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  • New Global Directors Join the 2018-2019 HFTP Board

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  • Introducing 'Your HFTP': An Updated Online Interface for HFTP Members

    HFTP is excited to announce the newly updated “Your HFTP” online account portal. “Your HFTP” allows you to successfully manage your HFTP membership online. This refreshed online interface looks and feels just like the HFTP website and (better yet) is mobile-responsive.

Beware the True CapEx of IoT

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

Why Outsourcing Hotel Staff Doesn't Always Work

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

How Can Restaurants Adapt to Modern Dietary Quirks

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

The Imminent Hotel Labor Crunch

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

Ongoing Training is the New Normal

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

The Need for True Careers in Housekeeping

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

Growing Wellness Revenues in Four Quadrants

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

Adjusting to a Hotel Labor Shortage

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

How Does Your Restaurant Account for Allergies

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

Staying Aware of New Housekeeping Legislations

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

Where Should Staff Live For Remote Resorts?

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

Continuing the Post-Stay Relationship

Hotel Mogel Consulting Limited ·20 September 2018
How do you spur past guests to return to your property or, at the very least, interact with a member of your team after they've left? Nowadays, the extent of most hotels' post-stay communications with customers pertains only to generic templated emails and hardly ever a phone call or a handwritten note.As this is the new normal, any property that breaks away from this mold will be much more likely at getting a lasting impression. And so, a recent UPS delivery brought an unexpected surprise - a package for my wife from a small property in Newfoundland called Fogo Island Inn that we thoroughly enjoyed.While examining the box, my mind wandered. Did we forget something in the room? Doubtful, as our stay there was in the spring of 2016, and I don't recall anything amiss following that trip. Was it something my wife ordered from the hotel's online store? A quick holler-out to my spouse elicited a negative. So, what was it and why was she getting this delivery?Opening the shipping box, revealed a simple card. Next, do you have any idea what a 'Fluevog' is? Opening the package, we found these rather unusual boots, called after their namesake designer. The color motif was unique to the property, and all pairs are already long sold out.Naturally, an unexpected gift of this nature deserved a response. I contacted the property, not only to thank them, but also to learn some more about the program. In speaking with the receptionist on the other line, I learned that the program was targeted at visitors who stayed in their suites - only five of which actually are suites out of the total of 29 guestrooms. My wife's shoe size was duly recorded in the property's CRM when she donned raingear on our last day during our vacation there. The timing of the shoe distribution reflected their big data prediction that a past guest typically wants to revisit every three years.This is an example of a brilliant loyalty program that is also entirely modern. Its simplicity relies on levering CRM data to deliver a unique item that has perfect personalization - that is, it's expressive and unique to the resort while also incorporating the guest's shoe size.One may argue that, with Fogo Island Inn's small size and rates in excess of $1,000 per night, standard rules of hotel marketing don't apply. I beg to differ! This is an example of a hotel thinking differently.There is a world of ideas out there beyond simply running Google Adwords as a means to get more non-referral customers. As a start, how are you reminding your past guests and reinvigorating them to give you another try? Look at your data to gauge how long the average guest waits before returning as well as what time of year and how far out they usually book. From there, try sending out a token gift with a handwritten note and see what happens. Just another marketing trick of the trade!

Tackling a Kitchen Closure at the Falcon Hotel

Hotel Mogel Consulting Limited · 6 September 2018
Located on the Cornwall coast of England in the picturesque port of Bude is the quaint, 32-room Falcon Hotel which includes a single three-bedroom, self-catering apartment.To get there requires a two-hour train ride plus another hour by car from London. Similar to most other seasonal seaside resort properties, the Falcon has a short window from May through October to deliver a year's worth of profitability.The owner of this property, Rupert Brendon, is perhaps the most unlikely innkeeper you'll ever meet! Not a hotelier by education or experience.The Falcon was first established in 1798 and run by the Brendon Family for most of its over-two-centuries history. In 1979, following the death of his father, Rupert's family decided to sell the hotel while retaining the 10-bedroom inn attached to the hotel, which was renamed the Brendon Arms. Rupert was safely 'retired' from a 30-year stint as a CEO of a leading advertising agency, but always hankered to reacquire the hotel and reunite the two businesses, which he, his wife, Christine, and some family members achieved in April 2016.As Rupert puts it, "I either made the biggest mistake of my life or the best deal in the history of hoteldom, as I found myself (and my family) the fifth-generation owners of a hotel and an inn on the English Riviera."By his own admission, the property he purchased needed a hefty injection of both capital and energy. Not wasting any time, initial work focused on bringing the product up to code and safety standards. Coincidentally, new techniques were introduced to the staff who enthusiastically supported this changeover.The Falcon's business mix is and has always been heavily weighted towards food and beverage, with both restaurants and catering bearing equal importance. Accordingly, in the early part of this year, a major investment was undertaken to renovate the kitchen. Work was completed just prior to the start of what was to be a glorious summer season.Then disaster struck. After just six months of operation, the kitchen extraction system overheated, allowing fumes to seep into the rooms above. While a major fire was avoided, a redesign of the kitchen along with a rebuild of an entirely new extraction system was required. This necessitated a replacement of the canopy and fire-boarding of the ceiling, not to mention the additional cleaning and retesting. The entire process from forensic fire department analysis to installation and from safety checks to restart was optimistically estimated to take four to five weeks.Rupert had lost his kitchen during peak season, though. With F&B representing 75% of the Falcon's business, offering no onsite food was not an option. It would spell both disaster for the bottom line as well as for long-term guest retention.During the first week of this snafu, the hotel provided its overnight guests with a buffet breakfast, but no daytime or evening meals, which forced these patrons to eat offsite. The Falcon's insurance adjusters wanted the kitchen back up and running as soon as possible, though, in order to reduce its claim for business losses. As such, they suggested a temporary kitchen in a marquee."We had many upcoming functions booked including three local high school proms, which once cancelled may never have returned," added Rupert. During this panic, the Falcon's senior team searched and found kitchens in trailers that were originally developed and shipped overseas during the war in Bosnia. Peter Gorton (www.petergortonchef.co.uk), chef consultant to the Falcon, remarked that, "The trailer solution was made possible because the Falcon's dry goods store, walk-in fridge/freezer and a small prep area were all intact and still usable."Two days after delivery, the Falcon's F&B was operational with till register orders being printed in the kitchen. Head Chef Aaron Vanstone chimed in that, "With a kitchen half the size, we had to pare back the menu and eliminate items that were too time consuming to prepare".With an estimated downturn in F&B revenues of only 25%-35%, the sales from reduced menu still more than compensate for the rental fee of nearly PS300 per day."While less than perfect, it's impressive to see how fast we adapted," Rupert added. "We believe the costs of the mobile kitchen are fully covered by our loss of earnings insurance. A case of Murphy's Law, I guess, as we had just launched our new upscale brasserie-style menu two days earlier."While it's still too early to say for certain what the long-term impact will be, most comments from the guests have been thoroughly positive as the hotel has gone out of its way to ensure that their experience isn't compromised. One of the only issues has been that the Falcon had to place the mobile kitchen near the front entrance and not completely out of sight so that it could stay relatively close to all the other F&B operations for proper food preparation.At one point, Rupert was considering a second mobile kitchen, but the hotel lacked the space to park a second one out front, lest guests be unable to maneuver their cars, not to mention the galling sight of two trailers juxtaposed against a grand countryside hotel facade.A quick search on Google revealed numerous temporary kitchen rentals, so there is a good chance that there is a local supplier near you just in case you also find yourself in a prickly situation. But don't wait for the unthinkable to happen! Scout out what you might need, who can deliver it and how you could implement this program. You want to be prepared for any eventuality and the closure of a kitchen is definitely a crippling scenario that needs to be mapped out in advance.

How To Fundamentally Reinvent A Hotel

Hotel Mogel Consulting Limited ·30 August 2018
While the recent worldwide statistics for the hotel industry tend to present an 'all is well' analysis, my belief is that the true situation is quite another story. In this age of disruption, we are being challenged on multiple fronts for the hearts and minds of our consumers.We can longer myopically think that such factors like the growth of the home sharing economy have not had an effect on our businesses. Look no further than the detailed macro-statistics on year-over-year delta RevPAR and rate stagnations. Rather than hellfire and brimstone, you should be glad to see such changes come as they are in my mind long overdue and, as they say, necessity is the mother of invention.At this time, you must look for what will help your property sustain its competitiveness in a world where consumers have options beyond the traditional hotel. Your mission is to ensure that they will continue to consider your property as a viable option, even as boatloads of newer and trendier accommodation options present themselves.The first and most fundamental step to reinventing your hotel is to no longer think of it as just heads in beds. You must reorient your mentality towards viewing your property as a place where both travelers and locals like to congregate. In effect, how can you make your property a destination in and unto itself?In this sense, you must create an experience so that your hotel is no longer interchangeable with any other in your comp set. There is always that elusive 'x factor' to distinguish you and to add another emotional driver so you are never solely competing on price.As a thought exercise, consider modeling yourself after an all-inclusive resort, considering how you can keep your guests interested in staying on property for 24 hours a day. This task is simpler on a resort with a pool, a beach, sports facilities or nearby hiking trails. Nonetheless, there are fascinating amenities that are emerging for midtown hotels that emulate this ideal - look no further than the 'living room' concept.Hotels will survive the age of disruption by diversifying their appeal to various stakeholders. Guests come to stay, to dine and to meet. Members of the community must likewise come to recognize your property as an abode for social mingling and for exquisite yet approachable cuisine. What about the pastime of shopping and the delivery of unique retail options that are unavailable elsewhere in your locale? Moreover, have you ever considered transforming a part of your hotel into a flexible collaborative space that can accommodate the modern, portable, 24/7 worker? Lastly, how can your hotel become a bastion of learning for the greater community? Just a few thoughts to consider.Altogether, this means changing the paradigm as to how we look at all of the public spaces within the property and how they might become multifunctional. We have to stop looking at the profitability of every single square foot and instead look at how our rooms can be better utilized to build the overall profitability through social amplification.A true dialogue is needed to get the hotel revolution underway. To fundamentally reinvent your hotel, you must reinvigorate your efforts to foster a community environment.

In Vino Veritas LXVI: Olives And Other Accompaniments

Hotel Mogel Consulting Limited ·17 August 2018
We are, after all, emotional beings and no experience occurs in a vacuum. As such, the taste and enjoyment of a particular glass of wine is not only influenced by the blend of various grape varietals and the liquid's color or smell but also the glass it's served in, the bottle it's poured from, the table setting, the company you keep, the setting in which it's enjoyed and, of course, the food it's paired with.While every hotelier understands the basic principle of food and wine pairings, I've seldom seen anyone aside from executive chefs, sommeliers and F&B directors who wholly embrace the potential for one to augment the other and help to drive meal satisfaction as well as incremental purchases. Maybe that's why these individuals reach the top of the ladder, but nevertheless it's our job as senior managers to pay that knowledge and passion forward to the entire team so they can in turn communicate that to your patrons.I'll leave the actual meal pairings to your diligent culinary team as these require a much more substantial conversation (and indeed, many lengthy books have been written on the matter). For now, let's focus on snacks - or in more sophisticated terms, 'meal accompaniments' - and how they might influence a guest's overall satisfaction with their beverage selection and perhaps entice them to try something that's a tad pricier.I specifically reference olives because, aside from cheese, they are the most traditional nosh to accompany an aperitivo and also because our current society is on the cusp of understanding, just like wine, how diverse olives truly are. If you think in terms of the overall ambiance with which you present your liquor selection, would you present any old bowl of olives, or would you opt to offer your customers a platter with their choice of three different cultivars such as kalamata, nicoise or manzanilla?Simply including the named modifier or place of origin in the description (either on the menu or communicated verbally) might be enough to convince many patrons of the food's greater quality, thus substantiating a higher price point.Similarly, the same applies to nearly any other snack you might serve. Ask any chef or foodie - an olive is never just an olive; a tomato is never just a tomato; a cracker is never just a cracker. Over the past year, I've noted the proliferation of elaborate classifications on menus for cured meats, vegetables, fruits, nuts, legumes, honeys, sauces and just about any other edible material you can put in your mouth.The lesson here is that we now live in an era of endless food localization as well as specialization. As such, you must be conscious of where you source every ingredient your kitchen uses while also looking for subtle points of differentiation that may already exist within any given food category. And with any luck, guests will enjoy your heightened 'sense of specificity', thereby rewarding you with their patronage and increased alcohol sales per turn. Start with olives and then see what happens.

A Digital Detox Near You

Hotel Mogel Consulting Limited ·16 August 2018
Are you old enough to recall the excitement over the debut of the first Blackberry and its speedy texting system at the dawn of the new millennium? It was quite the revolutionary and addictive feature, so much so that today we may be taking a short messaging service (SMS) like this for granted as our minds are constantly distracted by one of many quotidian ways that we use on our mobile phones.With social media, texting, emails, forum threads and a myriad of other notifications pinging your phones every minute, has the need to stay constantly connected via our electronic devices usurped our need for proper and personal business relationships?Recently I was invited to attend a weekly executive committee meeting where the GM asked me to present to the group on my secret shopper observations from a weekend's stay, and then to stick around afterwards to audit the leadership team's participation. Over the course of only an hour, it was clear to me that the group's attention was hampered by individuals glancing at their devices subtly placed nearby. Are these folks so important that they can't sequester themselves away from their phones for at least 60 minutes to go through matters that could have a profound impact on their jobs?A possible solution to this prevalent social problem presented itself was I visited Lake Austin Spa Resort tucked away outside of Austin, Texas. In our room was a small cotton bag with the line, "Let your cell phone sleep. Hear the beauty around you." The idea was to use this short stay to break the bonds of being on the beck and call of your mobile device. The spa itself also politely encouraged you to leave your cellular in your room.At first, I thought this to be overly intrusive. But just as an individual sheds his or her outer layers when journeying to the beach, giving up your mobile has a similarly liberating effect. You are then forced to rekindle your relationship with your natural surroundings, rather than hiding in your own thoughts while concentrating on responding to some remote request.On checkout, I had easily survived 48 hours without my iPhone. Next, I looked at the hundreds of texts, emails, LinkedIn and Facebook notifications that had been accumulating during my absence and awaiting my response. None were urgent or all that relevant. The resort, it seemed, had weaned me off the dangerous habit of being continually hooked to the communications pipeline.It is not hard to see such 'digital detox' nudges or programs becoming relatively popular in the coming years. But to apply this to your own regimens or to your property is not going to be easy. We are in a service business. Our culture demands that we be available for our guests at all times, and mobile communications afford us this capability.So, start small and start internally. Let everyone know that their cell phones are not allowed in weekly planning meetings, even when put on silent or vibrate mode. Next, ensure that you set an example by, say, switching your phone off when dining or meeting with a guest, including contractors and suppliers. Reduce the number of times you look at your device so that you are in control rather than the notifications. When working away at your desktop, switch off SMS and set your computer to check for incoming emails only once every 15 to 30 minutes instead of continually.It is not going to be easy, but you'll appreciate the freedom. Then once you have improved or, dare I say, mastered the art of weaning your team off their cellular addictions, look to what you can do to help your guests in this regard.It doesn't have to be as drastic as making everywhere on property except the guestrooms a mobile-free zone. You can start with specific areas like the spa and perhaps one lounge or restaurant. Gauge the response as for all you know this attitude can garner a new audience you never knew you had.

The Emotional Impact of Overpriced In-Room Bottled Water

Hotel Mogel Consulting Limited · 9 August 2018
I am constantly perplexed at the continued reluctance of hoteliers to recognize activities that truly are unbecoming unbearable for guests. In this case, I am referring to our proclivity towards affixing outrageous prices to such basic amenities as bottled water.In a recent stay at a well-known chain property, my first vision upon entering was a largish bottle of water with the outrageous price tag of $7 (plus tax, of course). Most travelers look at this and, subconsciously reflecting on this number, conclude the following:Why is this bottle $7 when I can buy it in the supermarket $1? (a simple mental math comparison to a familiar price)Does this hotel think I am stupid enough to buy it at this price?What other ways is the hotel going to try and rip me off?This doesn't make any sense and I probably won't stay here again.Whereas I'm sure that the bean counters at corporate are delighted to offer their owners another income stream that heavily offsets its costs and I'm sure they are able to wax poetic on how the high price is justified, the practice runs counter to our fundamental role as hosts.What you really should be saying is something along the lines of, "Hydration is important and we care about your health. Have some water with our compliments."If you are one of the offending hoteliers or executives pushing water at ridiculous prices (and you know who you are!), feel free to respond to this plaintive cry in this column with your own excuses explanations for why this highway robbery is permissible at your property.With a new cadre of competitors emerging every year, you cannot afford to lose any guests from such easily fixable, yet also highly emotionally charged, matters. Practices such as these will only continue to foster further resentment and conversion away from traditional hotels, and you cannot let such trivial issues become insurmountable barriers to success.

Oracle and the Loyalty Divide

Hotel Mogel Consulting Limited · 2 August 2018
Stemming from this conference, the company's hospitality division has released a new white paper addressing some of the ways modern travelers' purchasing and loyalty habits are changing as well as what hotels can do to take advantage of the findings. Please note that while Oracle's strategic position is formidable, there are many other PMS solutions available to hoteliers and this posting should not be construed as an endorsement of one system over any other.During a brief interview with Laura Calin, Vice President of Solutions and Strategy for Oracle Hospitality, it was made clear that the company's primary goal is to help improve and personalize the guest experience. To accomplish this, as a software solutions provider, Oracle is actively working to increase data connectivity through its open API technologies and building systems with adaptive intelligence, otherwise known as machine learning.Armed with more data, enriched guest profiles and heightened inference tools, hoteliers can then make better-informed decisions about how best to service their customers, especially when combined with Oracle's new simplified dashboard to give frontline staff immediate access to actionable intelligence. When faced with a mounting loyalty challenge, hoteliers must now wield all the data at their disposal to craft highly personalized experiences in order to convert indirect to direct bookings and to derive advocacy from an increasingly fickle audience.Where the divide comes into play is in how hotels perceive travelers versus what the latter group is actually saying. Based upon a survey of some 13,000 consumers across nine countries, the study reveals that guests are in fact quite discerning when it comes to joining a loyalty program, with three-quarters stating that they rarely sign up or only do so when it's highly relevant. Moreover, just over one-fifth of guests believe that hotel offerings are mostly relevant to them while another two-fifths claiming that hotel offerings are rarely pertinent to their travel goals.In other words, we aren't listening to our guests enough, nor are using what's been said and what's been purchased to hone our products to meet this new consumer paradigm.Interestingly, the study also highlights the rise of social advocacy as playing a dominant role in travel behavior. Over half of travelers will scrutinize a brand's social presence before buying while just under 50% will publicly support a hotel on social media in exchange for a reward. And speaking of loyalty programs, three-quarters of those surveyed prefer immediate benefits over accumulating points, frequent rewards that are not dependent on earning points and systems that tailor future offers to customers based upon past acceptances or rejections.My takeaway from this is that hotels must first fully integrate their rewards programs into their CRMs so that we not only know our guests better but can give them exactly what they want in order to keep them loyal, or at the very least offer them something that's actually appealing.Central to the white paper were four modern traveler archetypes that Oracle derived from these statistics and for you to take note so you can adjust your marketing efforts accordingly.Broadcaster: more likely to rave about a great hotel experience on social media; also motivated to do so by prospect of rewards or improved online statusEnthusiast: drawn to exceptional service and amenities; likes to fully engage with a beloved brand by experiencing all that it has to offerLazy Loyal: follows a 'better the devil you know' mentality; seeking features that streamline or automate hotel experienceSeeker: likes to shop around; price and personalized promotions are by far the dominant decision-making factorsWhile I'm not one to typically typecast customers according to a specific set of criteria, there are indeed some powerful observations here that can be utilized to enhance sales. Primarily, by integrating your guest profile history with your marketing systems, you can now customize your offers according to what you already know about a person or by asking a prospective consumer for a bit of personal information before suggesting a bespoke promotion. Next, this attitude should also be applied to your onsite experience where you now have the technological resources to design new features and retrofit existing ones so that they'll be appreciated by visitors.Above all, what we are talking about here is the personalization of the guest experience, from initial sales offer right through to checkout. For some hotels, taking the first step in this direction may be training your front desk staff to use the systems already in place so they are ready to greet guests by name. For others, it might mean a joint rewards program that offers onsite credits for social media posts. Whichever way you choose, PMS companies such as Oracle are going giving you the tools to unify all your disparate data points to make this possible.
Article by Larry Mogelonsky

HITEC 2018 Reveals the True Importance of Integration

Hotel Mogel Consulting Limited · 1 August 2018
HITEC this year took place in the hot and humid town of Houston, but the weather was never a deterrent for the 7,000 some odd attendees from all aspects of hospitality. Held during the third week of June, this foremost hospitality technology show was truly enlightening for where our industry is headed.As the convention starts to resemble the famed Consumer Electronic Show (CES) in breadth and scope, the good news this year is that software capabilities are becoming near-universal. Integrations are commonplace and vendors have taken on a 'spirit of partnership' where they recognize their strengths and know that their wares are only one part of a hotel's technology tool belt. If you didn't have the opportunity to attend last month, here's what you missed.Voice technology is at the forefront. Smart speakers are touted by numerous vendors offering different applications for an Amazon Echo or Google Home setup. Despite the obvious privacy concerns, anticipate further expansion of this technology into the realm of IoT room controls and concierge services.Property management systems continue to expand in scope and capabilities. The focus now is the full allowance of interconnectivity with specialized applications - rather than pursuing their own internal solutions - so that the hotelier has flexibility with how what software they deploy.Wireless automation has become mainstream as IoT starts to gain steam. Expect to see the decline of the keycard, replaced with apps that can also heatmap where guests are for property planning efficiency as well as offer a host of other integrated services, again through IoT setups.As LED monitors become more affordable, sharper, larger and brighter, there will be an even broader application of screens both indoors and outdoors. Digital signage will soon become more elaborate, durable and quite artful in its presentation.Then there's blockchain which still has vast potential for loyalty program partnerships as well as reducing the costs associated with transactional data intermediaries. While this is still five years out from a proper rollout, you would be wise to start reading up on how it works now.See you in Minneapolis June 17-20 for HITEC 2019.

HVAC from Hell

Hotel Mogel Consulting Limited ·30 July 2018
The feeling of a room can have a highly emotional impact on a visitor, after all, especially when the space is too cold or too hot and the climate controls are intransigent to change. It is very irritating to put it lightly. First, though, some examples are in order to help demonstrate this point and how HVAC issues can destroy an otherwise great hotel experience.First, staying at a luxury hotel in Madrid, the suite was opulent and impressive. While the bedroom was exceptionally comfortable with Frette linens coupled with a fabulous mattress, sleep was not forthcoming as it was impossible to set the temperature below 30C. My only option to reduce the temperature was to open the window and suffer through the street noise blasting up from below. Because it was winter at the time, this fenestrate tactic worked until it was too cold and I had to get up once more to close the window.With this hot-cold cycle repeating every night, it affected my sleep to the point where no other positive aspect about the host property could be properly appreciated. I'm sure you are all familiar with the grumpiness and general malaise that follows on the day after a sleepless night. It's a state of mind that has a natural tendency to think glass half full instead of the other way around, and as such there was nothing that the hotel could do to redeem itself in lieu of a perfectly functional HVAC system.Next, a high-level resort property in the Caribbean was serviced by below-the-window air conditioning units. While the air distributed by the system was indeed cold, the sound level from the mechanical parts was akin to that of a jet engine. And just when you got used to a particular volume and rhythm, you were woken back up by the thermostat clicking on at an even higher decibel level. The workaround I devised was to super-cool the room during dinner, then shut off the system just before bed. Given the tropical climate, though, I received about four hours of sleep before the heat build up necessitated cranking the system up again.The third case was a recent weekend in Phoenix where I was staying at an exceptional property. The guestroom was tastefully Southwestern in style while the temperature controls were ideal with a consistent setting of 21C. However, there was so little humidity that I was getting up every hour to drink more water. Clearly, I was not used to the desert-like environment, so my ad hoc solution was to run a hot shower for a few minutes with the bathroom door open. While this did the trick, it is hard to rationalize the need for this activity when the daily rate was well in excess of $750 per night.In all of these cases, the expert work of designers, hoteliers and planners was almost for naught. Any hotel that does not deliver a good night's sleep to its guests is a failure!HVAC systems aren't for rookies. Older buildings are particularly complex, as the control systems are almost entirely mechanical with dated and often broken or inefficient parts. Often air conditioning and heating are separate systems. Humidification is another touchy issue that is rarely addressed in many operations.So, what can a hotelier do, save for a costly retrofit? First, speak to your engineering team and ensure that all systems are operating with maximum efficiency. Conduct maintenance as per manufacturer's recommended schedule. Replace any parts or systems that are past their best before date. Next, look at ways to reduce noise. Often with external units, there are sound deadening kits available that isolate vibration. Ask about multi-speed fans and compressors that have quieter start-ups.In climates that are dry, examine the addition of supplemental humidification units, available as either built-in or portable, albeit the latter is slightly less elegant. If not in the room when the guest arrives, these units should be identified as available at the front desk at check-in or ready for the maintenance team to deploy by request.Remember the mantra that a guest that does not get a good night's sleep will never be a repeat guest. So, above all, ask your customers how their sleep was. Get firsthand feedback and when a problem arises be sure to act swiftly to remedy the situation.

The Reservations Game And Cancellation Policies

Hotel Mogel Consulting Limited ·27 July 2018
Many high-demand resorts will debit their guests' credit cards for one night's stay upon booking, with the balance often due 30 days in advance of arrival. Other policies can work as well, but the bottom line is that these cancellation fees are incredibly important to ensure that hoteliers aren't taken advantage of.And indeed, most guests understand these payment terms. They realize that holding a room effectively precludes said establishment from selling it to another customer. Ergo, there is an intrinsic value in that reservation and it must be treated accordingly.The question then is how far do you go with your cancellation policy? Or to put it more bluntly, what can your brand get away with?On a recent trip to Napa Valley, I planned my stay to include the top local restaurants. I was not overly surprised that the scheduled meal at the French Laundry (Thomas Keller's masterpiece) required 100% prepayment. After all, with space booked solid six months in advance and not very many spaces at that, this is only logical. Moreover, I was equally unfazed when several other haute cuisine establishments in the region requested cancellation fees of $100 per person for a no-show without 24-hour notice.To explain it on the abstract level, hotels and restaurants share the same 'fragile' time-based inventory - that is, once an evening has passed, an unsold bed or restaurant table is forfeit even though the physical object still exists and is available for future use.The same is true to a certain extent for car rentals, movie theatres, event spaces and nearly every other product sold with time-sensitive parameters. In the case of car rental firms, their approach has been to offer a discounted prepayment rate, while still allowing those who wish to pay at the end of their usage period to do just that. Perhaps the reason they have elected not to follow hotels (and some restaurants) is that outside of price and loyalty bonuses, there is little to no differentiation between the various rental car brands.Circling back to the restaurant trade, there are a number of powerful online reservation platforms like OpenTable that facilitate the processing of prepaid deposits without any complex coding or customization. Thus, in an F&B capacity there should be no technical barrier that would prevent you from considering this tactical approach, one that may earn you a bit more revenues as well as save your team a few headaches.Without doing any quantitative research, I'll wager that all hoteliers would like to minimize all no-shows. The question is whether restaurant patrons or hotel guests would look at these forms of upfront charges as an additional barrier to booking. If you have a high-demand, high-impact property or restaurant, would you consider a non-refundable deposit on reservations or a fee for cancellations? If so, then the next step is to develop your product so it is perceived as having enough clout to command such a policy.

Enhancing Your Coffee Service With Ten Tips

Hotel Mogel Consulting Limited ·26 July 2018
To witness this evolution, look no further than guests' expectations for a property's in-room coffee and tea service. Within the past decade, we've seen a migration from metal foil sachets, to Keurig, Nespresso and a host of other machines capable of delivering a more flavorful and bespoke experience. Complementing this, most hotel restaurants offer barista levels of services with cappuccinos, lattes and espressos the norm along with a few custom creations in tune with the local market. Even basic by-the-gallon foodservice grinds like what you would find in a breakfast buffet are far better than they ever used to be.Thinking of coffee as more than just a direct - and highly profitable - revenue stream, it's also a point of pride for a hotel as well as a prominent contributor to a great guest experience. After all, what hotel wants to be known for having a lousy brew? What hotels want their past guests to shine them in a negative light because their coffee service was subpar?I've attended conferences where the coffee was so awful that delegates were slipping out to the Starbucks in the lobby. While being average in this regard may have negligible impact either way, bad beverage service will be immediately noticed and have harmful effect. Contrarily, offering something exceptional may be enough to turn that four-star review on Tripadvisor into a five.Look at improving your coffee as just another way of building your reputation as the best property in your trading area. With so much at stake for this often-overlooked aspect of your food and beverage operations, here are ten new rules for coffee in your establishment.Recognize coffee is critical to your property's success in all its forms and at all your venues. No one cares if you don't have an incumbent coffee culture - your guests do and that's what's important.Taste the coffee in your restaurant and catering venues. If your local McCafe or Starbucks is better, you've got a problem.Coffee cannot be reheated - 30 minutes from the time it was brewed is all you have before the flavor profile is irreversible sullied.With a Keureg or Nespresso, you've got a way to give guests a great start to their day for about a hundred bucks a room. Yes, the coffee capsules have a markedly higher cost. Suck it up and find cost savings elsewhere.All your restaurant outlets should offer more than just coffee. Machinery to produce espresso-based drinks is inexpensive and, with proper training, easy to use.Clean all your coffee equipment daily at a minimum so that the repugnant soot never builds up. Check brewing temperatures as well, as this can increase the 'burnt' taste profile of the end product in addition to alter the sugars in milk.Experiment with different suppliers. Taste samples early in the day and ask your staff members for their opinion, too. Coffee selection and menu additions can be a good opportunity for team participation.While I don't drink decaffeinated products often, there has been a marked improvement in their processing. For this, you must ensure that your 'low test' matches 'high test' in quality.While you're evaluating your coffee service, broaden your search for differentiating your property by examining the aesthetics of the overall experience - mugs, cups, saucers, serving utensils, room decor, menu design and nearly anything else to boost the ambiance. See what your budget can spare for something out of the ordinary.Having sat through numerous budget, procurement and operational meetings, I've never heard a controller complain that too much was being spent on coffee!

Staying Aware of New Housekeeping Legislation

Hotel Mogel Consulting Limited ·25 July 2018
The housekeeping department more often than not represents the heart of a hotel's operations as a clean room is an essential part of guest service delivery. Moreover, it's backbreaking work with wages that aren't exceedingly high, while the room attendants themselves can be put in compromising situations as they roam the corridors by themselves.It would appear, though, that labor unions throughout the United States are starting to gain ground with new legislation in several territories that mandate enhanced protocols for housekeepers' safety. Given this momentum, no matter your municipality, state or country, you would be wise to keep track of these new laws and preemptively make the necessary changes to your operations so that you don't have to play the costlier catch up game later on.On the one hand are the now-required panic buttons for room attendants, most prominently coming into effect for all hotels in Chicago and with rollouts in several other key cities. Given the way IoT technologies are progressing, equipping your entire team with small devices that can perform this function as well as integrate into your WiFi network should not be onerous. Plus, we're talking about mitigating a security risk, so everyone wins.More complex and comprehensive, California has just ratified a new law requiring specific training of housekeepers to help prevent the onset of musculoskeletal injuries as well as instructions on proper use of hazardous chemicals, all for the benefit of protecting workers from chronic medical conditions.These new programs must be specifically designed to help reduce the onset of bodily injuries through proper training for all employees, and all training must be recorded for the government to give its stamp of approval. Moreover, these regulations apply to outsourced labor - anyone who works on-property.All the mandated safety and training programs must be set up by October 2018 with hefty fines for hotels that are not compliant (roughly $13,000 USD per incidence for first-time offenders to $130,000 USD for willful or repeated violations).In terms of what's required for Californians, the core of this new legislation is the setup and enforcement of a musculoskeletal injury prevention program (MIPP). Starting with periodic evaluations of any potential onsite risks, hotels are also required to create a pervasive reporting structure for all occupational injuries as well as all steps taken to prevent onsite injuries.These MIPPs must involve extensive training of both the room attendants along with their supervisors on SOPs and proper ergonomic movements with annual retesting. Conducted in a language that the worker readily understands, everyone must now be educated and intermittently updated on the risk factors and symptoms of workplace injuries.Putting the housekeepers aside for a moment, an unhappy team can cause a serious disruption to the bottom line. A stressful environment means low morale which in turn means lower employee retention, pesky staffing issues and extra resources devoted to onboarding. Moreover, short-term disability leaves resulting from repetitive motion injuries (RMIs) or prolonged exposure to chemicals can also result in additional staffing problems, not to mention the possibility of insurance payouts.So, what can you do? As a start, you should monitor how events unfold in California and other territories where the panic button is now in effect over the next several months. With an aging workforce and more conclusive data to support labor unions' petitions across the nation, you may soon be compelled to act. From there, it would be prudent to investigate your options, then put in place your own panic button and MIPP equivalents as the benefits to your bottom line from having a healthier, safer workplace are clearer now than ever before.To read all the exact details and guidelines of this new law in California, go here: https://www.dir.ca.gov/oshsb/documents/Hotel-Housekeeping-Musculoskeletal-Injury-Prevention-proptxt.pdf
Article by Larry Mogelonsky

Top Issues And Solutions For Your Housekeeping Department

Hotel Mogel Consulting Limited ·20 July 2018
Although certainly not as flashy as a hospitality finance or technology convention, one of my favorite annual events is the Housekeepers Forum held every April here in my hometown of Toronto. With over 200 executive housekeepers, human resource managers and general managers in attendance from a variety of upscale and luxury properties around the city, this conference brings together the brightest minds in housekeeping to table the latest trends and issues then discuss how to fix these problems.The bottom line is that even with new technological introductions, many housekeeping departments are still run the same way they were three decades ago. My hope is that in reporting what was gleaned from this eventful day, we can all rally to give our room attendants the support they need and thereby alleviate any staffing woes you may be facing.No Longer FacelessA traditional outlook on room attendants was that they would be invisible to guests, working clandestinely to clean rooms and finish turndown service, and leaving the interaction side of things to other frontline staff. As the demand for mobile check-in increases, however, the front desk is losing some of its power to deepen the customer rapport, meaning that housekeepers are now acting as one of the only points of contact between visitors and the hotel.The effects of this trend play out in a few ways. Firstly, there is an increased need for the training of interaction skills so that room attendants can properly communicate with guests, especially in the country's native language for which members of this department may not be fluent. In tandem with this is the follow-up.That is, with guests increasingly making service requests directly to the housekeeper, that employee must have the proper tools to quickly relay that desire to the appropriate people. It's also a matter of 'guest intelligence' whereby simply asking visitors how they are feeling might elicit powerful information that can then be utilized to build profile data and deepen personalization.Nowhere are these language skills more important than for maintenance issues, though. Guests are hypersensitive to broken items, so engineering and housekeeping must be in constant contact. Of course, there are several prominent technology solutions to satisfy this internal communications need, but then the worry is over whether the room attendants will use it.As with any new hardware or software implementation, the solution must be incentivized in order for daily habits to form. This means that the executive housekeeper must first lead by example and inspire his or her team to utilize the new technology. Recently, however, gamification and rewards-based usage models are being deployed.Where technology can also give your department an upgrade is in route mapping to both streamline the time taken to reach rooms for cleaning as well as knowing when rooms are occupied so guests are never disturbed. Furthermore, with each new room feature that is put in place to satisfy the changing traveler demands - such as new ergonomic desks or wall-mounted swiveling flatscreens - there is a new SOP for the room attendant to follow, and yet the number of 'how to' guides are not keeping pace with these checklists. For this, new technologies can be harnessed to heighten the team's aptitude on all the new toys so no one ever feels overwhelmed.Career ProspectsOne primary reason for why your housekeeping department may be suffering from staffing shortages or high turnover rates stems directly from this 'faceless' persona in that the line of work is deemed as a job and not a career. For this, there are no quick fixes and it will require a thorough rethink about how you value all your employees and mentor them into leadership roles.Incentives are quite fruitful in this regard, both as small monetary rewards or other forms of prizes. Many managers remarked that oftentimes a star room attendant will help fill staffing deficiencies by recruiting his or her friends. However, this doesn't correct the overarching issue of a general lack of vertical advancement prospects for the individual housekeeper. Compounded with that, the majority of the team is sourced from the boomer population as millennials are by and large not attracted to this line of work, deeming it too arduous for too little pay.One proposed solution was to institute a rotational program whereby members of the housekeeping department would have the opportunity to shift to other operations after a certain number of months. This would give increased exposure to a variety of dynamic work environments while also ensuring that everyone understands the fundamental crucial role that housekeeping plays in any property.Even though it's already well-established for other aspects of a hotel, empowering your room attendants is a great motivational tool to keep them engaged. And this doesn't need to be anything grandiose. Instead, empowerment is best deployed for the small touches that can mean all the difference for a guest.For instance, if a room attendant notices that a guest is sick, he or she might ring down to the kitchen to have a bowl of soup brought up. Or if a guest is nearly out of toothpaste, the housekeeper should be authorized to offer a replacement. In essence, this is the old sales mantra of always giving a little bit extra. If guests complain that their in-room coffee wasn't replenished, then return with a full assortment of roasts for them to try. If a room attendant notices that a person's shirt is ripped or frayed, then leave a note that mentions your onsite laundry with mending services available.In this sense, empowerment works to give more responsibility to individual team members so that they feel as though their work is truly valued. Importantly, housekeepers must be made aware of how their extra effort pays off. Instead of only reacting to negative reviews that crop up online, also keep track of guest comments that specifically call out all the superb work that the team has done to make the guest experience all the more special. A little goes a long way, both for the customer as well as the employee.Lastly, to attack the career question head on, if you want to have a committed team, they need to know that there are opportunities to move up, both with increased responsibility and increased salary. When this subject was approached during the conference, one question that was posed was how many general managers started in housekeeping. After a consensus was reached with the answer being close to zero, the follow-up pertained to how could we ever hope to attract top talent if their career options are limited. Your organizational culture must support vertical advancement from within the housekeeping department - and all operations for that matter - if you are ever going to solve your staffing issues.Modern Service DeliveryDirectly linked to career advancement but with a guest-centric point of view, your housekeepers must play a critical role in elevating your service delivery to where it needs to be in order to impress the modern traveler. With millennials and centennials now representing the majority of consumers, you must adjust to what they want.As previously mentioned, any housekeeping or maintenance errors are deal breakers for these guests. Extremely wary of rooms that have been used by numerous other people, travelers nowadays may even inspect such hard-to-clean areas like under the bed or around the back of the nightstand. Moreover, they increasingly want fragrance-free rooms without the application of chemical cleaning products. Add to that a heightened sense of duty to the environment, and all these factors contribute to a drastically altered procedure for the housekeeping department should operate.On this latter point, room attendants are increasingly important for demonstrating to guests that the hotel takes sustainability practices seriously, frequently overlapping with new processes that decrease the amount of time it takes to clean a room. The first and most vital step is a waste audit which may reveal several prominent ways that housekeepers can help to meet this modern service expectation.Towel and linen recycling programs mean that housekeepers may not have to change the bed or give fresh towels every day, while transitioning from mini-bottles to dispensers likewise reduces the workload. Moreover, switching to organic cleaners often means using more versatile products thereby allowing you to cut the number of cleaners required, satisfying the fragrance-free crowd and decreasing what housekeepers have to carry around with them. Such little activities are significant because guests don't see all the large-scale back-of-end environmental improvements that you've made to your water or electrical systems.The Bottom LineAny way you slice it, this is still a numbers game. While I know that you value your team and you strive to treat them like family, there will always be the mandate to cut costs. One metric that helps to appropriate frame the issue is 'minutes per occupied room' whereby your goal is to minimize this number through a holistic investigation of every activity your housekeepers undertake.What you'll find, though, is that there's a high correlation between those actions you take to decrease this MinPOR figure and how engaged your team is. Lowered MinPOR means a reduced workload but it can only be attained by recruiting your housekeepers to help address the problem. And therein lies the real solution - get your team involved to answer the real questions and the cost savings will come.

New York ADR Dilemma

Hotel Mogel Consulting Limited ·18 July 2018
Like most every other role at a hotel, being an owner or investor has never been easy. This is perhaps nowhere more evident than in New York City where exorbitant construction costs mixed with steadily increasing wage rates, maintenance and depreciation can make the break-even point higher than practically any other locale on the continent. Thank goodness this is reflected in the average daily rates.Regrettably, the Big Apple may have a rotting core. Drawing from STR data, in 2017 the citywide ADR was $256 per night. This alone is no cause for alarm, until you compare it against the ADR posted for 2012 and 2013 which was $258 and $266 per night respectively.How could that be? Can you name another product or service that has anti-inflationary characteristics like this? I highly doubt a statistical fumble could account for such a nonnegligible drop. In this world-class destination with historic occupancies pretty much unchanged around 85%, there must be another series of events that have caused this market decline.As I always believe that the simplest answer is the most likely one, my hypothesis is that this all boils down to supply and demand - probably the first principle you learn in any economics class. Prices go up when demand exceeds supply and the reverse happens when supply outstrips demand. So, if prices are dropping - even if the year-over-year isn't immediately palpable - it would indicate that supply is increasing. But with hotel occupancies holding steady for the past for past five years, where is the extra supply coming from?Following this train of thought, next would be to review the number of rooms that have come onto the market. Based upon data from NYC & Company, there were about 116,000 rooms in the city as of the end of 2017. But with another 20,000 rooms expected to come on board in the next three years, why would a series of investors spend the necessary funds to bring this enormous batch of new inventory into a declining market?Looking for possible answers to this, my next thought is that hotels are starting to feel the effects of the home sharing economy, the largest provider therein being Airbnb. According to Inside Airbnb, as of April 2018 there were roughly 49,000 rooms as well as full residences available across the five boroughs. That works out to about 30% of the total room stock including traditional hotel properties as well as alternate lodgings.Obviously, this is not the only factor at work here. For instance, many hotels in New York City have started taking advantage of a local government-incentivized practice to house the homeless. Paying a flat $220 per night per room, it is now estimated that as much as 5% of the traditional rooms stock (about 5,500 guestrooms) have been taken out of the available 'visitor' inventory through this approach. However, reducing gross availability should, in theory, force up ADRs. Alas, this has not occurred which reinforces my conviction that we are seeing erosion due to the rapid proliferation of the home sharing economy.That's my hunch. Now I open this up for a broader debate. What's your hypothesis for this NYC ADR dilemma? On a more personal level, have alternate lodging providers impacted your bottom line?

Ten Tips to Boost Your Public Relations Efforts

Hotel Mogel Consulting Limited ·11 July 2018
Having recently attended this year's HITEC as a media representative, I was bombarded with hundreds of emails over the past few weeks from those interested in garnering just an ounce of my attention to have me publish their materials. How can any single release stand out?Thinking of all the hours that are spent by hotel managers and public relations agencies in preparing this material is mortifying, especially since 99% of these well-crafted pieces of literature will be trashed without the recipient ever getting beyond the headline. What a waste! Moving forward, as the general manager or director of communications, you must find a way to get a better return on your PR investments.When public relations works, it is a fantastic use of your financial resources. Too bad that most of the materials that get distributed so badly misses the mark. To this end, here are ten pointers that will greatly improve your PR news release program's efficacy.1. Work to a strategy, not a tactical plan. Your PR strategy should be based upon your product, services or people. Anyone who believes that a strategy is to distribute materials monthly, independent of content, has the cart before the horse!2. Each release must make sense to the reader. Assume nothing. The reader may not know where your property is located relative to geographic reference points or the unique selling points of what makes your hotel great. Similarly, don't even assume the reader knows the name of your property or its affiliation.3. The headline is more important than all the content that follows. Read the headline. If it does not encourage the reader to continue, hold the release until it does. Funny, catchy, poignant, witty, racy, current, political, timely or historic headlines - all can work when done right so try a few and torture test them with your internal test.4. A visual is critical. The saying, 'an image is worth a thousand words' rings true. Readers are far more interested in looking at the photo and will have a higher propensity to read what you have to say, particularly when the picture has a caption. However, more is not necessarily better. For example, a recently received release from a tourism bureau had ten different photos as well as text to accompany each. A single visual has meaning; multiples rarely enhance the communications.5. Brevity please! No one wants to read a 500-word editorial. No one has time! If the recipient is interested, he or she will respond to you for more information. Give them enough to whet their appetites. You have no need to distribute the entire story at once. As the top record for this week, I received a 1,837-word release. Is the sender seriously expecting anyone to read all of this? Would you?6. Personalize if you can. I am far more apt to look at an email if it starts with, 'Dear Larry' than one that has no personal introduction. Program your system accordingly.7. What are the next steps? Photos should have a download link and credits identified. A source for more information should include both a phone number and an email. If there is a FAM opportunity, then that too should be specified. Include general website links but also specific addresses to pages containing the most pertinent information.8. Vanity releases are annoying. Sorry, announcing the promotion of the assistant's assistant to the director of marketing is not a news release. In my mind, the only personnel that are worthy of a news release are the appointment of a general manager and the executive chef. Like the boy who cried wolf, choose your broadcasts wisely.9. Creativity counts. A snappy headline, great photo and a few paragraphs of well-written text is all that is needed. Sounds easy, but often this requires a lot more work than the usual regurgitation of the 'blather'.10. Encourage your PR agency to focus on results (quality) rather than quantity. I know your agency wants to demonstrate that they are working for you. They believe that sending out materials regularly will justify their fees. If you are hoodwinked by that tactic, then maybe they are not even charging you enough!

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