiple shareholder-owners?Moving to the issue of legalities, what legitimacy is there to a city's mandatory occupancy permit requirements if these are not universally upheld? Does the bylaw under which this permit process was granted specifically state that the permit is required for a property with a minimum number of rooms? If not, why aren't all properties licensed regardless of their approach to marketing, channel distribution or positioning differences?Unlike the financial hardship that has befallen the traditional car service industry, most hoteliers have had a pretty good year-to-date 2018. As such, it will be hard to rally the troops and justify a full-fledged legal battle against any government agencies like what the taxi drivers are starting to do. Nevertheless, I see nothing wrong with the ironclad stipulation that every operator, from one suite to one thousand rooms, should require a license to operate.Does this sound fair? Is there any room for a middle ground in asking for the same regulations as traditional hotels? What happens when the next economic downturn hits and our 2018 numbers start to wither due in part to the gross oversupply stemming from the glut of alternate lodging providers?

In Vino Veritas LXXI: Your Wine List Sucks

Hotel Mogel Consulting Limited ·13 March 2019
Quite the statement to kick off the In Vino Veritas series for 2019, but, sadly, it is too often true. To put it more politely, think of this in terms of a series of questions. What does your wine list stand for? Is it meaningful for customers? Does it fit with the theme and business plan for the parent restaurant?Of course, we are talking about branding and marketing as much as we are talking about the physical alcohol inventory. While most of this critical exercise will be handled by the restaurant, the hotel and the marketing department, the wine list must still match the greater vision if it is to truly shine. For this, I've come up with the fun acronym of C.A.M.E.R.A. so you can take a big 'picture' look at your beverage offerings with seven key guidelines to help you craft a menu that doesn't induce yawns or sneers.Congruency. To repeat the obvious, all alcoholic offerings must fit with the restaurant's theme and its intended clientele. It must be a harmonious effort to tell a consistent narrative. For example, if you're opening a fancy, thousand-dollars-per-meal steakhouse, then, sure, stock a few bottles of Mouton Rothchild. But if you are running a bustling pizzeria designed for lots of covers and fast turnovers, you might consider only a few whites and reds to simplify the decision process. I've even seen a swanky trattoria realize incredible success with only one house red for a buck an ounce.Approachability. Although not necessary the same as affordability, there is a significant overlap. While there will always be the high rollers and special occasion diners willing to splurge on expensive champagne or a rarified Bordeaux, such individuals run contrary to current restaurant trends. The future of dining is one of reasonable pricing and sampling the unknown while still inviting patrons into in environment that's fun and enlightening. With the millennial cohort now acting as the guiding force for new concepts and openings, start to think about small batch, craft infusions, exciting glassware, tasting flights, wines with a story behind them and all without any egregious sticker stock.Memorability. If you were to distill your restaurant's beverage offerings down to one single sentence, one phrase, one elevator pitch or one quintessential drink that will be the bell of the ball on Instagram for next five years, what would this be? Consumers nowadays are so bombarded with media and businesses vying for their attention that sometimes the only way to cut through the noise is to simplify your concept down to its most emotionally titillating component. Once you find that, work to amplify it and complement it to round out the drinking experience.Exceptionality. In a nutshell, if all you have in stock is what's also offered at the local liquor shop, then whoever built your wine list is just plain lazy. True, one can make the argument that what's familiar to guests is what makes it approachable and thereby increases sales, but I would argue strongly for the opposite point of view. After all, if what you have on your beverage list what's available at the convenience store down the street, then you're also giving your customers a direct price comparison so they can see just how much you're ripping them off! Instead, it is the unique twists and subtle differences in both the beverages themselves and their presentation to each guest that will earn you buzz, return visits and the ability to justify a higher price.Regionality. As an offshoot of both memorability and thematic congruence, diners nowadays want to delve into the story of a specific geographic area. Even if only for that one meal experience, they want to immerse themselves in a culture, time and place, for which your wine list is but one element of the overall equation. For instance, a trend of late for which I'm a big fan has been the hyper-regionalization of traditional European eateries. No longer can you simply open an Italian or French restaurant and hope to garner any level of sustained attention without an edge, like a Michelin chef or celebrity benefactor or some sizeable marketing oomph. Instead, people are opening Sicilian, Genovese, Provencal or Savoyard restaurants, with the beverage selections narrowcast on each respective territory's local produce and heritage.Accessibility. Different from approachability, this pertains to the actual physical display for your list. The key here is you want to enhance a patron's sense of discovery while also not inducing decision fatigue. You want your alcoholic listings to be a pleasure to read - that is, legible fonts with breathability on the page - but not too long so that it makes it difficult to come to a final selection within a reasonable timespan. In other words, it's as much an art as it is a science, and definitely a job more suitable to a graphic designer to help you figure out. Still, though, it's up to you to ensure that the list only features the wines and other spirits that best represent your theme. Less is more. And if you have a long list, then consider an abridged version accompanied by a binder or a tablet app for servers to hand out on request to true oenophiles.

The Need for Hotels to Embrace a Cause

Hotel Mogel Consulting Limited · 6 March 2019
I don't mean to get preachy but between rampant deforestation, pollution, invasive species and a slew of other manmade problems, nearly every ecosystem has been thrown out of whack, which will inevitably come back to bite us all in the behind in the form of billions of dollars in damages from adverse weather conditions or, as I dread, lives lost. Those flora and fauna already at risk - and those which are imperative to biological equilibrium - will be even further destabilized in the coming years and any support will undoubtedly help.Furthermore, as community leaders, it's important for hotels to be particularly active in this regard. Even if it doesn't involve the preservation of a specific local animal, the broader banner of corporate social responsibility and giving back in general has a synergistic effect that's good for the community at large as well as the overall quality of your team.The first question for you to answer is why would you devote a portion of your scrupulously tight budget and human capital to overseeing a project that has no direct tangible benefits for your property? While the advantages may not be immediately clear per se, there is indeed a straightforward chain between environmental advocacy and increased profits, albeit one with many steps.We already all know that corporate social responsibility is good for public relations which in turn will cast your hotel in a positive light. But the altruistic initiatives you shepherd are more than just a means of attracting benevolent customers who vote with their wallets for companies with strong value systems. Rather, the first group of stakeholders you want to inspire are your associates and managers.While guests come and go, it's your team that lives and breathes your property every day, and at present there is an increasing number of people - especially amongst the millennials and centennials who will soon come to dominate the labor pool - who actively choose to work for organizations that care. So, by not adopting a cause, by not instituting a thorough recycling program, by not participating in that annual food drive, you are shooting yourself in the foot. You won't attract the most engaged, young hospitality stars and those who do come under your employ won't be as motivated as if they were at another organization that takes these matters seriously.On the flip side, by actually creating a local wildlife conservation program - as but one example of how you can give back to the community - it will demonstrate to every member of your team that they are working at a place that is making a difference. As a result, every associate and manager will be subtly motivated to put in that extra effort, to service guests better and to bring forward the next great idea that will improve operations. Ultimately, more back-end efficiency combined with more front office smile will always amount to greater guest satisfaction and profits.Interestingly, this effect is also an unintended outcome of the locavore movement that numerous hotels have embraced in the past decade. To elaborate, the notion of supporting local producers is primarily designed to make the guest experience more authentic and unique to a particular geographic region. Yes, there are also other advantages to consider like reduced food miles (for your restaurants) and more natural ingredients that are less harmful to the environment (such as for your spa treatments).However, these efforts also mean that employees will witness other neighborhood vendors thrive and the community benefitting as a whole. Thus, these same individuals will then come to view those hotels that partner with local suppliers as great organizations to work for, and they will more motivated to help said companies with their business goals.So even if it's a simple conservation donation program or one designed to raise awareness by educating guest on one specific local animal that's threatened, actions on your part will be mutualistically beneficial to all involved. Do the community and your hotel a favor by investigating what's possible!

Looking Back on the Great NYC Hotel Race

Hotel Mogel Consulting Limited · 5 March 2019
It was so large at the time that, the day after its opening, a circus complete with elephants and all was staged in its grand ballroom. Following extensive renovation by the Trump Organization, the property was reborn in the 1970s as the Grand Hyatt.Not to be outdone, The Pennsylvania Railroad opened its own property, Hotel Pennsylvania, adjoining Penn Station some 15 blocks away. Intentionally opening a few days ahead of the Commodore, it was managed by Statler Hotels and was even larger with 2,200 guestrooms. Hotel Pennsylvania was also one of the first hotels to have a private bathroom for each guestroom. Amenities in the hotel included concierge, a dentist, a fully functioning hospital, separate plunge pools for both genders, a barber shop, a drug store, numerous bars, a coffee shop, a library, a spa, a full slate of restaurants and multiple conference rooms.Fascinatingly, the property used a patented 'Servidor' two-way door system where valets could leave clothes or other articles inside each room's doorframe so as to not disturb guests. The property is still run as New York's Hotel Pennsylvania, although the room count has been reduced to 1,700 as many of the original hotel facilities have been converted to alternate commercial uses. And its telephone number, Pennsylvania 6-5000, that was immortalized by Glen Miller who played in the hotel's Cafe Rouge still works to this day.A hundred years ago, railways ruled. Hotels were seen as a necessary extension to a railway's hub system. Thus, the impetus and funding for hotel development was clearly identified. Today, there is no such symbiotic relationship, so mega project such as these are rare. In the North American context, the only analogous example would be Las Vegas where gaming can justify the enormous capital investment.Will both of these historic hotels survive the next one hundred years? The two properties have thus far taken vastly different trajectories - flag versus independent; premium versus economy pricing; full versus limited service.Importantly, looking back at these two properties and how they've evolved over the past century will elucidate what can happen to your hotel. Nowadays, the issues facing hotels are daunting:How have guest expectations changed over the past century and how will they continue to past over the next hundred?Can you recall the exact moments when operational checkouts have been amended and expanded over the past couple decades or even the past few years?Will your hotel be able to withstand the pressures from the sharing economy?What new technologies will come to be essential for a proper hotel experience?What other major forces will come to revolutionize hospitality in the next few decades?Will the value of the underlying asset - that is, the land value - be satisfied by the annual returns of hotel operations, or can it be better served via an alternate model?How can you refurbish an underutilized or derelict space to create a new revenue stream?Above all, do certain hotels have a natural expiry date or can any property live on through new capital injections mixed with rebranding and updating of services?Every urban property is facing these issues, and indeed every hotelier must at the very least ruminate over them in order to plan ahead for future guest demands. Most interesting to me is the first question posed because guest expectations seem to be accelerating in their requirements and thus pose the greatest challenge for managers in terms of keeping up with the trends, let alone setting them.As a final thought, consider the fact that one prominent value-add of the Roaring Twenties was having an air conditioner in your guestroom, which happened to be a new invention of that decade with hotels, particularly those in Atlantic City, acting as the technological innovators rather than the laggards that most of them currently are. With this in mind, let's wish these two centurions both a happy anniversary, and then look to how your property will ring in its centennial.

What Hotels Can Learn About the Guest Experience From Starbucks

Hotel Mogel Consulting Limited · 1 March 2019
The long-term and strategic vision for Starbucks may surprise you, though. It's not just about coffee and compelling you to consume every ounce of caffeine exclusively from them; it's about the culture. There have been several books written about the brand and their business approach. True, there are issues and growing pains, as there are for any corporation of this size and stature. Let's set those aside for a moment, as well as any personal beverage preferences that you might have, and let's focus on the vision.Start by looking at Starbucks purely as a brand. The logo is easy to identify and reinforced through multiple vectors, while the product is consistent and, for the most part, decent. Moreover, part of the product also includes each outlet's atmosphere which are comfortable and have free WiFi to thereby encourage a social environment that caters to every age group.How about this apply to your property? Firstly, it's not just about the guestrooms, which you can compare to Starbucks coffee. Of course, these should be top-of-class with good variety and some unique offerings, but more importantly you should ask how your vision for the hotel will foster a great culture? And don't let having only one outlet - versus thousands for Starbucks or a major hotel chain - deter you from approaching this question. In fact, this will make the task ahead far easier as the ship you're trying to steer isn't the Titanic.Culture starts with the concept of a sense of place. Think of your lobby as a living room. Encourage guests as well as locals to linger, to check their phones, to chat, to grab a drink, to explore, to enjoy the furnishings, to interact with staff. How are you going to get visitors to sit for a moment and thumb through emails if you don't offer free WiFi with clear signage? How are you going to stimulate conversation with readily access coffee and beverage services? Alcohol consumption isn't critical to this - and it may not be feasible with your local laws - but refreshments of any kind will always help.An example of sheer brilliance in this area is the Library Hotel Collection. Visit any of their four New York City properties and you'll see this 'living room concept' in action. They go even further with complimentary food throughout the day. It's this community approach where 'mi casa es su casa' helps to not only promote casual meetings in their public areas, but also interactions between disparate groups of guests.Alternatively, think of any W Hotel and the work that that brand has done to generate buzz amongst the young and the hip. Their lobby bars and rooftop pool areas are always hotspots, and this atmosphere is complemented by similarly striking decor in the rooms. While I certainly wouldn't want you to create a facsimile of this brand, touring one of its properties will help you to understand how all the little touches compound each other to create a vibrant, symphonic ambience. And from this, you might ask what type of culture you are trying to create? Do you want a fun, electric vibe or are you looking for a more traditional sensibility with perhaps a few art deco or neoclassical flourishes?On that note, I can't stress enough how much interior design and artwork can help to contribute to this sense of place. Visual stimulation helps spark emotions and incites a willingness to interact with such a dynamic space. Moreover, furnishings can activate other senses like touch and smell which good design also takes acoustics into account. In an ideal world, you would have budget to completely redo your lobby bar, making it an impressive hangout spot brimming with colorful art and plush decor, all congruent unto a given theme. Alas, though, this is only possible for 1% of hotels at any given time, so do what you can, knowing that any improvements in this regard will pay off when done right.Aside from physical upgrades, a key factor of this sense of place is your staff and their guest service aptitude. Friendly, helpful, responsive, knowledgeable, insightful, funny, stylish and charming are but a few of the adjectives you want people to ascribe to your team. As well, encourage senior managers to mingle with guests in the lobby area, particularly when you host a regular 'Meet the Managers' social event. If possible, consider moving your concierge to be more visible and a part of this milieu. And if you have an in-house PR or social media team member, this is where they should spend a part of each day - talking and mingling with guests.To conclude again with Starbucks, it came as no surprise when the company announced the closing of its online store. Starbucks isn't in the merchandising business. Even with the excellent mobile app that lets you zoom in and out of the nearest location, the brand knows that it's unique selling proposition is in its great in-person experience. Culture isn't fostered through computer clicks; it's made through human interactions. So, take a page from Starbucks and focus on heightening your sense of place, and then watch as your reputation blooms!

The Hotel Mogel's 2018 Hotel of the Year Awards

Hotel Mogel Consulting Limited ·26 February 2019
Now in its fourth iteration, it is time once more for some awards season fun. As I continue to traverse the world and experience the countless variations and regional nuances within the hospitality industry, my hope is you will find some learnings from these honors.This year represented one of my most intensive travel years with 130 room-nights away from home. I also used the past twelve month stretch to thoroughly experience the sharing economy with a week's accommodations in Italy booked through Onefinestay, an Accor-owned subsidiary. Even with this decrease in actual properties visited, there were ample award winners to choose from.Please again note that the following hotels are not presented for backscratching purposes; they offer exemplary lessons for you all which can be applied to your own little slice of hospitality. For one other short note, with few resorts visited this past year (alas, I have to work!), this category will be revisted for next year's installment.Best Concierge: The Four Seasons Lisbon concierge welcomed us like a long-lost friend. Not having made any arrangements prior to arrival, the team seemed to anticipate our every requirement. As an example, we hired a driver for a guided tour and, surprisingly, a gourmet picnic hamper was packed in the trunk, complete with china, cutlery, linens and a local sparkler.Best F&B Relaunch: Is the typical hotel restaurant dead, or just napping? Today's diners want variety and approachable cuisine, eschewing all formalities. One very trendy approach is that of a food hall where a number of small-counter-kitchens each serve a specialty, surrounded by retail takeout options. At the Fairmont Montreal Queen Elizabeth, the latest venue - Marche Artisans - presents a perfect example of how to bring food to both hotel guests as well as the local community. Situated adjacent to their Roselys Bistronomie fine-dining outlet allows for creative expansion of space for their well-subscribed Sunday brunch.Best Housekeeping: We all appreciate the Swiss for their consummate drive for perfection. When it comes to housekeeping, the quaint Hotel Dante Lugano exceeded every parameter of cleanliness. The entire room looked as if it had never been used before, even though it is in the well within of the historic city center. The bathroom was so flawlessly white that the yellow rubber duck (a takeaway gift) literally shone. Even the turndown amenity was orderly. No envelope for gratuity here. When I asked the GM about his team, he confided that they were well-paid and highly respected for their contribution to the property's success.Best Large Property Addition: How do you make the best even better? How do you differentiate a seemingly generic element of your guest offering? The ARIA Resort & Casino added a Concierge Lounge as a mezzanine club tucked away from the hubbub of the casino floor with great buffet food offerings. Presented as an add-on to all guests, the lounge is still centrally located and open through most of the day. The facility is an example of how hotels learn from other industries; in this case, the airport business lounge.Best Renovation: Capping a multi-year property renovation, the Boston Harbor Hotel converted an area that was essentially pre-function space into their new Presidential Suite. With a spectacular harbor view, custom furnishings, massive chandeliers, public spaces and private chambers, the suite combines a feeling for the city with understated modern elegance. Importantly, the facility will add good revenue into a very competitive marketplace.Best Convention Hotel: Is it a myth that everything in Texas is bigger? At the Fairmont Austin, the convention space is clear proof. This property's meeting space is, well, enormous, particularly considering the hotel is adjacent to the convention center with a futuristic pedestrian bridge directly linking the two. But it's not just the size of the ballrooms and ancillary space that makes this my selection as convention king. This property understands how to make meetings perform with a well-honed team.Property of the Year: This pinnacle award goes to the QT Hotel in Sydney, Australia. Built from a converted movie theatre, everything about this property puts into question the definition of what defines a hotel. Any supposed lifestyle-property should take note. Apart from slick decor, the appropriately costumed staff resemble actors who enjoy their craft. Every aspect of the facility is unique and memorable, with the main restaurant, Gowings, offering an exceptional fluid space that seamlessly transforms from quiet breakfast abode to a buzzy downtown happy hour lounge. It all works famously. So good in fact that I'd recommend hoteliers take a trip down under because if all hotels were this good, there would be nothing to fear from the sharing economy!

Evaluating Housekeeping in Minutes per Room

Hotel Mogel Consulting Limited ·21 February 2019
While you may know your operations so thoroughly that you can trust your intuition to prudently guide your next move, we have now found ourselves in the age of measurement and analytics, letting us fall back on the data to make sound inferences to hone each and every task.Just as you would evaluate your rooms in terms of RevPAR or your guests in terms of RevPAG, there's another metric for your housekeeping department that can help give a reliable snapshot of the current state and where improvements are needed. As many executive housekeepers and management companies that already use this calculation can tell you, by looking at it in terms of minutes per occupied room (MinPOR), you can then use this figure as a means to curb salaried labor costs.While I've long since known about this specific methodology, I was inspired to revisit it after seeing all the new housekeeping optimization and training platforms now available. Without going too far off topic by discussing any particular vendor, the first matter to discuss is why this metric is so important.Playing with the NumbersPlugging in some actual numbers helps to illustrate how MinPOR can best be leveraged. However, as star ratings affect brand standards and what's involved in cleaning any individual room or suite according to SOPs- and not to mention that there's a vast spectrum of property sizes - let's use ranges instead of definite integers for the calculations below.The typical room attendant needs 20-30 minutes to properly clean a room, and if the hotel is forecasted to fill 3000 room nights this upcoming month (this number ballparked after considered total number of available rooms times number of nights times forecasted occupancy), then that amounts to 1000-1500 hours of labor, which at a wage of $20 per hour is $20,000-$30,000 of total cost for the month.For reference, this hourly pay was used because it's a nice, round figure, although actual compensation can be even higher. Wages, of course, depend on numerous factors such as minimum wage regulations for a given state or province, union stipulations (which also affect how credits are disbursed and how many credits a housekeeper is allowed to collect during a given shift), general labor supply in a territory and many others.Where MinPOR becomes instrumental for cost savings is when you actively try to reduce this metric in order to subsequently shave hours off of total labor required. In this case, finding ways to bring this hotel's MinPOR down by only two minutes would result in 100 hours of labor, or $2,000 (based upon the rounded $20 per hour wage), saved for the upcoming month alone.While not earth-shattering, this 'one hundred hours' could nevertheless represent several entire shifts no longer necessary for that month. Gaining that sort of flexibility in time management can result in, for instance, not having to scramble when short-staffed, not having to dip into any particular staff member's overtime wage allotment and not having to double-shift someone in order to compensate for another associate on sick leave.Such flexibility also has a softer advantage in that it can increase overall team morale, and thus help to prevent high turnover, because employees don't feel overworked and there's enough buffer so they can take more time off when it best suits them. Then when you utilize housekeeping management software, you can merge your MinPOR calculations in with other means of heightened productivity such as more efficient room prioritizing and faster coordination with the designated room inspector.How to Reduce MinPORWith labor as the costliest factor in cleaning a room, shaving even a single minute off your property's MinPOR is a big win. When first investigating your options in this regard, I would advise setting up a mock guestroom or taking an active role in supervising the cleaning of a room so that every action can be recorded and every sequence of movements appraised.What specific aspects of the room are taking the most time to clean? How many times does the room attendant have to walk back to the cart to grab another item? Is that the fastest technique for dressing the bed? Why does that type of shower take so long to properly clean?Asking these sorts of questions - both large and small - help to break down the procedure in its constituent parts so that you can find what the biggest obstacles are. Oftentimes, the solution will be rather straightforward such as reducing the number of cleaning products used by housekeepers so they have to walk back to the cart as frequently and so they aren't carrying as much in the first place.Other times, though, the best answer has nothing to do with the room attendants themselves and lies in the replacing a few of the soft and hard goods. This, of course, will be different for each property, and it may require some difficult decisions as to whether a certain room feature is worth keeping relative to the effort it takes to clean. To help make these sorts of verdicts, you can weigh your hourly savings derived from the lowered MinPOR against the breakeven point for any capital expenditures.Training is CriticalOne drawback of attempting to derive cost savings purely from a MinPOR point of view is that it may result in many room attendants feeling as though they have a noose around their necks. Feeling the pressure to meet a specified time allotment per room, they may start cutting corners and fail to address all SOPs or start using improper cleaning techniques and accrue chronic injuries as a result.While both aren't desirable, the former is cause for particular concern because it may directly lead to lower guest satisfaction or, worse, a guest posting a negative comment about room cleanliness on a website like TripAdvisor. As you well know, negative review scores can have substantial ripple effects in terms of how many future customers book with you and how your brand is perceived, so this is something that must be addressed from the outset of any MinPOR discussions. Chronic or musculoskeletal injuries, on the other hand, are more of a lurking, long-term issue, but still one to be fully cognizant of such illnesses may result in disability leave, lower morale or greater turnover.For all such drawbacks, you must address each with specific and ongoing training. The adage of "You can't teach an old dog new tricks" has a lot of truth to it here in that, once habits have formed, it takes a sizably greater commitment to rewrite those movement patterns or behaviors.Hence, no changes to the room cleaning procedure should be executed without a program in place for properly retraining all team members along with a system of documentation and periodic reevaluation. Luckily, technology is to the rescue, specifically in the form of automated training programs that can cover the basics so you don't have to commit most of a supervisor or manager's time to oversee these efforts.Ultimately, though, if you are in fact able to setup a comprehensive training program that works in coordination with any activities designed to decrease MinPOR, then not only will you be able to realize significant cost savings, but you will mitigate any inherent and hidden expenses such as increased onboarding costs from higher turnover rates. As well, evaluating the housekeeping department solely in terms of this metric will give you optics to see what's truly meaningful to the guestroom experience to guide what new or branded additions are actually worthwhile.

The Intrinsic Value of Wellness and Training Seminars

Hotel Mogel Consulting Limited ·20 February 2019
One of the underlying movements within modern corporate culture has been to transform the place of work into that of a quasi-second home. Your fellow employees are not just mere colleagues, but friends and family that support your soul and not just your wallet.Just as the in-vogue trend of wellness for hotels - in the form of guest amenities, property features and other front-of-house initiatives - has helped to generate newfound awareness and affection for brands, so too can the introduction of wellness programs into the back-of-house framework demonstrate yet another progression towards this ideal of friends and family in the workplace.It's important to note at this point that much of this evolution has come about through necessity rather than purely through compassion. In our current labor pool-deficient market, the costs of losing good team members and having to find then train new associates are just too great to not invest in programs that help boost morale and prevent turnover.Seminars As IntroductionsWhile the general awareness amongst our peer groups for wellness is probably quite high - or at least above average - it is likely not nearly as well-understood for those who don't have the topic constantly popping up in their newsfeeds. For beginners, learning about things like nutrition, fitness, meditation and holistic healing can actually be quite intimidating as there's a wide range of information to take in at the outset.Hence, a great shoehorn for your associates into the vast expense of many diverse fields of knowledge under the banner of wellness is to organize an interactive seminar or fun group event. This way there's less pressure to learn a specific curriculum, which can do wonders for generating curiosity and motivation for team members to independently pursue healthier lifestyles.As it is often hard to integrate a dedicated wellness education in the weekly routine of a hotel given how hectic our work environments are and how little extra time we have, instead consider dedicated days or weeks where team members are given time off to attend wellness seminars - ones that you can even plan to host onsite. Held during off-peak periods and set up in a meeting space that hasn't been booked, these sessions might take the form of formal lectures on the subject, specific wellness activity training discussions, active exercise or ergonomic movement classes or fairs with booths from local vendors to browse at their convenience.While these are hard to organize, the intrinsic benefits are nonetheless there, albeit via mostly indirect means. A generally healthier team is more productive as it takes fewer sick days, has more positive moods and, to be specific for those jobs requiring lots of manual labor, is less prone to chronic injuries resulting from improper repetitive motions. Above all, actively promoting the ideals of wellness within your property will improve morale to in turn reduce turnover and all the costs associated with finding good new employees.Making It OngoingThe key to utilizing wellness to enhance your hotel's corporate culture is to not leave it as a one-off, but rather to integrate it into your annual training program. While a yearly or quarterly event can still laudable, it can only elicit cursory interest for the subject matter. There simply is to no substitute for daily or weekly training, especially when this education works to improve one's overall wellbeing.And this applies not just for any sessions you develop to teach your associates about wellness. Training for all topics pertinent to operating a property is undergoing its own transformation within the modern hotel corporate culture. Notably, we are shifting to a microlearning environment whereby training is technology-enabled and designed for associates to absorb information in bite-sized chunks at whatever time is most opportune for them.While group seminars are sound introductory tools and great for teambuilding, they are, in essence, the icing on the cake. Any punctuated event must be reinforced through ongoing programs and recurrent assessments in order for the knowledge and shifts in attitude to stick. And this applies for what you teach about wellness as well as practically everything else.While perusing the aisles at HITEC Houston in late June 2017, I had a delightful conversation on this topic with Roderick ten Wolde, CEO of Novility (www.novility.com), a provider of interactive training solutions for frontline hotel staff, housekeepers and other back-of-house workers.During our follow-up interview, he keenly added that, "No matter where a hotel is in the world, training is the heart of its success. While the current wellness trend can definitely heighten the guest experience, if your staff aren't completing their tasks properly then none of these efforts will matter. Constant training must be a core part of a hotel's culture."Just as wellness involves the pursuit of a holistically better way of living, any initiatives you undertake must likewise be comprehensive in nature for them to be effective. As I see it, ongoing training underpins any healthy corporate culture, and team wellness is but one beneficial offshoot from that. Seminars and any other activities you set up to engage your team must ultimately be layered on top of concrete training regimens.

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.

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