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Volume 20 – 2012

From The Editor

From the Editor – Vol. 20, No. 1 (January, February)

The first couple of months of 2012 have not been without suspense for the Lodging Industry. The ongoing saga of the revised Americans with Disabilities Act continues to affect hotels, especially with regards to the pool lift and access requirements. AH&LA continued to petition Congress and the Department of Justice (DOJ) first for clarification on and then for a delay to implementing the pool lift requirement. Literally at the 12th hour on the day all hotels were required to comply with the new mandates, the DOJ granted a 60 day extension for compliance.

Front Desk

Human sex trafficking in hotels is a major concern for hoteliers – Vol. 20, No. 1 (January, February)

Because of the transient nature of guests who utilize lodging accommodations and the privacy afforded to these temporary guests, hotels have become prime venues for the exploitation of “at risk” individuals through sexual exploitation and human trafficking. Check any newswire or perform an Internet search and stories of human trafficking and sexual exploitation invariably connect to or through hotels in some form. Not only is human sex trafficking slavery but it is big business. It is the fastest-growing business of organized crime and the third-largest criminal enterprise in the world. And it is this movement of victims from underdeveloped countries to more developed ones where hotels become initially exposed to sexual trafficking

Guest Services

ADA changes for pools, recreational facilities, and service animals are here – Vol. 20, No. 1 (January, February)

As of March 15, 2012 the 2010 Standards become mandatory for alterations, new construction, and barrier removal. Newly covered existing recreational elements must comply with the new standard unless compliance is not readily achievable. Existing hotel recreational elements that must comply with the new standards by March 15, 2012 include pools and spas, saunas and steam rooms, and exercise equipment and machines. This article discusses the new ADA requirements and presents visual diagrams for the pool requirements.

HouseKeeping

Housekeeping injuries: It’s time we talk about the elephant in the room – Vol. 20, No. 1 (January, February)

There’s an elephant in today’s hotel rooms that no one is really talking about. Over the past decade, hospitality providers have been engaged in an amenities and bedding competition and have taken drastic steps to remodel and revamp their suites and guestrooms to appeal to patrons desiring luxurious accommodations. Housekeepers, who clean 15-20 rooms a day under intense time pressures are being adversely affected by the heavier, more cumbersome mattresses which have more than doubled in weight and thickness over the last ten years. As a result, housekeepers and room attendants are now 48% more likely to be injured on the job and 51% more likely to incur a serious, disabling injury than that of the average worker in the service industry.

Human Resources

Résumé mistakes can reveal much about prospective employees – Vol. 20, No. 1 (January, February)

Résumés can be a great tool for hotel managers to get their first real glimpse at a potential hire. The way an applicant’s résumé is organized, the flow of information, and the way the information is shared can sometimes speak volumes about how the candidate will perform if they were hired. Not only does an error-free résumé illustrate an applicant’s ability to pay attention to detail, but it conveys the personal responsibility assumed by the applicant to present themselves to others for consideration in an unblemished manner. It signals that the applicant cares about how they are perceived by others. The best indicator of future behavior is past behavior. So the prudent hotel manager should carefully examine each applicant’s résumé for errors as part of the applicant review process.

Reservations

Top 5 reasons why hoteliers should add a guest review system to their website – Vol. 20, No. 1 (January, February)

Today’s travelers love to tout their experiences whenever and wherever possible. Whether they post their travel reviews on Facebook, Google+, TripAdvisor, Amazon.com, Yelp, or simply send an email to their universe of friends and colleagues, the bottom line is, good or bad, the information is going to get out. As hoteliers, the best possible way to stay aware of that content and control the hotel-to-guest relationship is to add an easy-to-use and extremely affordable Guest Review System directly onto their website.

Risk Management

Business interruption insurance: Keeping your hotel afloat while you fix what’s broke – Vol. 20, No. 1 (January, February)

Hotels rely upon property insurance to protect against the risk of property damage, from minor mishaps to the catastrophic damage caused by hurricanes, accidents and other unforeseen events. But in the aftermath of a disaster, hotels may face significant losses in revenue which are not directly related to costs incurred by fixing crumbling frescoes or a malfunctioning electrical system, but rather, arise out of the interruption of operations required to repair the damage. If and when this occurs, business interruption insurance may provide compensation for these losses.

First aid kits: A good idea – besides OSHA requires them – Vol. 20, No. 1 (January, February)

In 2010 there were almost 700,000 hotel associates employed in the industry. Over 35,000 associates experience OSHA recordable injuries that year. This does not include minor injuries not requiring medical attention. Each year millions of people become hotel guests. Unfortunately, a number of these sustain injuries while at the hotel or return to the hotel with an injury which may need minor medical attention. Many of these guests will expect or at least hope the hotel has first aid supplies to assist them. This article discusses where to locate first aid kits in a hotel and what items should be stocked in them.

Insert: First aid kit visual restocking and organization guide – Vol. 20, No. 1 (January, February)

This color visual illustrates the various items that that should comprise an OSHA-approved first aid kit for most workplace locations.

New CPR procedures are easy to use and encourage immediate response – Vol. 20, No. 1 (January, February)

Recently many health organizations, including the American Heart Association, the American Red Cross, and University of Arizona’s College of Medicine, have issued new guidelines encouraging the use of “Hands-Only” cardio-pulmonary resuscitation (CPR) for first responses to many instances of sudden cardiac arrest. Recent studies have shown that being trained in Hands-Only CPR can make the lifesaving difference when someone suffers sudden cardiac arrest. Hands-Only CPR is a potentially lifesaving technique involving no mouth to mouth contact; with Hands-Only CPR the responder does not give mouth-to-mouth breaths to the victim. The Hands-Only technique increases the likelihood of surviving cardiac emergencies that occur outside medical settings such as in hotels and restaurants.

Volume 19 – 2011

Ask Gail

Ask Gail: Should lone employees leave the front desk? – Vol. 19, No. 5 (November, December)

In this Ask Gail column, a night auditor who usually works alone inquires whether it is appropriate to leave a hotel’s front desk unattended in order to deliver items guests have requested to their hotel room. Arguments for safety and service are presented.

Where to learn what it takes to become a hotel concierge – Vol. 19, No. 2 (May, June)

In this Ask Gail article, a reader inquires where to find information on how to develop a concierge program at her hotel. Gail provides two authoritative sources of information and discusses the uniqueness of each.

Energy

Unusual, inexpensive energy saving ideas – Vol. 19, No. 3 (July, August)

Over the years, facility hotel and building managers have introduced many different and unusual methods for saving energy. Some were extremely expensive, while others were more or less just common sense. In this article, hotel energy expert Phil Sprague shares several useful, practical and cost effective ways of saving energy in a unique way.

Energy savings comes from employee training – Vol. 19, No. 2 (May, June)

It is estimated that the annual cost of energy and water for a hotel can be reduced by as much as ten percent by training employees to operate the hotel efficiently. The information in this article offered by hospitality energy consultant Phil Sprague will provide some suggestions for training employees to reduce energy consumption without any capital investment.

Engineering

Safety tips to prevent ladder injuries in your hotel – Vol. 19, No. 2 (May, June)

Ladders are a common tool utilized by the maintenance and engineering staff in nearly every hotel. They enable personnel to reach high places for a variety of reasons such as hanging banners, changing light bulbs, checking sprinkler heads, dusting high areas, accessing roof areas, and so much more. Yet, each year there are more than 164,000 emergency room-treated injuries in the United States relating to ladders. Of course not all these injuries occur in or at hotels and resorts, but many do. And when they do, the results can be costly.

From the Editor

From the Editor – Vol. 19, No. 5 (November, December)

Recently, I was asked by a veteran hotel consultant what I perceived have been the biggest changes in hospitality law affecting hotels in the past five years. My reply is presented here for review.

From the Editor – Vol. 19, No. 4 (September, October)

When Niagara University assumed publication ownership for The Rooms Chronicle® in 2003 one of the goals was for TRC to be used as a teaching tool to educate future hotel managers. To that end, TRC has been used as an educational tool in classes not just at Niagara University, but by instructors at dozens of college hospitality programs in the United States and abroad, including in South Africa, Europe, Asia and the Middle East. As an educator, the opportunity to share with and learn from others is something that is most important to me. After all, learning is a never-ending, lifelong journey.

From the Editor – Vol. 19, No. 3 (July, August)

As we finish up our Summer season and get ready for the Fall, let’s take a moment and reflect on the past ten years and how it has affected the lodging industry. This past month we have experienced a major hurricane on the east coast of the U.S., as well as tremors from a widespread earthquake. We also reflect upon the six year anniversary of Hurricane Katrina. And of course the world is still struggling with the effects of the 2007 recession. Most notably the ten year anniversary of the September 11th attacks looms heavily in our minds.

From the Editor – Vol. 19, No. 2 (May, June)

The other day while traveling on a business trip my colleague and I were driving to the hotel. My role was navigator for the day. After spending 15 minutes attempting to find our hotel, I did what most men wouldn’t do – call the hotel for directions. Let’s just say it became a more frustrating experience…

From the Editor – Vol. 19, No. 1 (March, April)

The Rooms Chronicle® has entered its 19th year of publication. During this time period we have published over 2,000 articles, inserts, posters and pocket guides on various facets of hotel operations. Everything from guest relocation procedures, linen thread counts, reservation call conversions, dealing with deceased guests, emergency evacuation procedures, telephone etiquette tips and more have been covered. We even provided an article on choosing the right toilet bowl brush for cleaning guestroom commodes! How is that for breadth of content?

Front Office

Eight items every front desk should have available for guests – Vol. 19, No. 5 (November, December)

The front desk serves as the hub of a hotel’s operation. The round the clock nature of the front desk makes it a logical focal point for guests to seek out remedies for their immediate problems at all hours of the day and night. Realizing this, front desk personnel should foresee the need to make available certain items to guests at any given hour of the day or night. Presented here are eight categories of items that every front desk should keep handy to accommodate unexpected or late night requests or emergencies. This list was compiled after consulting with various front office managers, night auditors and the author’s professional experience working overnight shifts at hotels.

Understanding the breakeven point when it comes to room revenue – Vol. 19, No. 5 (November, December)

Because of the various fixed costs associated with operating, maintaining and staffing hotels, there is a specific point, both in terms of dollars generated and room nights sold, where the hotel will start to realize a profit. Until the hotel reaches that magical number of guestrooms sold and revenue generated, all sales up to that point will essentially be used to pay for the fixed costs to operate the hotel plus the variable costs to supply and maintain the guestrooms that are used. Regardless of the service level your hotel offers, every competent hotel manager should know and be able to determine how many guestrooms they must sell and how much gross revenue they must generate in order to realize a profit. This article explains how to calculate this point, in a step by step format.

Four challenges unique to select-service and limited-service hotels – Vol. 19, No. 4 (September, October)

Today’s select-service and limited-service hotels are one of the fastest growing segments in the hospitality industry, and for good reason. Industry studies have shown that select-service properties have become more feasible to build and franchise than their full-service counterparts and offer an economical alternative for guests in today’s shaky economy. It is widely accepted that select hotels provide the best return on investment for hotel companies. As this segment continues its exponential growth, there will be more opportunity for management professionals to transition from full-service operations to managing a select- or limited-service hotel. As this article explains, while the size of the hotels may be smaller, the scope of what needs to be accomplished by fewer managers presents some unique challenges for hoteliers.

Prioritizing responses at the front desk during busy times – Vol. 19, No. 4 (September, October)

Put yourself in this scenario: You are working the front desk alone at a select-service hotel and as fate would have it everything explodes all at once. There are two guests waiting to be checked in, a third guest is seeking directions to a nearby restaurant, the phone is ringing off the hook, you can hear an incoming fax arriving, and yet another guest wants to pay for their purchase from the hotel convenience store. Who do you help first? And in what order do you assist each guest or complete each task?

Hotel “call arounds” pose legal problems while other options do not – Vol. 19, No. 3 (July, August)

Despite the myriad of resources available to hoteliers in a technologically advanced business environment, many front office managers opt to still engage in the age old business practice known as the daily “call around”. This is where a PBX operator or front desk clerk engages in a benchmarking exercise by telephoning other nearby hotels to inquire about their selling rates and occupancy for the coming evening. Based on the information culled from the call around, some front office managers may choose to raise or lower their short term rates to maximize revenue potential. Common sense dictates that that this approach to keeping tabs on your competitors is unreliable and rife with misleading intelligence. As this article explains, this tactic can be considered an illegal business practice and in violation of federal anti-trust regulations designed to promote fair and open trade amongst competitors.

Lessons learned from a hotel data breach – Vol. 19, No. 3 (July, August)

In this article, a former FBI agent shares the fallout resulting from a 2004 breach of guests’ data at a Maryland hotel that resulted in $850,000 in fraudulent credit charges. About 50 people had their credit cards defrauded. The hotel staff spent months on the phone giving interviews and processing paperwork. When all was said and done, almost a year after the attack, the hotel had learned a few hard lessons that are shared here.

Tips for small hotels, inns and other hospitality businesses to save on expenses – Vol. 19, No. 2 (May, June)

In this article veteran hospitality consultant Dr. John Hogan offers 13 simple, but often overlooked cost-saving, steps can be especially valuable in small lodging properties. Tips for the front and back office and energy savings are included. 

New ADA service animal regulations are now in effect for hotels – Vol. 19, No. 1 (March, April)

Previously, individuals checking into a hotel with a pet and claiming it is a “service animal” are essentially protected under Title III of the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) and the guest and service animal must be accommodated unless the animal poses a disruption or direct threat to the hotel or its guests. As of March 2011, the Department of Justice has updated the ADA with new regulations pertaining to service animals in places of public accommodation. These new regulations provide greater clarity for hoteliers as to what exactly is and is not considered a “service animal” and whether the animal being presented as a service animal must be accommodated by the hotel.

Guest Services

New product provides immediate response for heart attack victims – Vol. 19, No. 1 (March, ApriL)

Each year about 1 million Americans will suffer a first or recurrent heart attack, and some 500,000 will not survive it. The majority of all heart attack deaths occur before a victim can get to a hospital. Yet, aspirin remains largely underutilized at the onset of heart attacks. This is mostly because aspirin typically are not conveniently accessible when needed away from home. Just introduced in August 2010, is a unique patented aspirin dispenser that provides the fastest possible access to an emergency dose of aspirin tablets. It measures just three inches in length; so that it can be carried on a keychain, or in one’s pocket or purse. These emergency dispensers can be strategically located throughout a lodging property for immediate access when a guest starts to exhibit signs of a heart attack.

HouseKeeping

The basics of loaning items to guests – Vol. 19, No. 5 (November, December)

As a service to guests, hotels provide a variety of equipment that travelers commonly need. This equipment is loaned to guests upon request and at no charge. The housekeeping department is typically responsible for maintaining the inventory of guest loan items, responding to loan requests, and tracking the items to make sure they are returned. This article provides an overview of this function for housekeeping managers.

Insert: Log for guest loan items – Vol. 19, No. 5 (November, December)

This is a sample log for guest loan items that can be used by housekeeping and front office personnel to keep track of amenity items loaned to guests.

Tub and tile: Important and difficult – Vol. 19, No. 5 (November, December)

When it comes to cleaning the bathroom, the tub and tile area takes more time and energy and can be the cause of more problems than any other area of the guestroom. Many guest complaints and too many employee injuries begin in this area. This article presents tips that can serve as guidelines for training employees in the proper procedures for porcelain tub and tile shower cleaning.

Determining the correct order to clean guestrooms – Vol. 19, No. 4 (September, October)

Many housekeeping attendants often express confusion about the proper order in which guestrooms should be cleaned on a daily basis. Should those guestrooms that checked out first be cleaned first? What about requests for “early makeup” by stayover guests or VIP rooms? And what do you do if you have rooms blocked for early arriving guests? This can become a confusing scenario for room attendants, especially since they will not know which guestrooms will likely depart early. This article provides a sequential order which guestrooms should be cleaned and explains why this order is the most efficient method.

Twelve common housekeeping errors found in many hotels – Vol. 19, No. 3 (July, August)

As an educator, author, hospitality consultant, and former hotel manager, I tend to notice the various shortfalls in both service and cleanliness standards that regularly occur at hotels where I stay or visit when traveling. Whether it be for business travel or pleasure, it is easy to notice when the housekeeping staff at many hotels fail to meet the standards associated with their brand or the expectations of their guests. Presented here are twelve errors or inappropriate housekeeping work practices that can commonly be found in many hotels just by walking the halls as a guest. How many of these “errors” does your staff commit?

What to do with needles, syringes, and other “sharps” – Vol. 19, No. 3 (July, August)

Over 9 million people in the United States use needles and syringes to manage medical conditions. For the most part, exposure to “sharps” is not a big problem in the lodging industry; it can however present a serious problem exposing many “back of the house” employees or future guests to injury by carelessly discarded syringes and other contaminated items. Sharps are anything that can cause a puncture wound and expose employees or guests to blood or other body fluids that may contain germs (pathogens). Most commonly encountered sharps are hypodermic needles. But sharps may also include other items that have been contaminated with blood. This article discusses the concerns associated with sharps and hotel employees including employee training, collection and disposal.

To increase room attendant efficiency, limit trips to the cart – Vol. 19, No. 3 (July, August)

The best room attendants will explain that they have developed a system to clean their rooms. Whether or not they have been formally trained, veteran cleaners have worked out a routine that they use in each room. One of the secrets of being an excellent executive housekeeper is to help every room attendant learn a system that will save both steps and time. Although there are disputes about the correct order of cleaning, the most important factor is to limit the number of trips to the cart. This is a list that has been successful in many hotels.

Determining the correct levels and time to reorder housekeeping supplies – Vol. 19, No. 2 (May, June)

Housekeeping managers are responsible for reordering supplies, amenities and equipment so that their associates have the needed items to complete their assigned daily tasks. When supplies and amenity items run out, productivity can grind to a halt and guests are adversely impacted. When supplies run low to the point where reorders will not arrive in time before an outage occurs, housekeeping employees are forced to decide how to ration their supplies and guestroom amenities in order to make it through until the delivery arrives. This article illustrates how to develop and implement a standardized re-order plan for non-recycled housekeeping supplies to avoid such difficult scenarios.

With the deadline looming, new baby crib standards will affect hotels – Vol. 19, No. 2 (May, June)

The United States has issued new requirements for baby cribs to be bought and sold. As of December 2010, the Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC) has unanimously voted to ban the sale and resale of cribs with drop sides and to make their use in hotels and motels illegal. The ban officially starts on June 28, 2011 with hotels and motels given an 18 month time period to replace inadequate and unsafe crib models. As this article explains in detail, any cribs offered in hotels and motels on or after December 28, 2011 must meet the new standards.

Several tips for controlling housekeeping labor costs – Vol. 19, No. 1 (March, April)

With Housekeeping being the department that only takes away from the bottom line but never generates any revenue to add to it, every housekeeping manager should always make controlling their department’s expenses a top priority; and that should start with labor costs. This sounds simple, and if the hotel’s housekeeping team is really dedicated to this goal it can be; but controlling labor expenses when the hotel is busy and there are a thousand other things to do can be a real challenge. Here are some ideas that can be used as a checklist to keep the Housekeeping department’s labor costs under control.

The pros and cons of outsourcing housekeeping positions – Vol. 19, No. 1 (March, April)

Staffing a hotel’s Housekeeping department with reliable personnel can be rather difficult at times. It can require a detailed hiring process to bring unfamiliar associates on board, and usually an entire Human Resources staff to handle any needs or requests they may have. One alternative solution that many hotels are embracing is outsourcing some or all of the various housekeeping functions to non-hotel staffers. This entails the hotel bringing in a third-party business to supply the staffing needs. While outsourcing a hotel’s housekeeping function provides several benefits, there are also some negative aspects that must be considered. Here is a non-exhaustive list of pros and cons that any hotel should contemplate when considering if outsourcing is right for them.

Human Resources

Hoteliers beware: FCRA class action lawsuits on the rise! – Vol. 19, No. 5 (November, December)

This past calendar year has produced an alarming trend in employment litigation to which employers should pay particular attention – a boom in the number of class action lawsuits filed under the Fair Credit Reporting Act (FCRA) based on allegations of improperly conducted applicant/employee background checks. These lawsuits have resulted in several multi-million dollar settlements, not to mention the dramatic legal fees and costs associated with defending any class action. Thus, all employers, including hoteliers, should develop a familiarity with FCRA requirements and implement FCRA-compliant background screening policies and procedures in order to prevent costly litigation and provide a defense in the event of litigation.

Hospitality outsourcing for your hotel: Frequently asked questions – Vol. 19, No. 4 (September, October)

Due to a weak economy and high levels of unemployment, management teams at hotels, casinos and vacation ownership properties have faced increased pressure by their owners to cut costs and become more efficient, not just with managing resources but in staffing matters. It is no surprise to any veteran hotelier that staffing expenses are typically the greatest burden carried by a lodging property. Add to this the growing number of government-imposed hiring regulations emplaced upon employers and it is easy to see that many hotel managers are asked to deliver more with fewer resources available to them. Because of these challenges, outsourcing in the hospitality industry has and continues to grow by leaps and bounds across the United States and in the Caribbean. Many hotels brands have sought out the benefits afforded by outsourcing at least some aspects of their labor operation. Here is a list of the ten most frequently asked questions and answers about the benefits of outsourcing various labor functions within a hotel.

Employers must display a new Employees’ Rights poster at workplace – Vol. 19, No. 4 (September, October)

On August 30, 2011, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) issued a final rule that would require every U.S. employer subject to the National Labor Relations Act (NLRA) to display a new employees’ rights poster in their workplace. The poster must contain a select list of employee rights under the NLRA and must be posted by November 14, 2011. However, as indicated in this article, this posting date has been moved back to January 31, 2012. This article fully describes the posting requirements, reasons why the posting date has been delayed, penalties, and what steps that hoteliers should take to comply with the new law.

Why failing to pay for computer “booting up” time might transport you into a costly lawsuit – Vol. 19, No. 4 (September, October)

Let’s start with a fairly common scenario. An hourly employee arrives for work to start their shift. They sit down at their desk and turn on their computer. After about 5 minutes, the computer completes its booting up process, and the employee signs in. Once the employee signs in and the computer has accepted the employee’s password, his employer considers his workday to have officially started and he begins to receive pay for his time. Now, ask yourself what is wrong with this picture? If you said nothing, you might be right, BUT, believe it or not, this exact scenario has led to several millions of dollars in settlements over the last few years. This article provides a crash course on the legal issues associated with booting up time, and provides some helpful hints to keep your hotel from becoming the next Wall Street Journal headline.

New requirements for employers who seek to claim tip credit – Vol. 19, No. 2 (May, June)

A recent ruling by the U.S. Department of Labor with regards to tipped employees may have a dramatic impact on hoteliers, especially if a hotel fails to comply with its requirements. The ruling specifies that all employers must notify employees or forfeit tip credit on wages. This would affect hotels that seek to minimize the cash wages it pays directly to some employees such as bell persons, door persons, parking valets, concierges, room attendants, servers and bartenders as part of their weekly compensation. The new law requires that employers must comply with specific procedures if they seek to claim a tip credit for wages paid to certain. Many employers take up to a $5.12 credit against the prevailing federal minimum wage of $7.25 for employees that normally receive a substantial portion of their compensation as gratuities from guests. As explained in this article, to continue to take advantage of the tips credit, there are several requirements that employers must meet.

Insert: Fact Sheet #15: Tipped Employees Under the Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) – Vol. 19, No. 2 (May, June)

This insert, prepared by the Wage and Hour Division of the U.S. Department of Labor, provides a list of requirements that all employers must comply with who seek to claim a credit towards hourly pay for the gratuities that certain tipped employees receive. The Fact Sheet discusses how to handle minimum wage situations and overtime problems.

Best practices for diversity in the lodging industry – Vol. 19, No. 1 (March, April)

In this day and age, it’s pretty much a given that employers in every industry should – and do – strive for diversity in their workforces. In fact, diversity has become one of the biggest buzzwords of the 21st century. But even if it seems that everyone already knows that they should pursue diversity, it’s still worthwhile to reflect on the benefits of a diverse workforce, and talk about best practices for getting there. In this article, labor law attorney Jaclyn West provides insight for hoteliers to promote diversity in the workplace.

People Skills

A baker’s dozen of reality checks in hospitality: Myth or fact? – Vol. 19, No. 4 (September, October)

During the past 25 years in workshops, seminars and presentations, article author John Hogan has been collecting an assortment of “myths” that many of us have held as self-evident truths. Though he has shared one or two of these in previous blogs or columns, this list is much more comprehensive. Judge for yourself the depth of these following items, and decide if you agree with my assessment whether they are “myths or facts”.

Risk Management

Reducing the spread of contagious illnesses between employees and guests – Vol. 19, No. 5 (November, December)

It is no surprise that the Winter months bring an increase of cold, influenza, and other communicable illnesses to the workplace. But hotel employees are perhaps more susceptible than most workers to these transmitted illnesses because of the transient nature of the environment in which they work. Because of the public nature of the hotel business, it is impossible to work completely in a sterile environment. But there are prudent and guest-friendly steps that hotels and their associates can undertake to reduce transmission of communicable illnesses between guests and employees through various common contact points.

Common accident causes are frequently linked to poor employee discipline – Vol. 19, No. 5 (November, December)

Did you know that over 80 out of every 100 accidents are the fault of the person involved in the incident? It’s true. Unsafe actscause four times as many accidents as unsafe conditionsAccidents occur for many reasons. In many situations, people tend to look for “things” or reasons to blame when an accident happens. This seems to them to be easier than to look for the “root cause” or basic reason for the incident to begin with. Presented here are some of the reasons that work-related accidents occur. As you read them, recall if you have ever been guilty of any of these.

Ten steps to prepare your hotel for the next power outage – Vol. 19, No. 4 (September, October)

Power outages are indeed disruptive to hotels, their employees and most certainly its guests. Obviously elevators, escalators, computers, televisions, lights, and refrigeration systems will stop working unless the hotel maintains an emergency power source from a generator. But even the largest generators can typically only support limited electrical service to a big hotel. Hence, it is critical that hotels prepare well in advance for a power outage, which could occur at the least opportune time. Attempting to round up emergency supplies, diesel fuel, and other support items after an outage has occurred will likely prove costly, futile, or both. So take the time now to ask yourself, “How prepared is my hotel for a massive power outage?” Drawing on the lessons learned from the recent power outage in Southern California, here are ten steps to get you started on your emergency response plan for dealing with a large scale power outage.

Preparation for the hurricane season includes insurance and risk reviews – Vol. 19, No. 3 (July, August)

Once again, the Atlantic hurricane season is upon us. With it comes a sense of apprehension for all along the coast, especially for those in the hospitality industry. For many, a few months’ income will make or break a business, so a severe storm brings potential ruin for a business that is not sufficiently insured. While hotel owners cannot predict a storm, they can protect their businesses financially; understanding both the insurance product and a business’ risk is essential. In this article, attorney William F. “Chip” Merlin, Jr. explains the ins and outs of hurricane related insurance for hotels.

Behavior ignored is behavior accepted…Behavior rewarded is behavior repeated – Vol. 19, No. 3 (July, August)

In this article, risk management expert Jesse Denton encourages hotel managers to shape employee behavior by praising appropriate and exceptional behavior whenever observed. However, failure to correct bad and unsafe work habits will foster an environment of inappropriate behavior and an unsafe workplace.

Hoteliers beware: OSHA can now subpoena safety audits from insurance carriers – Vol. 19, No. 2 (May, June)

Recently, a federal district court ruled that the Occupational Safety and Health Administration (OSHA) has the right to subpoena safety audits and other records prepared by an employer’s insurance carrier. The court also ordered the carrier to testify about the records. The court’s decision serves as a reminder to hoteliers that OSHA continues to aggressively wield its enforcement authority, and that a hotel’s safety audits, internal safety reports, and related documents – even when prepared by an insurance company or an outside consultant – may eventually end up in OSHA’s hands.

Housekeeping employees must be wary of potentially hazardous drug exposure – Vol. 19, No. 1 (March, April)

Hoteliers must guard against hazardous drug exposure. Not the illegal kind of drugs, but the pharmaceutical type that may be left behind by guests and discovered by housekeeping associates. OSHA has identified this as a problem of increasing exposure to good health, and hotel housekeeping personnel are likely to encounter these drugs in guestrooms and restroom that have been left behind by guests and customers. Although these are incidental encounters, increased exposure could potentially threaten the health of certain associates.

Safety dictates that room service “door menus” have outlived their usefulness – Vol. 19, No. 1 (March, April)

Let’s all remember that just because something makes money, doesn’t necessarily make it the right thing to do. What about hotel marketing efforts that possibly compromise the delivery of guest service, or more significantly, pose a danger to the safety and wellbeing of their guests? Today, with the intense pressure on the bottom line, hotel managers must not lose focus that it is still their responsibility to protect guests against “foreseeable dangers” on hotel premises. As this article explains, one example of such a marketing initiative in hotels that poses a foreseeable danger and should be eliminated is the Room Service for Breakfast Door Hanger.

Sales and Marketing

Five common sense steps to stronger public relations for hotels – Vol. 19, No. 3 (July, August)

Many of John Hogan’s articles cover topics that are of interest to hotel and restaurant managers, hotel owners, innkeepers and hospitality associations. One of the topic areas he receives the most feedback and requests for additional materials are in the area of sales and marketing, which he has come to recognize is one of the three most essential for success. With that in mind, here are five common sense steps to stronger public relations that should help improve the positioning and perception of your hotel, as well as revenues.

Fact sheets are the most basic yet vital form of a hotel’s collateral material – Vol. 19, No. 2 (May, June)

Hotel fact sheets are an invaluable tool in the arsenal of sales and marketing managers. They provide the reader with immediate information about the hotel in a short and concise bullet point format. Essentially, it is an abbreviated version of a hotel’s marketing brochure that usually fits onto one standard size page. But what exactly should be included on a fact sheet, how should it be presented, and how often should this information be updated? This article addresses each of these areas, one at a time.

Hotel sales blitzes and a not so new technique for building sales and awareness – Vol. 19, No. 1 (March, April)

A sales blitz is an intensive survey of a given geographical area to determine its market potential. The idea is to lay the groundwork for a sharp increase in business by gathering the information sales staff needs to do its job well. The concept of a hotel sales blitz is a remedy that brings a great deal of enthusiasm to those responsible for selling, as well as a good amount of potential business. Hotel consultant Dr. John Hogan shares several tips about how to implement a successful hotel sales blitz program and where to draw short term labor from, for almost free!

Sustainability

New book offers comprehensive look at best practices for hotel sustainability – Vol. 19, No. 3 (July, August)

It has been several years in the making and now hoteliers have at their disposal a definitive and comprehensive source of information and education regarding sustainability efforts for their properties. Hotel Sustainable Development: Principles and Best Practices is an authoritative reservoir of information for any hotel manager seriously seeking to establish a green program or hotel culture of sustainability. In this book’s 21 chapters, various leading sustainable development experts identify emerging trends and discuss how sustainability affects regulatory, policy, development, architectural, financial, and operational issues as they apply to hotel and resorts. Each chapter presents important elements in the implementation of sustainable development to provide valuable insights to hotel investors, developers, owners, and lodging operators.

Where to start to find information on sustainable hotel practices – Vol. 19, No. 1 (March, April)

In this article, sustainability expert Dr. Brian Miller highlights resources that are available to hotels that can be used to increase their sustainable efforts.  Special focus is made on the American Hotel & Lodging Association’s “Green Resource Center” that offers tips for hotel organizations to become more eco-friendly and offers a variety of programs and initiatives that hoteliers can adopt. These guidelines and best practices are provided to enable both hoteliers and suppliers to become more efficient in their sustainability programs.

Insert: 11 Minimum Guidelines for Going Green – Vol. 19, No. 1 (March, April)

Courtesy of AH&LA’s Green resource Center, this insert provides a list of actions properties of any size should take to stake their claim as an eco-friendly establishment. Each step contains further tactics, including case studies, statistics, and additional resources.

Volume 18 – 2010

Ask Gail

New detection system can eliminate false claims against hotels of bed bug infestation – Vol. 18, No. 6 (November, December)

With all the adverse publicity about bed bugs infestations permeating the media, how is a hotel supposed to defend itself against claims of bedbug bites from overly sensitive hotel guests? This can be difficult since a property does not want to summarily dismiss any guests’ claims and appear as uncaring or disingenuous, nor does the hotel not want to be liable for claims that are not true or which it held no legal responsibility for. As explained in this article, the good news for hoteliers is that a new bedbug detection product has recently been developed that will enable hoteliers to check for recent activities of bedbugs in guestrooms on and near beds.

Ask Gail: Locking down housekeeper vacuums and hotel “emergency keys” – Vol. 18, No. 4 (July, August)

In this article, Gail responds to readers’ inquiries about how to prevent housekeeping staff members from “borrowing” other attendants’ vacuums without permission and where the hotel’s ‘emergency keys” should be located.

Removing petroleum jelly stains: Books about pioneers of the American Hotel Industry – Vol. 18, No. 3 (May, June)

In this Ask Gail column, a reader inquires how to safely remove petroleum jelly stains from the furniture upholstery and the carpeting. Another reader seeks books of inspiration written about America’s greatest hoteliers. Gail furnishes comprehensive answers and suggestions for both inquiries.

Ask Gail: Questions about the value of obtaining the CHA certification – Vol. 18, No. 1 (January, February)

In this Ask Gail column, a reader inquires about the value and benefits of the Certified Hospitality Administrator certification. The CHA designation is a highly respected globally recognized professional credential that validates a manager’s advanced knowledge in the hospitality industry. It is an honor awarded to lodging professionals whose leadership and managerial abilities are deemed exemplary.

Engineering

Confronting bed bug infestations with a multi-treatment protocol – Vol. 18, No. 6 (November, December)

Hoteliers can confront bed bugs proactively by understanding the biology and behavior of this persistent pest, and what it takes to identify and eliminate them. Proper treatment of bed bug infestations will help minimize a property manager’s liabilities, protect their brand, and optimize guest satisfaction. As this article illustrates, most pest control professionals and industry experts agree that multiple treatments (instead of one-time treatments) are necessary to control bed bug infestations, due to bed bugs’ biology and behavior.

Insert: “Stopping bed bugs starts with you” pocket card – Vol. 18, No. 6 (November, December)

Perfect for providing to room attendants, this pocket is printed in English and Spanish.

Insert: Bed bug detection poster – Vol. 18, No. 6 (November, December)

This color poster is suitable for posting in Housekeeping areas and room attendants’ closets. It illustrates the telltale signs of bedbugs and reminds housekeepers what they should do if they find them.

From the Editor

From the Editor – Vol. 18, No. 6 (November, December)

The number of attendees and exhibitor’s at this year’s International Hotel, Motel & Restaurant Show in New York City appeared to have contracted slightly in size over recent shows in previous years. But that did not deter the TRC staff from finding a handful of unique products that our readers may find beneficial for their hotels. Among this year’s new products is a travel childproofing kit, gravity operated peephole covers, and a bed bug detection system. Articles about each of these items are presented in this issue…

From the Editor – Vol. 18, No. 5 (September, October)

We are pleased to bring you several articles in this issue related to safety, security and some of the unrealized facts about insurance for hotels, each written by one of our content area experts. All our contributing authors write with the same purpose in mind: to educate you, our reader, so that you are in the best position to make informed decisions and initiate positive and proactive practices that will enable your hotel to flourish and increase profitability. Please read the article on hotel robberies and share it with your front office staff. First and foremost, we must always protect our guests and employees…

From the Editor – Vol. 18, No. 4 (July, August)

Based on my recent travels and observations, as well as my conversations with many hoteliers, it has been a good Summer for the lodging industry. Occupancies have increased beyond most expectations and room rates have been driven much higher than ever projected. The impending Autumn travel season appears to be robust as well. Given the underperforming year of 2009 and the downward spiral caused by the economic recession, perhaps we have just become smarter as hoteliers? Or perhaps we as a collective industry have just “right-sized” ourselves in terms of how we should really be operating our hotels?

From the Editor – Vol. 18, No. 3 (May, June)

Soon to be released is news of a new consortium that will incorporate both the educational content and the focus of The Rooms Chronicle® coupled with the vast experience of a handful of veteran consultants, previous hospitality managers, and industry experts. HospitalityEducators.com is a consortium of successful corporate and academic mentors delivering focused and affordable counsel in solving specific challenges facing the hospitality industry. HospitalityEducators.comservices will be designed to help individual hoteliers and hospitality businesses improve their market penetration, deliver service excellence and increase their profitability. The consortium will serve a wide spectrum of hospitality businesses ranging from small family owned operations to large convention centers, including: independent hotels and restaurants, boutique hotels, small hospitality brands, country inns and bed & breakfasts, management companies, hospitality students and aspiring professionals. Look for more details about HospitalityEducators.com to be released soon in TRC and learn how they can assist you.

From the Editor – Vol. 18, No. 2 (March, April)

The Lodging Industry faces many new challenges now and in the immediate future: more intensive ADA requirements, increased scrutiny by OSHA inspectors, higher occupancy tax levies from local governments, more thorough reviews of tax filings, and even greater scrutiny of work eligibility for employees in southern border states such as Arizona and California. What does this mean for hoteliers? Obviously, hotel managers must commit to being extremely vigilant in how they manage their properties, interact with government agencies, and lead their employees…

From the Editor – Vol. 18, No. 1 (January, February)

I would like to call your attention to two specific offerings in this issue of The Rooms Chronicle®. First, TRCSM has negotiated with the nationally recognized law firm of Ford & Harrison LLP to make available to our subscribers a dynamic offer for prepaid legal advice for employment-related questions and concerns. Please see the enclosed brochure for details and to take advantage of this offer. Also, I would like to welcome Dr. Brian Miller as a new regular contributing author. Brian will sharing his expertise on sustainability issues in each issue with advice on how hoteliers can help “green” their hotels, reduce their environmental footprint, and help hotel operators to lower resource usage and reduce costs. Just two more examples of how TRCSM benefits its readers.

Front Office

Five immediate turnoffs that will negatively impress arriving guests – Vol. 18, No. 6 (November, December)

First impressions really do matter to guests! In the early 1990’s, Marriott hotels pioneered a concept known then as “First 10”. The premise was that the first ten minutes during a guest’s stay would determine whether the arriving guest would be satisfied or dissatisfied upon departure. If the hotel could deliver perfect service for the first ten minutes, a guest would still be happy by the time they checked out of the hotel, even if one or more service failures occurred after the initial ten minute period.  Yet, in this author’s extensive travels, several service deficiencies exist in most hotels as witnessed within minutes of arriving. Now might be a good time for you to check your own property through the eyes of an arriving guest to see if the negative impressions presented in this article exist in your hotel.

Lessons learned from a recent attempted hotel robbery – Vol. 18, No. 5 (September, October)

Hotels are prime targets for robbery. They all keep and collect cash and other forms of payment on the premises, they are open 24 hours a day – 365 days a year, and hotels are very transitory businesses with people constantly coming and going at all hours. Yet, hotels tend to become very quiet during late night hours and fewer patrons are usually out and about. This makes front desks susceptible to individuals seeking to score some quick cash by staging a robbery. This article highlights a recent hotel robbery and explains why it was unsuccessful. Tips for surviving and minimizing the potential for future robberies at front desks are presented. This article is a must read for all front desk personnel.

Prostitution, swingers clubs and orgies; Sometimes you have to say “No” – Part II.  Vol. 18 – No. 5 (September, October)

In an article that appeared last year in The Rooms Chronicle (Issue 17, No. 3 – May/June 2009), a case of a police prostitution “sting” at a hotel was presented where the front desk clerk did not say “no” to a possible use of the hotel for prostitution. The point of that article was to demonstrate that the hospitality industry does not say “no” enough, especially in situations where they know they should take action, even if it means a guest may complain or be upset. Well, it has happened again, and it may be a situation that many hotels may encounter. This article illustrates questionable reservation requests that hotels may face and discusses how to deal with them.

Tracking early arrivals increases guest satisfaction and alleviates front desk stress – Vol. 18, No. 5 (September, October)

When hotels are in full swing with wedding guests, sport fans, and group conventions, the chances of seeing tight guestroom turns and busy lobbies increase tremendously. Mix those combinations with the average business travelers that are staying one or two nights and the result will be a very busy hotel and front desk. When the hotel has approximately 200 check-outs that are not obligated to vacate their guestrooms until 11a.m. or 12noon, and another 50 to 100 guests trying to check-in by 1p.m., accommodating each and every guest seems like mission impossible. The objective of this article is to promote and encourage hotels to have a system in place to track all guests trying to check-in before the published arrival hour and before the hotel has a clean and vacant room available.

Keeping the night auditors productive during slow periods saves money  Vol. 18, No. 4 (July, August)

There are periods in the life of a hotel when occupancy hits rock-bottom, the number of check-ins or departures is minimal, or little activity is occurring at the front desk or near the hotel lobby. The overnight shift is one such example in many properties, especially for limited-service and select-service hotels, where front desk personnel can often be found wiling the time away waiting for the next service encounter to emerge. More than likely your hotel’s night auditor is reading the newspaper, watching television, playing online games, posting on Facebook or Twitter, or working a crossword puzzle in the middle of the night to pass the time until their relief arrives at 7am. To increase overall productivity, consider assigning the tasks outlined in this article to your night audit personnel as time permits.

Wake-up call standards vary by segmentations and service levels  Vol. 18, No. 3 (May, June)

Deciding on the appropriate standard of service for delivering wake-up calls to guestrooms is something that every rooms division manager or front office manager will consider at one time or another. Much like a clean guestroom, freshly laundered towels, and a comfortable bed, it is one of the small amenities that guests have come to expect when staying away from home. While it costs very little to record and place wake-up calls, hotels accept significant responsibility and potential legal liability when choosing to offer this service. Failing to place a timely wake-up call can result in a guest missing their early morning flight, critical appointment or business meeting, or perhaps even taking vital medicine (such as insulin) on time. Hence, as presented in this article, attention to details and follow through on requests by hotel personnel are necessary.

Insert: Wake-Up Call Log – Vol. 18, No. 3 (May, June)

A sample wake-up call log is furnished so hoteliers can record wake-up call requests and annotate when they have been completed.

Eight tactics to increase hotel revenue at the front desk – Vol. 18, No. 3 (May, June)

Given the challenges of the past two years, it is no surprise that hotel managers are seeking to capture every dollar of potential revenue possible, especially with depressed occupancies and potential guests seeking bargains. The front desk is the perfect place to look for untapped sources of incremental revenue. Every hotel has a front desk, and nearly every guest will visit the front desk to at least check in upon arrival or conduct some other transaction. These interactions are the perfect opportunity to selectively offer guests higher levels of service and accommodations in exchange for a little additional income. This article presents eight different tactics that front office personnel can use to increase revenue.

Medical marijuana and incense burning in non-smoking hotels…What to do? – Vol. 18, No. 2 (March, April)

Recently, a guest who was burning incense in his guestroom was charged a $250 fee for violating the hotel’s non-smoking policy, as the hotel was a smoke-free property. The guest immediately challenged the assessed fee and stated he was burning the incense for “medical” reasons, claiming it was “aromatherapy”. The hotel asked the guest for a note from his doctor prescribing the “aroma therapy” and the guest produced the doctor’s note.  This article addresses the questions of whether the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) apply in such a situation. Under what conditions can Management prevent a guest from burning incense or lighting up a controlled substance in the privacy of an individual guestroom? And most significantly, does every hotel have to allow aromatherapy, incense burning, or medical marijuana use on its property, even if it is designated a smoke-free property?

Interdepartmental communication can make or break a guest’s stay – Vol. 18, No. 1 (January, February)

The success of a guest’s stay at a hotel hinges on the communication of the hotel departments and its staff members. From the second that the guest makes his or her reservation to the minute they check out, the Front Office, Housekeeping, and Engineering departments must be in constant communication in order to ensure the guest’s stay goes smoothly. The object for most hotels is not to show the guest how much effort and work goes into making sure his or her stay goes off without a hitch; rather, the intended objective is for it to appear to the guest as if the delivery of service is seamless, easy, natural and instantaneous. This article discusses how hotels can deliver service in what appears to be an effortless manner to guests.

Guest Services

Guests traveling with service animals cannot be denied service – Vol. 18, No. 6 (November, December)

The Americans with Disabilities Act has been interpreted to allow a specific accommodation that has a direct impact on hotels and restaurants. Specifically, hotels and restaurants must allow persons with disabilities to bring their service animals into all areas where customers are normally permitted to go. It is easy to see however, that due to the nature of the services provided and the accommodation in question, many issues may arise as to compliance with the law. This article explains how hotels must comply when it comes to guests with service animals.

25 steps to increase efficiency and boost the bottom line in your hotel – Vol. 18, No. 5 (September, October)

Many hotels around the country have made major changes in operations to run a more efficient operation – a must in this slower economy. But many hotel operators are missing opportunities, and some might not know where to start on what can seem like an overwhelming task. The good news is that whether it is improving an underperforming property, simply weathering the economic storm, or taking over a new hotel, owners and managers can usually make some relatively quick and easy changes to deliver an immediate boost to the bottom line. Here is a short and sweet to-do list of 25 points to consider, across some key operational departments, to inject a dose of economy-proofing in your property.

Good Samaritan Statutes protect hoteliers who assist guests in dire need – Vol. 18, No. 4 (July, August)

Good Samaritan Statutes protect hoteliers who assist guests in dire need – Vol. 18, No. 4
In most states there is no general legal duty to assist or rescue persons who are injured or in distress, even if they are guests on your premises. Every state has some form of a Good Samaritan Statute intended to provide immunity from liability for individuals who voluntarily and gratuitously come to the assistance of injured persons. These laws were developed to encourage people to come to the aid of others in emergency situations and shield them from liability if the victim is injured or dies while trying to assist them. This article outlines the elements common to most Good Samaritan Statutes, which vary from state to state.

Insert: Poster – First Aid for Choking – Vol. 18, No. 4 (July, August)

This 8.5” x 11” color poster is suitable for posting in restaurants, lounges, and employee areas. It illustrates the sequential steps hotel employees should undertake to render first aid to a guest or another employee who is choking.

Want to create better guest service? Learn the surrounding area of your hotel! – Vol. 18, No. 2 (March, April)

Hotel teams can be so focused on getting guests into their hotel that they forget about how important it is to promote the surrounding area of the hotel. Hotels and their communities are in a heterogeneous relationship; a hotel brings people to a city, but a city attracts people to need a hotel in the first place. A hotel contributes to the economy of a city, but the city’s economy directly impacts a hotel’s success. Hotels and their surrounding communities are in a co-dependent relationship and both must be cared for in order to create success. Guests will not differentiate their experience based upon time spent inside and outside of the hotel; therefore, a bad experience outside the hotel is as bad as one inside the hotel. By providing a thorough understanding of the surrounding area, guests are comforted and able to have their expectations met, resulting in a one of a kind stay.

The proper way for a bellperson to assist an arriving guest – Vol. 18, No. 1 (January, February)

The first person a guest sees is often the bellperson. The role of a bellperson in a hotel or resort varies from property to property. Yet, research has consistently shown that the interactions with staff during the first 10-15 minutes after arrival is the most critical determinant of whether a guest will depart after a hotel stay as satisfied. Hence, the interactions with bell staff are among the most decisive during the stay. In this article, an experience bellperson shares the proper procedures for greeting and rooming an arriving guest.

Housekeeping

Childproofing kit can be a differentiating amenity item for hotel rooms – Vol. 18, No. 6 (November, December)

As even the most patient parent can attest, traveling with young children is stressful. While supervision goes a long way toward preventing injuries, even the most vigilant parents can’t keep kids completely out of harm’s way every second of the day. Yet, redesigning rooms specifically to accommodate the needs of travelers with young children would be extremely costly and time consuming. However, as this article explains, a new amenity item known as The Travel-Tot Travel Childproofing Kit is designed with an eye toward offering guests an additional layer of protection between their young children and the hazards found away from home.

Are public restrooms giving a great first impression? – Vol. 18, No. 5 (September, October)

Veteran cleaners explain how to inspect a public restroom: “Walk in the door. Look up to see if the ceiling vent is fuzz free, and look down to see if the floor drain is clean and polished.” In two quick glances, these experts can determine whether the restroom receives regular, detailed care or only a passing touch-up. Does this two-glance method really separate the clean from the not-so-clean? “Yes,” veteran cleaners will say. “When the cleaning staff cares enough to reach up to vacuum the air vents or to get on hands and knees to polish the metal floor drain, you can be sure they have also cleaned the walls, floors, and fixtures.” As explained in this article, keeping public restrooms clean and safe requires a strong combination of daily and regular cleaning. A checklist of cleaning tasks and equipment are provided.

Top ten areas to watch for when housekeepers service public areas – Vol. 18, No. 5 (September, October)

Before hotel guests reach their guestrooms, they pass the hotel’s main entrance and lobby area. Therefore, the public areas serve as a firsthand advertisement for the hotel. This article is the third in a series that highlights the most commonly observed deficiencies among the different positions of the housekeeping team. Explored here are the top ten problem areas where public area attendants fail to meet standards.

Summer bed bug update for hoteliers – Vol. 18, No. 4 (July, August)

This article provides an update of current bed bug education activity that is available to hoteliers and briefly discusses what steps hotel employees should undertake to be on the watch for bed bug activity in your property.

Top ten problem areas to watch for when housemen service guest floors – Vol. 18, No. 4 (July, August)

All managers would like to think that their employees are doing exactly what they’re supposed to be doing at all times. But this is rarely the case, even amongst the best employees. The Housekeeping department, generally the largest in the hotel, can easily fall victim to a loss of control and along with it-quality. Whether intentionally or by accident, there are some common mistakes made by employees in each position. By recognizing these weaknesses, managers can save time by doing quick spot checks in the different areas of the hotel and share reminders in staff meetings about these focus points. Welcome to the second of a series of articles highlighting the most commonly observed deficiencies among the different positions of the housekeeping team. This article focuses on the top ten problem areas overlooked or neglected by housemen.

Top ten problem areas to watch for when room attendants service guestrooms – Vol. 18, No. 3 (May, June)

All managers would like to think that their employees are doing exactly what they’re supposed to be doing at all times. But this is rarely the case, even amongst the best employees. The Housekeeping department, generally the largest in the hotel, can easily fall victim to a loss of control and along with it-quality. Whether intentionally or by accident, there are some common mistakes made by employees in each position. By recognizing these weaknesses, managers can save time by doing quick spot checks in the different areas of the hotel and share reminders in staff meetings about these focus points. Welcome to the first of a series of articles highlighting the most commonly observed deficiencies among the different positions of the housekeeping team. This article focuses on the largest group within the Housekeeping department: room attendants.

Establishing par levels for linens is essential to avoid tying up resources – Vol. 18, No. 2 (March, April)

Linen is the most important recycled inventory item in the hotel under the executive housekeeper’s responsibility. Next to personnel, linen costs are the highest expense in the Housekeeping department. Careful policies and procedures are needed to control the hotel’s inventory of linen supplies. This article illustrates how to effectively manage hotel linens and to determine the appropriate inventory level for all types of linen used in the hotel.

A clean back-of-the-house is just as, if not more important, as clean guest areas – Vol. 18, No. 1 (January, February)

Generally, the back-of-the-house (BOH) areas of a hotel are only seen by employees and vendors, rarely, if ever, by guests. Unfortunately, many hoteliers are under the misperception that the order and cleanliness of the support areas is not as important as the guest contact areas. The BOH areas are indeed as equally important as the front areas. In this article housekeeping manager Elizabeth Kozlowski presents those key back areas that can significantly impact employee morale and behavior if not maintained to the same standard as guest contact areas.

Human Resources

Which restroom? Employers face challenges with gender identity issues – Vol. 18, No. 6 (November, December)

What happens when a male transgendered employee in your hotel wants to use the female restroom or locker room and other employees protest? Is your hotel required to comply with the transgendered employee’s request? And is such a request protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act?  Labor attorney Philip Moss discusses what an employer’s rights and obligations are when confronted with such requests from transgendered employees.

Best practices for discipline and discharge in the hotel industry – Vol. 18, No. 4 (July, August)

It happens to every employer sooner or later. It’s an unfortunate fact that, no matter how good of an atmosphere the workplace may be, sooner or later an employee will break the rules and needs to be disciplined or even discharged. When this sad situation inevitably arises, hoteliers find themselves facing potential liability on several fronts. On the one hand, if the discipline or discharge is handled wrong, the hotel could face legal liability in the form of a defamation or discrimination claim. On the other hand, hoteliers must enforce the rules, for the sake of both their guests and their other employees. As explained in this article, there are some simple principles that can go a long way toward limiting potential legal liability.

Dealing with religious accommodation requests from employees – Vol. 18, No. 2 (March, April)

When a hotel manager encounters a religion-based request for a waiver of the dress code or days off from work to attend religious services, what is the proper course of action? How must a manager respond to a request for religious accommodation, in order to minimize potential legal liability and maintain a sensitive posture while dealing with a diverse group of employees? This article, written by employment law attorney Jaclyn West, provides some answers.

Challenging times for hoteliers necessitate access to timely legal advice – Vol. 18, No. 1 (January, February)

Year 2009 ushered in a host of new employment laws with more on tap for 2010. Hoteliers can expect new and more onerous laws on the books in the future, stepped-up enforcement of new and existing laws as governments attempt to balance their out of whack budgets, and most certainly, unhappy employees in an underperforming economy. These are challenging times for hoteliers to make employment decisions. But how is a hotel manager who is focused daily on ensuring the highest levels of guest satisfaction, while meeting bottom line profitability, supposed to find the time and resources to educate him or her on the myriad of sweeping legislation that will undoubtedly affect their ability to control their properties and lead their staffs? This is where having reliable and knowledgeable experts at your fingertips who can render timely and experienced counsel is critical to avoiding the potential pitfalls for employers associated with such extensive employment requirements.

Determining what is recordable on OSHA’s Form 300A  – Vol. 18, No. 1 (January, February)

All hotels are required to post OSHA’s Form 300A, Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses from February 1 to April 30 for the previous year. OSHA has recently placed a high priority on recordkeeping and will likely continue this initiative. Citations have been issued for errors as simple as mathematical mistakes. However, not all employee injuries are OSHA recordable. This article and the accompanying inserts discusses the requirements for what constitutes a recordable injury/illness.

OSHA Recordable Decision Tree (insert) – Vol.18, No. 1 (January, February)

This insert accompanies the “Determining what is recordable on OSHA’s Form 300A” article. The decision tree, created by OSHA, is a simple but practical tool for managers to determine whether an employee’s illness/injury is considered by OSHA as recordable work-related event and must be documented on the OSHA 300 form and OSHA 300A log.

OSHA 300A Form with Worksheet (insert) – Vol.18, No. 1 (January, February)

This insert accompanies the “Determining what is recordable on OSHA’s Form 300A” article. The OSHA 300A form is the summary of work-related injuries and illnesses by each employer. By law, this form must be posted from February 1 to April 30 for the previous year.

Risk Management

Insert: 2011 The Rooms Chronicle Calendar and Hotel Evacuation Procedures Checklist. (Poster) – Vol.18, No. 6 (November, December)

Perfect for every hotel department, this full-color, pull-out poster serves both as a “Year at a Glance” calendar for 2011 and a comprehensive checklist for hotel departments to implement in the event that evacuating the hotel becomes necessary.

Inexpensive devices can ensure guest privacy and eliminate peephole tampering – Vol. 18, No. 6 (November, December)

The revelation that occurred last summer following the Erin Andrews peephole stalking case has had a profound impact on the Lodging Industry. In the Erin Andrews case, the viewing port (often referred to as a peephole) in the victim’s guestroom door was unscrewed and removed from the hallway, enabling the stalker to place a video recording device in the peephole and surreptitiously record the victim in various stages of undress. What most hotel guests do not realize, and what most hotel managers are just beginning to learn, is that these peepholes can be tampered with from the exterior of the guestroom door, without the guest being aware. As explained in this article, one company has developed a solution for today’s privacy and security issues relating to peephole tampering.

Insert: Booklet – The latest in U.S. currency design – Vol. 18, No. 5 – (Part: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11 – September, October)

This color booklet is suitable for placing near all cashier and point of sale areas. It illustrates and explains the latest redesign in the $100, $50, $20, $10 and $5 notes and the various security features that have been incorporated.

Insert: Poster – The new $100 note – Vol. 18, No. 5 – (Page: 1, 2, 3, 4 – September, October)

This color poster is suitable for posting near all cashier and point of sale areas. It illustrates the latest redesign in the U.S. $100 note and the various security features that have been incorporated to prevent counterfeiting.

Insert: Poster – The latest in U.S. currency design – Vol. 18, No. 5 (September, October)

This color poster is suitable for posting near all cashier and point of sale areas. It illustrates the latest redesign in American paper currency and the various security features that have been incorporated.

Security Alert! Check the security of your hotel’s Knox Boxes frequently – Vol. 18, No. 5 (September, October)

A Knox Box is a small, wall-mounted safe-like box that holds building keys for firefighters and EMTs to retrieve in emergencies. In many jurisdictions, the local Fire Department requires that a Knox Box be located outside of every hotel in order to facilitate rapid entry by authorized emergency personnel. Unfortunately, some hotels have recently seen many of these Knox Boxes forcefully removed from their wall mountings and stolen from the property. In several cases the thieves then returned to the hotel with the master keys and stole items. This article discusses the pros and cons of using Know Boxes and what hoteliers should do to protect their Knox Boxes from being compromised.

How to obtain a return on investment for your hotel’s insurance dollar – Vol. 18, No. 5 (September, October)

A recent study indicated insurance costs were approximately 2% of the total budget of a hotel company. This quickly escalates from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars as the size of the company increases. Insurance companies typically authorize around 2% of the premium to be allocated for risk control services. In reality, 2% of 2% does not translate to a very large financial commitment to reducing injury to a hotel’s guests and employees. Veteran risk management expert Jesse Denton explains how to obtain a respectable return on the hotel’s investment for its insurance premiums.

Courtesy vans pose a risk management dilemma if not maintained and licensed correctly – Vol. 18, No. 4 (July, August)

All too often a hotel or resort’s courtesy van (or “shuttle van”) is an afterthought to many hotel managers. This often results in what turns out to be an illegal operation and a potential liability nightmare. This article discusses several considerations for operating hotel courtesy vehicles that hotel managers should bear in mind to minimize accidents, increase guest satisfaction, and limiting potential liability.

Helping in choking and breathing emergencies – Vol. 18, No. 4 (July, August)

It is foreseeable that a hotel guest will become injured or may require immediate medical attention at some point. Probably no emergency requires more immediate response than incidents where a victim has stopped breathing. The two most likely scenarios where this could happen in a hotel is near the swimming pool (e.g., drowning) or a food and beverage venues (e.g., choking on food or liquids). This article outlines the immediate steps that each hotel manager and employee should take to deal with these situations and possibly save a life.

A matter of record: What and how long must hotel records be maintained? – Vol. 18, No. 3 (May, June)

Record keeping for hoteliers has always been a challenge. What information and how should it be recorded? What is mandated? What is optional? Is there a preferred format? What are the rules for the retention of records? Fortunately, there are some excellent sources of information about maintaining records. This article discusses these basics related to employment records, tax records, computerized records, risk management records, and how long business records should be maintained.

Insert: Federal Record Retention Requirements for Businesses – Vol. 18, No. 3 (May, June)

Presented a tabular format, this insert identifies the retention requirements of various records and reports associated with federal business laws.

Insert: State Statute of Limitations (in Years) for Business Records – Vol. 18, No. 3 (May, June)

While the federal government specifies a uniform period of time that various business records should be maintained, each state mandates differing time periods for records retention. This table identifies the duration of the Statute of Limitations for each state as it applies to written contracts, oral contracts, and negligence–related claims.

Hotel security: How much is too much from guests’ perspective? – Vol. 18, No. 3 (May, June)

Since the tragic terrorist attacks directed at hotels in Mumbai in late 2008, the American press – briefly – investigated the state of hotel security in the United States. After being interviewed by several major publications and reading the resultant stories, it quickly became apparent to this author that the collective lodging industry is not ready for increased security at our hotels, primarily because guests will not tolerate such invasive and restrictive measures needed to keep them safe. As described in this article, to enhance security to meet current prevailing threats, several changes would likely have to be made.

Off-the-job safety is often overlooked when seeking to cut insurance costs – Vol. 18, No. 2 (March, April)

Most hotels do not track how many lost time injuries or illnesses were experienced by their employees in off-the-job incidents. For a typical lodging establishment, it will probably be in excess of the number of incidents recorded in on-the-job injuries or job-related illnesses. Since on-the-job incidents will usually require reporting for both Workers Compensation and OSHA, hotels typically maintain extensive records related to on-the-job injuries and illnesses. Yet, the cost and lost productivity time of off-the job accidents and illnesses could result in increased employer-paid insurance premiums and productivity expenses. This article suggests how to best track and reduce off-the job injuries and illnesses of employees.

Quality door mats contribute to a safer and greener indoor environment – Vol. 18, No. 2 (March, April)

For many years hospitality safety consultants have recommended good entrance mats as a means for preventing injury to guests who are going from a wet or snowy sidewalk to a polished floor with wet, muddy or icy shoes. While the U.S. Green Building Council did not develop the LEED program as a slips and falls prevention program, as this article points out, there are many “green” benefits to installing and maintaining high quality entrance mats. In addition to greater safety against skip and fall accidents, entrance mats can decrease HVAC operating costs and improve their efficiency.

A quick refresher on swimming pool law and requirements for hotels – Vol. 18, No. 2 (March, April)

As the weather starts to warm up and many people begin to make travel plans for Summer vacations, most hotels are beginning to open their outdoor swimming pools for the season. In the past two years many states have enacted legislation that affects commercial pool operators, including hotels. Such changes in pool regulations are intended to make these recreation facilities safer for users and to hold operators more accountable for violations or injuries to guests. This article discusses the Certified Pool/Spa Operator certification, the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act, and 15 additional standards for pool safety.

Pre-paid legal employment hotline offer for TRC subscribers (insert) – Vol.18, No. 1 (January, February)

This brochure explains the pre-paid legal services offered by the employment law firm of Ford & Harrison LLP especially for The Rooms Chronicle® subscribers. The annual cost of the service is only $100, saving TRCSM subscribers over $1,400 in prevailing attorney rates. Participation in the hotline program affords hoteliers timely access, up to 30 minutes per month, to over 200 attorneys in the Ford & Harrison firm that specialize in the various disciplines of employment law.

Meth labs in hotels pose a dangerous and significant challenge – Vol. 18, No. 1 (January, February)

In recent years, a do-it-yourself drug has entered the American drug culture. Methamphetamine is a psychoactive stimulant drug that poses a unique challenge for hotels because the drug can be manufactured almost anywhere where there is a contained environment free from public observation, such as basements, apartments, RVs in remote locations, rental cabins, and certainly hotel rooms. This article provides insight to hoteliers about what to watch for, how to identify potential meth “cookers”, and how to deal with the clean-up process if your hotel becomes a meth lab site.

Sales and Marketing

Interactive marketing is a low-cost/high impact positioning tactic for hotels – Vol. 18, No. 6 (November, December)

Use of interactive social media as a marketing tool has become an increasingly popular tactic by businesses to further engage their existing consumer base. Dubbed “interactive marketing”, these media can also assist in building brand awareness among a constantly growing pool of potential new customers. Many lodging establishments and restaurant venues, from independent properties to large nation and worldwide chains, have begun participating in some form of interactive marketing. While powerful, wildly popular and extremely economical, there are several considerations related to the execution and maintenance of any interactive marketing efforts that should be taken into account prior to initiating this type of tactic via any social media platform.

Friends, fans or advisors: Do social media influence choice? – Vol. 18, No. 6 (November, December)

Social media are the rage among marketers of travel services. The theoretical “reach” of social media does, in fact, boggle the mind: Facebook alone now boasts in excess of 500,000,000 members globally. The incidence of adults who report posting on the other popular sites pales by comparison. But to what extent do active travelers visit these sites, consult the content of these sites when evaluating travel service options and, perhaps most importantly, report that the content of what they find on these sites influences their actual behavior? The answers may surprise you.

Five tips for hoteliers in order to effectively interact with the media – Vol. 18, No. 3 (May, June)

A major objective of hotel owners, managers and sales professionals is to profitably provide hospitality services to as many guests as possible. Recognizing the differences in the various components of the sales and marketing efforts will undoubtedly make that service provider more focused on net results, guest satisfaction and profitability, rather than on headlines. Unfortunately, hotels are inviting venues for potential crime, lawsuits, and media stings. As a result, there are many times in this global economy when a hotel might become the news, rather than be featured in it. The following five major points are offered as a primer for positive contact and professional relations with the media.

Need to sell more hotel rooms “in a “flash”? Consider flash selling! – Vol.18, No. 2 (March, April)

One of the more controversial marketing techniques to emerge from the challenging business climate that prevailed last year is “flash selling,” or the blasting of time-dated offers to targeted prospects via email. The technique started in the airline business as a way in which to liquidate unsold inventory on selected routes. Hotel companies trying to pump up occupancy on otherwise slow dates have been quick to follow. Hospitality and tourism marketing expert Peter Yesawich explains how flash selling can drive up room revenues and occupancies for the short term.

Five steps for hotels to embark on as they await better economic times – Vol. 18, No. 1 (January, February)

The lodging industry is destined for recovery. It’s just a matter of time before the lodging industry experiences the inevitable upswing of consumer demand and will realize increased profitability once again. But what will this upswing look like? How will we as a collective industry know it when it arrives? Will it be as robust as the verge of the Millennium or even four years after the 9-11 tragedy? Or will it sneak upon us in a more stealthy and unrecognizable manner? This article discusses how leisure guests will lead the charge back to profitability and what they will demand from hotels to earn their business. Additionally, five strategies for hoteliers to implement to earn more leisure business are presented.

Sustainability

“Greening” your hotel’s meetings – Vol. 18, No. 6 (November, December)

Internal meetings with staff are a necessary evil. Nobody enjoys all of the meetings that are scheduled throughout the week to make sure that operations are running smoothly, but if they are managed properly they can provide a forum to discuss items that are critical to the success of the services provided to the hotel’s guests. There is a plethora of books and anecdotes parlaying factors that lead to successful meetings; however, there is a dearth of content focused on making such meetings more sustainable. This article provides tips that should be implemented when holding internal meetings to increase sustainability.

Several initiatives that hotels can take to “green” their transportation – Vol. 18, No. 5 (September, October)

The facts are clear, transportation in the United States and around the world is rapidly changing, and some hotels are on board to do their part to reduce their hotel’s carbon footprint. This article explains how one such hotel adopted a transportation Green initiative and the various efforts it undertook to minimize energy expense and carbon emissions while engaging in sustainable, long-term practices regarding hotel transportation.

Water conservation for hotels – Start today to meet the needs of tomorrow – Vol. 18, No. 4 (July, August)

Only when the water is shut off or the hot runs cold do we stop and think, first about the inconvenience, and maybe for a fleeting second about what if we ran out of water? So as hoteliers, how do we save water, reduce our costs, and simultaneously meet customer demands? This article provides several suggestions on how to minimize water usage, and save money in the long term, while not compromising the guest experience.

Maintaining sustainability: Turn out the lights and focus on operational efficiency – Vol. 18, No. 3 (May, June)

In this article, the authors discuss strategies to improve the financial performance of a hotel’s operation through the reduction of its energy consumption. The article explains ten actions that every staff can implement to save money and make the hotel more environmentally sustainable.

Moving to single-stream recycling – Part II: Finding cash from dumpsters – Vol. 18, No. 2 (March, April)

Well, you’ve heard of “dumpster diving” and how to don a pair of rubber gloves and find cash in the trash. Well, just like crime scene work, it’s not in the gloves or looking in the trash where one finds the real money. After talking to hundreds of hoteliers, the authors of this article realized that the real savings with dumpsters comes with efficient monitoring of one’s trash and the timely scheduling of trash pickups to ensure only “full loads” are being hauled away.

Do we really need it? Moving to single-stream recycling – Part I – Vol. 18, No. 1 (January, February)

This is the first installment for a new column for The Rooms Chronicle®. In each issue, the authors will illustrate how to implement sustainable practices for hotel operators. Cutting through the myths, can’t dos, and commercial clutter, the purpose of the column is to help hotel operational managers lower resource usage and reduce costs. To address the new, triple bottom-line of sustainability – people, planet, and profit, hoteliers must look beyond the usual cost savings of reducing “man power” and focus instead on resource conservation. Every hotel manager needs to ask him or herself, “Do we really need it?” The intent is to provide hoteliers and their staff with the fuel and guidance to jumpstart their commitment to sustainable practices that will yield tangible results and actual cost savings.

Volume 17 – 2009

Ask Gail

How to deter the theft of flat panel televisions from hotel premises – Vol. 17, No. 6 (November, December)

A reader writes to Gail and inquires how to minimize the theft of expensive flat panel televisions from guestrooms and public areas his hotel. TRC risk management contributing author Todd Seiders provides four simple steps that hotels can implement to safeguard flat panel TVs.

How to disengage guestroom security door latches from the outside – Vol. 17, No. 5 (September, October)

A reader writes to Gail and inquires how hotels may unlock guestroom security door latches from the outside without damaging the door for situations where guests expire in their sleep or are unable to come to the door. A patented tool designed to accomplish this task is shared.

Ask Gail: Dealing with unsightly black spots and streaks on bathroom mirrors – Vol. 17, No. 3 (May, June)

In this article, Gail responds to a hotel maintenance manager who asks the cause of and remedy for black spots and streaks that appear in the hotel’s guest bathroom mirrors.

Ask Gail: Can a hotel restrict outside food and beverages from hotel premises? – Vol. 17, No. 1 (January, February)

In this article, Gail responds to a front office manager’s inquiry regarding whether a hotel can create a policy that restricts food or alcoholic beverages that aren’t purchased from the hotel from being brought onto hotel grounds and consumed in the privacy of guestrooms. Topics such as distribution of menus, granting access to delivery personnel, restricting alcoholic beverages, and enforceability of these policies are discussed.

Energy

Advanced fluorescent lighting zaps costs for hotel parking structures – Vol. 17, No. 1 (January, February)

Hotels that own or operate parking garages and surface lots may be unwittingly burning holes in their pockets with “old tech” lighting systems. Parking lots and garages with HID-type (high-density discharge) lighting can save a remarkable 70 percent on energy usage and 50 percent on maintenance costs by converting existing fixtures to more efficient and brighter RGB fluorescent lighting systems. The energy saved will not only save considerable dollars but also reduce significant amounts of pollution associated with avoidable energy usage.

From the Editor

From the Editor – Vol. 17, No. 6 (November, December)

We have nearly made it through 2009, a year wrought with depressed profits, reduced occupancies, and general uncertainty for most in the lodging industry. With this in mind, this year-end issue of The Rooms Chronicle is centered on the theme of persevering under adversity and recognizing the need to change with the new challenges and opportunities that are currently prevalent. Maintaining rate integrity, finding untapped and expanding into underserved market segments, and employing new incentives that can drive up group business are just a few foci of the articles presented here for your review.

From the Editor – Vol. 17, No. 5 (September, October)

As in previous years, staff members of The Rooms Chronicle® will be attending the International Hotel, Motel & Restaurant Show in New York City this November. As per part of our annual pilgrimage to the Hotel Show we will be searching for new technologies, unique tools, and anything else that we can share with our readers to assist in their daily operation of their hotels. I would also like to invite you to attend our reception on Sunday, November 8th. In conjunction with Niagara University, we will be hosting the sixth annual TRC reception at the Conrad Suite of the Waldorf=Astoria hotel in New York City from 6-8pm. All are invited. I hope that you can join us.

From the Editor – Vol. 17, No. 4 (July, August)

It is that time of year, what I refer to as the “silly season” for hotels. Properties are starting to wind down towards the end of what is usually a busy Summer travel season and assess their profit potential that will need to carry them through the leaner seasons of Fall and Winter. It is also the time where we start to hear legendary stories of transgressions that have been committed against hotel properties; everything from families that have damaged guestrooms to outright theft of hotel property by guests and even employees during these tough economic times. In this issue of The Rooms Chronicle® we share some of these outrageous stories.

From the Editor – Vol. 17, No. 3 (May, June)

This issue of The Rooms Chronicle® brings various topics to our readers. Most of the articles are centered on the theme of “preserving the investment” during these tough economic times; not just ownership’s investment in the physical property but also the hotel’s investment in its human capital, both employees and guests. As part of this theme, please be sure to visit Peter Ricci’s article about cutting back on guest amenities. I am positive that his article and those from our other contributing authors will give you much to consider.

From the Editor – Vol. 17, No. 2 (March, April)

Generally, it has been our policy at The Rooms Chronicle to solely focus on operational issues and concerns that affect hoteliers at the property-level. We strive to remain neutral on political matters and really only present those concerns if they will adversely or positively impact individual hotels and owners and not just the collective lodging industry. But in this issue we must speak up about the devastating impact that the Employee Free Choice Act will have upon the lodging industry. Plain and simple, this is BAD LEGISLATION. I encourage every hotelier to realize the EFCA for what it is: An attempt to benefit unions and unionized workers that will take most control away from those who invest, own, and manage hotels. This will assuredly hurt the lodging industry and all involved for the long-term if we allow it to pass.

From the Editor – Vol. 17, No. 1 (January, February)

At first glance, this issue of The Rooms Chronicle may seem a bit morose as articles discussing slip, trip & fall accidents, employee theft, dead guests, parking structure liability, and the need for increased security measures at some hotels are presented. While these are certainly not everyone’s favorite subjects, the knowledge derived from each are vitally important to maintaining a hotel’s reputation and, to some extent, its financial survivability in tough economic times. I am confident you will find value in this information that many hoteliers do not usually consider on a regular basis.

Front Office

Compromising rate integrity in a recession carries both short- and long-term risks – Vol. 17, No. 6 (November, December)

In a recession as monumental as this one, companies are doing anything they can to survive. In this effort to keep occupancies high and employees working, many hotels have begun to jeopardize room rate integrity. In order for hotels across the United States to continually keep guests occupying rooms, many properties are lowering their room rates. But each property is approaching this rate reduction strategy in a different way. This article presents the short-term and long-term risks that hotels face when they choose to compromise room rate integrity in a quest to maintain or increase occupancy levels.

A time for GMs to keep the glass half full and explore new revenue sources – Vol. 17, No. 6 (November, December)

By examining the trends over recent decades, one can see ascertain that the hospitality industry, and more specifically, tourist arrivals, are on the upswing. Even with the highs and lows and peaks and valleys of the always-returning economic cycles, the hospitality business always survives and thrives in the long run. As veteran hotelier Peter Ricci suggests in this article, general managers should focus on three specific areas to keep the “glass is half full” environment and culture prevalent within their own hotel operations. They will immediately see a change in attitude and morale among their staff members and, ultimately, they will see a higher return to business levels.

Security responses for hoteliers to combat internal fraud and credit card theft – Vol. 17, No. 4 (July, August)

Admittedly, these are incredibly trying times for the hospitality industry with decreasing occupancy and steeply declining RevPAR levels. With continuing industry layoffs, and the threat of more to come, most lodging industry employees are apprehensive and concerned about their job security. Couple this with personal financial issues such as high credit card balances, resetting mortgage rates, perhaps health issues, and it is no small wonder that hotels are seeing the development of numerous fraud triangles. In this article, hospitality risk management expert Jim Stover shares recent hotel fraud and embezzlement schemes that have been uncovered, and presents a list of steps to implement in order to prevent internal credit card fraud.

Recent hotel pranks emphasize the need for caution and … common sense – Vol. 17, No. 4 (July, August)

Recently, hotel guests and employees alike throughout the United States have been conned by telephone callers to engage in dangerous and destructive activities that have resulted in pranks that have caused thousands of dollars in property damage and wracked nerves. This article provides an overview of various hotel pranks and the means by which callers engage their unwitting victims, as well as several recommendations for hoteliers to avoid falling prey to these hoaxes. 

Exercising judgment at the front desk – Sometimes you just HAVE to say “NO” – Vol. 17, No. 3 (May, June)

As illustrated through a prostitution sting anecdote, risk management expert Todd Seiders explains that sometimes it is necessary to refuse service at the front desk in order to protect the hotel and its guests or to avoid any appearance of ambiguity or misinterpretation by potential guests. 

Hoteliers can derive revenue from menu books for guest seeking F&B choices – Vol. 17, No. 2 (March, April)

Maintaining food & beverage service in a hotel is an expensive proposition. The sad truth is that many hotels do not break even and most ultimately end up subsidizing the F&B division’s expenses. Resultantly, many hotels have chosen to cut back but not eliminate various F&B services. Realizing that many guests will choose not to patronize these limited F&B offerings, many full-service and select-service hotels have prepared and placed in their lobby menu books of various restaurants in the hotel’s geographic area. The article discusses how hoteliers can generate revenue by placing these in their lobby.

Using a hotel’s wireless connection as a marketing tool to accommodate guests – Vol. 17, No. 1 (January, February)

Every time a guest connects and logs on to the WiFi system during a stay at any hotel, a marketing opportunity is born where guests can be directed to the hotel’s own information portal. Much like the hotel’s website and homepage is focused on attracting potential guests to the hotel, the information portal would be a marketing tool designed to cater to those who are already staying at the facility and are looking to enhance their experience. Everything from ordering room service, placing a wake-up call, ordering theater tickets, and taking a guest survey can be accomplished through the portal.

Hotel guest safety is the “luxury” in service excellence – Vol. 17, No. 1 (January, February)

Recent terrorist attacks in Mumbai and elsewhere have caused increased concern about hotel security and the well-being of its guests. Globally, many hotels recognized as being owned, franchised or operated by companies based in Western countries have been targets of attack by terrorists. Increased levels of security, without undermining guest privacy and guest safety, should therefore be a primary concern for companies operating and developing hotels. As this article explains, in today’s world, a safe and secure hotel environment is a highly sought after “luxury” by many guests.

How to properly respond to a guest death in your hotel – Vol. 17, No. 1 (January, February)

At some point in time, every front desk, security, or housekeeping manager will have to deal with the issue of death in their hotel. It is not a pleasant scenario when a guest is found dead, but it is a situation that requires immediate action, tact, and most importantly, discretion. Knowing the appropriate steps to take ahead of time can make dealing with this situation easier and enable the hotel and its staff to return to some semblance of normalcy quicker. Aspects such as securing the scene, securing and returning a guest’s personal property, and responding to a guest suicide are addressed.

Guest Services

Little failures can lead to loss of guest loyalty: Are you watching the details? – Vol. 17, No. 6 (November, December)

As everyone deals with this weak economy and the consequential loss of customers, hotel managers need to be sure that they are not overlooking the small things that add up for the hotel’s remaining customers, especially if the hotel wants to maintain their loyalty. While a hotel may not have money today for big changes at its property, operationally it can continue to tweak those aspects that are irritants to existing customers. This article shares a letter written to a hotel general manager about the “small thing” that are often overlooked by employees, but not by guests.

Eight steps to prevent undercover reporters seeking to violate guests’ privacy – Vol. 17, No. 5 (September, October)

As a result of the unauthorized release on the Internet of videos taken of ESPN reporter Erin Andrews reportedly via a hotel peephole and the suspect’s demonstrated pattern of stalking Ms. Andrews, several news media organizations are calling or visiting hotels and asking for specific rooms, next to specific registered guests, to see what security measures are in place at the hotel. Commonly referred to as “Gotcha Journalism,” various media outlets have resorted to these stings to entrap hoteliers doing something wrong and to boost their viewership ratings. So, what can and should hotels do to avoid falling prey to investigative reporters, and more importantly, ensure the safety and privacy of their guests? This article presents eight steps to get started.

Eight guest service basics that every hotel employee must master – Vol. 17, No. 5 (September, October)

There is nothing that can ruin a guest’s experience while staying at a hotel quicker than poor guest service. While every property may train their employees differently, there are several guest service basics that every employee should be taught and, in turn, master. Although it is important that all employees learn and embrace these concepts, front-line employees need to be even more aware of the proper way to interact with guests. The eight tips presented in this article will put any employee on the fast track to delivering better guest satisfaction.

Unique guest services – or – Did that fish really press the elevator call button? – Vol. 17, No. 5 (September, October)

Throughout the past few decades, the growth in the number of market segments identified by hoteliers as economically feasible to serve in a differentiated fashion has grown at a tremendous rate. This has led to the development of many hospitality products that closely match the customers’ specific needs; but at times it can also be viewed as presenting a rather confusing number of product offerings from which the consumer must choose. So how do hoteliers find the “little cracks” in the market segments where an eclectic mix of unique value-added activities can pay large dividends in capturing customers who appreciate uniqueness? This article presents an overview of how one upscale hotel chain has worked hard at conceptualizing and implementing some guest service ideas that appear to go against the grain of what many in the lodging industry identify as standard amenities in the near-luxury brand.

Thinking about cutting back here and there? REMEMBER ME…I’m The Guest! – Vol. 17, No. 3 (May, June)

In an April 2009 article that appeared in Hotel & Motel Management, the authors state that “hotels are not piling on excesses, but are providing a good value and responding to the economy with reasonableness and practicality.” Nonetheless, with the deepening recession, global travel spending cuts, and austerity measures in place at hotels across the country, one cannot help but notice the changes in day-to-day business procedures including staffing cutbacks, diminished amenity offerings, and substitution of less expensive and perhaps lesser quality breakfast items. Veteran hotelier Peter Ricci reminds hotel managers to consider the long-term impact of such cost-saving measures before implementing these short term tactics.

Pay to play: Beware that the cost of music for hotels is not necessarily free – Vol. 17, No. 3 (May, June)

This article discusses the various legal and fiduciary implications associated with the transmission, retransmission, or performance of music for hotels offered via bands, DJs, radio, or from prerecorded music. Aspects such as copyrights, royalties, licensing agreements, exemptions, cover charges and staying in legal compliance are discussed.

HouseKeeping

Twelve housekeeping sins that should never be committed by room attendants – Vol. 17, No. 5 (September, October)

Throughout the course of my travels I am constantly shocked to find room attendants committing the same egregious errors. It could be a different day, in a different hotel, in a different city, yet it seems that the same handful of transgressions is committed by most room attendants at whatever hotel I might be temporarily residing, regardless of geographic location, service level, or room rate paid. Violating any or all of these basic housekeeping tenets will likely increase maintenance and repair costs to furniture and fixtures, pose a health and safety danger to the room attendant or guest, or, create a disturbance upon the guest. Presented here is a list of twelve basic room cleaning errors that every room attendant must avoid committing at all costs.

Hotels can learn many lessons from reports of towel and amenity theft – Vol. 17, No. 4 (July, August)

Ever wonder why the replacement expense for housekeeping linens and amenities are so high? Perhaps it is a lack of controls and inventory safeguards that contributes to exorbitant shrinkage of these items. After payroll, typically the highest departmental expense for any housekeeping director is replacement linens and consumable guestroom amenities such as coffee, soap, shampoo, conditioner, body lotion, and even toilet paper. A typical 250 room full-service hotel may have as much as half million dollars tied up in its housekeeping supplies. Realizing that theft of housekeeping supplies is costly and detrimental to the department’s bottom line, here are some suggestions about what housekeeping managers can do to minimize these losses.

Preventing dermatitis in housekeeping and engineering personnel – Vol. 17, No. 4 (July, August)

Hotel employees most likely to be affected by skin ailments include housekeeping and engineering personnel as well as stewarding and culinary employees. Diseases of the skin are the most common of all occupational diseases and should be taken seriously. Skin diseases are most often referred to as dermatitis, which is an inflammation of the skin. The Bureau of Labor statistics estimates that about 40% of occupational diseases are dermatitis related. This is by far the leading type of occupation illnesses reported. In this article, loss prevention consultant Jesse Denton explains how hoteliers can minimize lost work time and injury claims related to dermatitis.

Dermatitis (Skin Disorders Quiz) – Vol. 17, No. 4 (July, August)

This insert is a ten question quiz designed to accompany Jesse Denton’s article “Preventing dermatitis in housekeeping and engineering personnel”. The quiz should be administered to employees after training them about the effects and dermatitis and how to prevent it.

New housekeeping tool helps minimize strain and repetitive injury to room attendants – Vol. 17, No. 3 (May, June)

It is no secret that room attendants are prone to strains and repetitive motion injuries. Up to 18 times a day a room attendant will perform over 100 cleaning tasks before moving on to the next guestroom and repeating the cleaning cycle. Hotel managers should be extremely concerned about the impact these standardized cleaning procedures have on its room attendants. As many hotels have upgraded their bedding packages with thicker mattresses and plusher bed in an attempt to offer more luxurious sleep accommodations, room attendants are forced to lift bulkier and heavier mattresses. This article presents an innovative tool housekeepers can use to help reduce the fatigue and injuries associated with changing hotel bed linens.

Taking the confusion out of when and how to rotate hotel mattresses – Vol. 17, No. 2 (March, April)

Hotels make substantial investments in their guestroom bedding and linens. Since most hotels only renovate their guestroom an average of once every five years, it is imperative that the housekeeping manager implement a plan to rotate and flip guestroom mattresses in order to preserve their use life until the guestroom will next be refurbished. In this article, veteran Executive Housekeeper Paul Gingras shows and explains how and why to properly rotate guestroom mattresses.

Saving millions in housekeeping costs – Just by taking OneSTEP – Vol. 17, No. 1 (January, February)

This article discusses Standard Textile’s innovative OneSTEP linen use program that streamlines housekeeper efficiency, enabling housekeepers to save an average of three minutes in combined laundry processing and housekeeping bed make-up time per room. Such a program saved LaQuinta Inn and Suites almost $5 million in labor efficiency per year. This program could save a single 500-room hotel over $450,000 per year.

Human Resources

Changes to labor and employment laws and how they affect hoteliers – Vol. 17, No. 6 (November, December)

With a new administration in the White House and a new justice on the Supreme Court, Washington, D.C. has been working overtime for the past year – and many things have changed as a result. And as 2009 gives way to 2010, we can expect even more tinkering with the employment laws, from Congress and the courts. Employment law experts Jaclyn West and Don Law provide a legal update on employment laws that have passed in 2009 or are slated for possible implementation in 2010 and how they will affect hotels.

Alternative dispute resolution saves hoteliers time, money and frustration – Vol. 17, No. 5 (September, October)

What is alternative dispute resolution? More importantly, why should hoteliers care about and make use of alternative dispute resolution? At its most basic, alternative dispute resolution is exactly what it seems: a way to resolve disputes without recourse to the courts. Alternative dispute resolution, or “ADR,” is generally less expensive, faster and simpler than traditional litigation, and in the fast-paced hotel world it can often be the best option for solving a problem in a fair but convenient forum.

Straight talk about the swine flu and questions from your employees – Vol. 17, No. 5 (September, October)

With everyone talking about, distressed over, and virtually absorbed with the fear of a Swine Flu (H1N1 virus) pandemic as being imminent, undoubtedly, Human Resources personnel and most hotel managers are facing tough questions from their employees.  Some of these questions likely include whether the employer will pay for the Swine Flu vaccination when it becomes available? If an employee gets the Swine Flu, can they claim they got it while they were at work? And can an employee claim a Workers’ Compensation injury related to the Swine Flu?

Poster: “Take 3” actions to fight the flu – Vol. 17, No. 5 (September, October)

Prepared by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) this 11” x 17” color poster reminds employees how they can help fight the spread of the seasonal flue and H1N1 Virus. The poster is ideal for displaying in employee break areas and bulletin boards.

I-9 Enforcement and compliance in the Obama Era for hoteliers – Vol. 17, No. 4 (July, August)

On July 1, 2009, the U.s. Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced that it is launching a stepped-up I-9 audit initiative and issued “Notices of Inspection” to 652 businesses nationwide that same day. This number is substantially greater than the total number of NOIs that were issued throughout the entire last fiscal year, which was 149. I-9 audits are therefore one of the key pieces in the federal government’s strategy of enforcing immigration laws. Since the hospitality industry is under particularly heavy government scrutiny, hoteliers are well-served to ensure that they conduct all I-9 obligations in accordance with the law. Labor law experts Geetha Nadiminti and Don Lee present several best practices for hoteliers to develop the strongest I-9 program to withstand a government audit, and to defend against penalties if it is subsequently necessary.

New development in pregnancy discrimination law is good news for hoteliers – Vol. 17, No. 3 (May, June)

Labor law experts Jaclyn West and Don Lee discuss a recent Supreme Court ruling regarding employee benefits and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act that benefits hotels who employed existing personnel prior to 1979.

The pro-labor legislation of EFCA will have a drastic impact on hoteliers – Vol. 17, No. 2 (March, April)

Introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives the second week of March, the egregiously misnamed Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) could result in a sweeping pro-union overhaul of federal labor law. As we first warned hoteliers over two years ago in a TRC article on this very topic, there is a significant chance that EFCA will become law in the near future, given the Democratic majorities in both congressional houses and that President Obama is a public supporter of EFCA. This article provides a brief overview of the EFCA and offers suggestions for helping hoteliers maintain their union-free status in a post-EFCA world.

Reservations

Four-step formula for converting calls and increasing rooms reservations – Vol. 17, No. 3 (May, June)

Front desk agents and reservationists face a hugely important task every time they answer a phone to take a reservation; they are responsible for turning inquiries into a sale. Although the assignment sounds simple enough, there is an innumerable amount of potential revenue lost each time the sale is not executed correctly. There are many steps front desk agents and reservationists can follow when taking a phone call to effectively build a competitive edge and increase revenue for their property. But four steps are the most critical to achieving success. This article presents a four-step process that will increase call conversions, profits, and guest service.  

Risk Management

Is your hotel ready for winter? Take the time now to check your preparedness – Vol. 17, No. 6 (November, December)

If your hotel is located in an area that can expect snow or ice during the winter months now is the time to stock up on the items the hotel will need to combat weather conditions and maintain a safe environment for guests and staff. This article reminds hoteliers about the various supplies that should be inventoried and the need to review snow and ice treatment procedures. Also included is a sample snow and ice treatment log.

2010 The Rooms Chronicle Calendar and Hotel Evacuation Procedures Checklist. (Poster) – Vol.17, No. 6 (November, December)

Perfect for every hotel department, this full-color, pull-out poster serves both as a “Year at a Glance” calendar for 2010 and a comprehensive checklist for hotel departments to implement in the event that evacuating the hotel becomes necessary.

The start of the year is time to complete a thorough walk-through inspection – Vol. 17, No. 6 (November, December)

Conducting walk-through inspections of the entire lodging property is a good operational practice. This procedure permits “fresh eyes” to review both guest-contact and support areas as well as mechanical and life-safety systems by individuals that do not pass through these areas on a daily basis. It also holds these respective departments accountable to the collective management team of the hotel. Peer review is always a good means to motivate higher performance. While walk-through inspections can be conducted anytime, and certainly on a more frequent interval than annually, the typical slower season associated with the start of the new calendar year is an ideal time to be thorough and initiate new positive practices. This article provides of an overview of the key aspects of a walk-through inspection in eight key areas of a hotel.

Time to review the Hotel and Motel Fire Safety Act and fire protection basics – Vol. 17, No. 5 (September, October)

Fire protection is a subject that must be a management tool in the operation of all lodging establishments, and is worthy of an annual review. October is fire safety month for many organizations. In this article, hotel risk management expert Ray Ellis explains the intent of the Hotel and Motel Fire Safety Act of 1990 and reminds readers to prepare emergency evacuation plans, update their fire standard operating procedures, and inspect and maintain their property’s fire extinguishers.

The Erin Andrews case: A chance for hoteliers to review and improve – Vol. 17, No. 5 (September, October)

By now the facts surrounding the stalking of ESPN sideline reporter Erin Andrews are no doubt known to just about everyone in the hotel industry. This past summer naked videos of Andrews in her hotel room were circulated on the Internet. As a result of the facts in this complaint, the suspect in the case will undoubtedly face significant criminal charges. However, these facts also reveal some hotel management procedures that need to be reviewed and revised so that situations like this do not recur, subjecting hotels to civil liability from their guests who become victims of such criminal behavior on their property. The existence of this case provides a good reminder for hoteliers to review and update their hotel’s policies related to guest privacy.

Managing fire hazards associated with electricity, smoking and on-premise laundries – Vol. 17, No. 5 (September, October)

There are many areas in hotels that pose fire hazards. Presenting a comprehensive overview that addresses each potential hazard could fill volumes of pages, as evidenced by the extensive consensus codes and standards developed and published by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), which are intended to minimize the possibility and effects of fire. Virtually every building, process, service, design, and installation in society today is affected by these NFPA documents. For this article, risk management expert has chosen to briefly discuss three areas that hoteliers can significantly minimize the threat of fire within their hotel by implementing some simple steps pertaining to electricity, smokers, and on-premise laundry hazards.

Recent media “stings” of hotels highlight the constant need for security training – Vol. 17, No. 4 (July, August)

“Media stings” have frequently been a motivator for hotels to clean up their security procedures. Invariably, media outlets have sought to test the security procedures of hotels and the response of its employees, all in the name of open disclosure, viewer education, and investigative journalism. Their plan of attack is simple – create situations that test the hotel’s security protocol, keep the hidden camera rolling, and see what happens. These scenarios almost always involve interactions with hotel employees to “see how they will respond” when confronted with a security-related dilemmas. Unfortunately, hotel security breaches that have made recent headlines suggest that the lodging industry still has far to go to in this realm. Risk management expert Ray Ellis reminds hoteliers about several security protocols designed to increase safety at your hotel and avoid falling prey to a media sting.

There are just some liabilities that cannot be delegated to contractors – Vol. 17, No. 4 (July, August)

In the hospitality industry, independent contractors are often used for such services as security, parking, catering and food service and specialized maintenance and cleaning projects. When an independent contractor is engaged, any liability that may occur when performing the contracted service is generally the responsibility of the contractor that performs the service and not that of the property owner or hotel Management. In the case of many hospitality facilities, especially hotels, there are certain risks that cannot be transferred. These are referred to as “non-delegable duties”. This means that no matter who performs the function, the hotel remains responsible for any damage that may result. In this article, attorney Michael Gentile explains how hotel Management can delegate responsibility for performing certain tasks and maintenance, but they can never relieve themselves from ultimate responsibility regarding the actions/inactions of the contractors or the quality of their workmanship.

Develop and operations strategy to deal with the hotel’s next disaster – Vol. 17, No. 3 (May, June)

Veteran hospitality risk management expert Ray Ellis, Jr. reminds hotel managers that nearly every possible natural disaster that can wreak havoc on a hotel can be planned for in advance. Those hotel managers that fail to develop potential emergency and contingency plans, who fail to stockpile needed supplies, and equally significant, who fail to train their staff members on appropriate response procedures to emergencies, have no real valid defense. Most importantly, the safety and welfare of the guests and employees of the hotel are at stake, not to mention ownerships’ investment and assets, and the future viability of the hotel and the employability of its staff.

Trends in hospitality loss control – Vol. 17, No. 2 (March, April)

2009 is being heralded as an extremely difficult year for the hospitality industry with weakening occupancy figures and softening room rates. Added to this unsettling mix are a couple of rather adverse trends that are surfacing in the area of loss control. Risk management expert Jim Stover warns hoteliers about the potential for disgruntled employees and toxic guests and what steps to take to minimize the potential for tragedies occurring.

Understanding a hotel’s liability for the contents of a guest’s vehicle – Vol. 17, No. 2 (March, April)

Who is responsible for the contents of a guest vehicle parked on hotel premises? This article discusses the legal implications and potential hotel liability for such situations, with a focus on the legal concepts of express notice and foreseeability. Suggestions for limiting liability are included.

Bloodborne pathogens: Review your hotel’s program for compliance – Vol. 17, No. 2 (March, April)

Hotel Management is charged with the responsibility to determine those work assignments where an employee might encounter bloodborne pathogens. An exposure incident may result from non-contact skin, eye, mucous membrane or contact with blood or other potentially infectious material. OSHA establishes potentially infectious materials to include blood and human body fluids that have been determined by the Center for Disease Control to be substances to be handled with “universal precautions.” In this article lodging risk management expert Ray Ellis, Jr. focuses on the exposure determination and methods of compliance aspects of OSHA 29 Code of Federal regulations, Section 1910.1030 pertaining to bloodborne pathogens.

Spring is the time to revisit your hotel’s emergency plan and safety program – Vol. 17, No. 2 (March, April)

Spring frequently brings along turbulent weather with cold fronts and warm fronts colliding, producing thunderstorms, with heavy rain, lightning, winds and occasional tornadoes. Natural emergencies, although infrequent, do happen and the hotel’s Emergency Response Team should be prepared for them. Spring is the logical time to dust off the hotel’s emergency management plan and review the safety program to ensure they are up to date and current for potential emergency situations and to foster a safe work environment.

An economic downturn often leads to instances of employee theft – Vol. 17, No. 1 (January, February)

Unfortunately, an economic downturn usually results in increased instances of criminal activity in society. And hotels are certainly not immune from such escalation; rather, they become increased targets. Dishonest employees are just one category of individuals that may pose a threat to a hotel’s assets. This article discusses common internal theft tactics employed by dishonest hotel employees and provides actionable steps for hoteliers to combat such theft.

Ten slip, trip and fall prevention considerations for hotel managers – Vol. 17, No. 1 (January, February)

In the hospitality industry injuries from slipping, tripping and/or falling are historically one of the top two types of employee injuries. These incidents may result in serious injury to the employee and can be very expensive to the employer. These injuries are frequently preventable if good loss prevention practices are followed. This article addresses some of the most common contributing factors that may lead to an employee sustaining an injury from a slip, trip or fall and explains what hoteliers can do to minimize such risks.

The Law of the hotel parking lot – Vol. 17, No. 1 (January, February)

Hotel parking can take many forms, from open, unmarked and unpaved lots ten blocks away, to an adjacent paved parking lot that can accommodate buses and tractor-trailers to a multi-story parking garage attached to the hotel. In some cases the guest parks their own car and in others the hotel provides valet service. Depending upon any and all of these variables as well as the legal jurisdiction in which the property is located, the liability of the hotel for the guest’s vehicle may be vastly different. This article explains the three legal theories that may apply when trying to understand the law of the parking lot and the liability a hotel may incur for damage to or the theft of a guest’s vehicle.

Sales and Marketing

Market Intelligence for 2010: Ringing in the New Year for hoteliers – Vol. 17, No. 6 (November, December)

Without question, 2009 has been a year of considerable challenge for practically every travel service provider. So, as the year comes to a close, our thoughts turn to the year ahead with the hope that market conditions will improve. And for some in the hotel industry, just “stabilize” would come as welcomed relief. In this article travel marketing expert Peter Yesawich presents the results of Ypartnership’s most recent travelhorizonsTM survey which suggests that hoteliers are not out of the woods yet. And, not surprisingly, value will be in vogue once again.

Suggestions for sales managers to cope with restricted travel budgets of meeting planners – Vol. 17, No. 6 (November, December)

One of the many unfortunate effects of the economic downturn has been a decrease in the number of dollars available for corporations to hold meetings and associations to host conventions. And with many companies’ year-over-year sales figures being down significantly, several incentive trips have also been tabled. Add to that the perception that corporate meetings have been labeled as “frivolous” by various media and political outlets and the situation has become increasingly dire. Sales manager Dustin Personius suggests steps and incentives sales departments can undertake to more effectively market to meeting planners who have more restricted group travel budgets than in previous years.

Onsite targeting boosts bookings with relevant, targeted programs – Vol. 17, No. 4 (July, August)

The World Wide Web has had a dramatic impact on the hospitality industry. Massive call centers necessary to absorb the volume of over-the-phone room bookings have been replaced by booking engine software that is more convenient and efficient for consumers and marketers alike. As the industry has evolved in its technological sophistication, the consumer has evolved at an even more rapid pace, rendering the once advanced booking engine technology less effective and more difficult to scale to changing consumer buying habits. A new technology is needed to fill the cracks that are ever-so-slowly starting to appear in the booking engine’s armor. Fortunately, the necessary technology exists in the form of onsite targeting – the missing piece of a complete direct digital marketing strategy. Onsite targeting, a key component of any direct digital marketing strategy, makes the online booking process more relevant for the guest and more profitable for the marketer.

Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube: Social media marketing for your hotel – Vol. 17, No. 3 (May, June)

Social media marketing has become a unique and creative way to advertise and network with other businesses. With all the different websites that are available, it is hard not to get lost on the World Wide Web. Given that some of these social media networks overlap in membership and content, it can be difficult to determine which ones have the potential to actually increase a hotel’s business and which ones are just wastes of time. This article presents a primer about the most utilized social media sites and their applications for hotel marketing.

New hotel trends: Shorter booking periods, mini-vacations, marketing partnerships, and greater reliance on leisure guests – Vol. 17, No. 2 (March, ApriL)

Social media marketing has become a unique and creative way to advertise and network with other businesses. With all the different websites that are available, it is hard not to get lost on the World Wide Web. Given that some of these social media networks overlap in membership and content, it can be difficult to determine which ones have the potential to actually increase a hotel’s business and which ones are just wastes of time. This article presents a primer about the most utilized social media sites and their applications for hotel marketing.

New hotel trends: Shorter booking periods, mini-vacations, marketing partnerships, and greater reliance on leisure guests – Vol. 17, No. 2 (March, April)

To suggest that the ailing economy has forced significant change in the way the hospitality and tourism industry conducts business may seem an obvious statement. Hotels, airlines, attractions and even restaurants are struggling to anticipate consumer needs while attempting to forecast and maintain profits amid a major market slowdown. The current recession has forced hotel managers to rethink their marketing strategies and implement new tactics in order to generate sufficient revenue to weather the current economic crisis. This article discusses various new purchase and marketing trends that hotel managers must consider.

Volume 16 – 2008

Ask Gail

Ask Gail: How long must hotel records be maintained? – Vol.16, No. 2 (March, April)

In this article, a reader inquires how long business records must be maintained in the hotel’s storage closet before they may be disposed. Gail explains the Statute of Limitations as they apply to business records and provides a chart outlining the require number of year that hotels in each state should maintain their records.

Three techniques for removing tar and gum from hotel carpets – Vol. 16, No. 1 (January, February)

In response to an inquiry from a subscriber, Gail offers three different techniques for removing tar and gum from hotel carpeting without damaging the flooring.

Energy

Hotel energy conservation can be as easy as 1, 2, 3 – Vol. 16, No. 4 (July, August)

The recent change in the cost of energy will have a profound effect on any hotel’s return on investments for energy conservation projects. A project that may have had a two-year return on investment might now have a six-month return, and so on. For hotels that are strapped for cash for energy investments, this article may help them get started on an energy saving program. With energy at its current rates, a hotel’s monthly savings on capital investments for energy conservation will likely be greater than the monthly finance payments, thus giving the hotel a more positive cash flow and increasing the value of the property.

Adjustable speed drives save energy in hotels – Vol. 16, No. 2 (March,  April)

Hotels can realize considerable energy savings by employing an adjustable speed drive on mechanical motors that are utilized for a variety of applications in the lodging industry. Unfortunately, most hotel managers fail to realize this and their property continues to incur excessive energy bills. This article will discuss the various applications of adjustable speed drives and how your hotel might benefit from their use. 

Good and bad energy-related investments for green hotels – Vol. 16, No. 1 (January, February)

Energy conservation projects for hotels which are analyzed properly can provide a return three, four or even five times greater than traditional investments. The result of these projects also returns to the owner in the form of improved assets and human comfort within the hotel facility. In this article, TRC energy expert Phil Sprague reviews both the good and bad forms of green-oriented energy-related investments that a hotelier can spend his money on.

Engineering

Progressive recycling programs for fluorescent lamps available to hotels – Vol. 16, No. 4 (July, August)

Most hotels across the country are finding that they can save energy and money by switching from incandescent to fluorescent lamps in their premises. But while maintaining the “green” status and cutting costs on energy consumption are obviously attractive to any manager, what many might not know is that fluorescent lamps and compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) can pose environmental hazards if they are not disposed of properly. The threat to the environment and increasing government regulations now require hotels to recycle fluorescent lamps or face stiff penalties. This article introduces two unique fluorescent recycling options that will enable hotels to remain compliant and work towards “green” certification.

Self-contained engineering cart increases efficiency and productivity – Vol. 16, No. 4 (July, August)

Few challenges associated with owning or operating a lodging property can be as frustrating as worker productivity issues. Often it seems that hotel engineers or maintenance workers never seem to have the necessary tools or parts to complete a work assignment. Instead of getting the job done quickly and moving on to the next one, they are forced to return to the maintenance shop and search for a misplaced tool or drive to the hardware store to buy a needed hardware item. These diversions can become frustrating and costly; the wasted time cuts into employee efficiency. As this article illustrates, these situations can be avoided through the utilization of a self-contained yet portable maintenance cart that incorporates the vast majority of the tools and parts needed for guestroom repairs and preventive maintenance tasks. The engineering cart can increase productivity, and promote a professional appearance and employee responsibility.

Protecting hotel guests with environmentally friendly pest control – Vol. 16, No. 4 (July, August)

There are numerous ways that hoteliers have implemented green practices to provide a more enjoyable experience for their guests. One of the easiest but least often considered ways to keep hotel guests happy – without them even knowing it – is to reduce the environmental impact of a hotel’s pest control program. Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a holistic approach to pest management that emphasizes source reduction and considers why pests infest a facility in the first place. In this article, pest control expert Patrick T. Copps explains how through IPM, along with other non-chemical green pest control practices, a hotel can ensure that the property remains pest-free, aesthetically pleasing, and a welcome place for guests.

The “inns” and outs of automatic doors for hotels – Vol. 16, No. 3 (May, June)

According to research conducted by The American Association of Automatic Door Manufacturers, 447 participants were asked to assess the level of importance they put on automatic doors at various locations, including hotels and motels. Almost 60 percent of the consumers surveyed expected to find automatic doors at hotels. And when participants were asked to name specific locations where automatic doors are essential yet not sometimes present, shopping malls, hotels/motels and post offices were mentioned the most. Clearly, there is an unmet need for automatic doors in hotels. The reluctance of some hotel operators to install automatic doors could very well stem from a lack of understanding of the benefits, costs and other issues related to automatic doors. As presented in this article, by developing a basic knowledge of these issues, hotel operators can more effectively determine if automatic doors are right for their facility and can save them money. 

From the Editor

From the Editor – Vol. 16, No. 6 (November, December)

Change is in the air…It is hard to believe that the economy’s downfall happened so fast and furious and has permeated nearly every sector of the worldwide economy. And as we well know, the hospitality, travel and tourism industry is the world’s largest industry; third largest in the United States. Its success is directly tied to the spending of discretionary dollars by tourists and businesses and overall consumer confidence. This issue of TRC presents several strategies for hoteliers to consider while we all ride out this economic storm.

From the Editor – Vol. 16, No. 5 (September, October)

As many of our long-term readers know, my role as the executive editor of The Rooms Chronicle® is somewhat of a second full-time job for me. My primary occupation is as an educator. Though a former hotel general manager, I hold the rank of associate professor in the College of Hospitality and Tourism Management at Niagara University. It is here where I conduct research and outreach in hotel operations and educate future lodging managers. In my advocacy as a professor, I am pleased to share the expertise of three of Niagara’s graduates in this issue. Each has distinguished themselves commendably as a hotel manager in a short period of time and shares their wisdom with you here.

From the Editor – Vol. 16, No. 4 (July, August)

We have several first-time contributing authors joining the regular TRC cadre of Phil Sprague, Todd Seiders, Eric Barber, and David Green for this issue. Many of these individuals share a product, service, or innovation that will facilitate hotel managers moving their hotels closer towards Green compliance and LEED certification. Certainly, this is the focus of many lodging properties currently. I also wanted to take a moment and welcome an industry icon to the TRC slate of contributing authors…

From the Editor – Vol. 16, No. 3 (May, June)

Undoubtedly, today’s business climate for hoteliers dealing with employment law issues is a proverbial minefield to be traversed. Managers face hundreds of employment decisions every year, many with significant legal ramifications that will ultimately affect their hotels profitability. Realizing this, the nationally known employment law firm of Ford & Harrison has developed a pre-paid legal hotline service especially for TRC readers. Because of the pre-paid nature of the plan, I am absolutely confident that your investment in the hotline offer will save you significant money in the long run and encourage you to seek competent and reliable legal advice that will enable you to choose the most appropriate course of action that will best serve the interests of your hotel.

From the Editor – Vol. 16, No. 2 (March, April)

Economically, time are tough and getting tougher. The financial markets have seen many downward swings recently, gasoline is well above $3.00 a gallon in nearly every part of the United States now, and everyone is hotly debating whether we are doomed for a recession or whether we have already arrived there. Yet, the Lodging Industry has remained incredibly robust. For a business that relies extensively on the spending of people’s discretionary dollars, something that should normally be restricted during an impending recession, hotels have faired quite well. And will probably continue to do so.

From the Editor – Vol. 16, No. 1 (January, February)

Our first issue of 2008 is chock full of information that is currently affecting the hotel industry and the way in which you operate your hotels. Various topics include: the looming recession and what hoteliers can do to prepare for the cyclical inevitability, what hotel managers need to know about current efforts to mandate paid sick leave for both full-time and part-time employees, good and bad energy-related investments, and email etiquette for hoteliers. Also included in this issue are tips for combating on-the-job theft by employees, creative towel presentation techniques, and legal considerations when renting guestrooms.

Front Office

Hoteliers must be cognizant of the antitrust pitfalls they face everyday – Vol. 16, No. 6 (November, December)

It has been the Federal law since 1890 that a rule of trade in the United States is that there should be free competition. To that end, the Sherman Antitrust Act and later, in 1914, the Clayton Antitrust Act were passed. Unfortunately, throughout the course and scope of employment, there are multiple opportunities for hotel managers to unknowingly violate antitrust laws, and the consequences can be enormous. This article discusses common antitrust pitfalls for hotel managers and how to avoid these situations.

Spend a night in the world’s most luxurious and expensive hotel suite – Vol. 16, No. 6 (November, December)

Imagine floating in the air 700 feet above midtown Manhattan in New York City. Now imagine turning around in a full circle, taking in all the sights the Big Apple has to offer from Central Park, west to the Hudson River, down to the Empire State Building and around to the East River. Now picture being encased in a 4,300 square foot bubble surrounded by 25-foot high, floor to ceiling windows and a marble floor underfoot. This places one on the top floor of New York City’s tallest hotel, the five-star, five-diamond Four Seasons Hotel New York, and in the world’s most expensive suite, the Ty Warner Penthouse. Take a descriptive tour…

Ensure that Fall springs you into 2009 success: Time to reflect and take action – Vol. 16, No. 5 (September, October)

While 2008 is winding to an end quite quickly, it is the time of year that most hotels are creating their 2009 budgets and marketing/sales plans. Most properties conduct this exercise annually. This article is addressed to those hotels that currently do not have this process in place. If this is something that your property does not do annually, perhaps this is the year and now is the time to begin. In this article, revenue management expert Patti Halter provides an overview of how to get started with this process.

Cost segregation for hotels and motels can save owners money – Vol. 16, No. 5 (September, October)

Financial expert Israel Segal explains how hotels and motels can significantly reduce their taxes through a process called “cost segregation”. Cost segregation has become one of the most vital aspects of hotel/motel financing with tax consequences that can significantly add to a facility’s bottom line. According to federal tax laws, cost segregation consists of identifying personal property assets that are grouped with real property assets, then separating personal assets for tax reporting purposes so that depreciation time is dramatically truncated, thus reducing one’s tax obligations.

Hosting youth sports teams requires communication, planning and teamwork – Vol. 16, No. 5 (September, October)

Almost every rooms division employee has noted the collective groan from their operational counterparts when the announcement is made that the sales department has booked a piece of weekend business comprised mostly of youth sports teams. Regardless of whether the sport is hockey, softball, volleyball, football, or dance – most rooms division employees will look forward with dread to incoming sports groups. They will be thinking of the disaster management required to successfully maintain a clean, quiet, and presentable hotel for all paying guests, as well as the time consuming cleanup phase after the groups depart. This article discusses how a hotel can best implement an appropriate course of action to maintain control over its property while hosting such youth groups while delivering memorable experience to all guests. 

Code of conduct agreement for youth sports teams staying in hotels – Vol. 16, No. 5 (September, October)

Developed by a branded select-service hotel, this one page document explains the rules and regulations that will be enforced and outlines what is acceptable and inappropriate behavior from youth sport teams when staying at the hotel. This is an ideal document for all hotels to consider implementing when hosting youth groups.

Video capabilities can increase productivity and profitability – Vol. 16, No. 4 (July, August)

Many hotels, like most other public and private facilities, have long had video cameras installed in various locations throughout their properties. Today, innovative operators are realizing video isn’t just for security and loss prevention anymore; it has become a strategic management tool that can be used to improve customer experience, employee and management productivity, and operational efficiency. As this article illustrates, hoteliers can use the Internet to remotely view live or digitally recorded video from cameras that are located at strategic points within their hotels. By examining this video, general managers, security personnel, operations managers and even owners can all gain a better understanding of what is happening or what happened at any of their properties anywhere in the world, and use that information to improve how they operate, increase their profitability, and improve their guests’ experience.

The most expensive hotel in-room movie in history– Vol. 16, No. 4 (July, August)

In October 2007, a Norwalk, California Superior Court Jury found a limited-service hotel liable for involuntarily subjecting 8 and 9-year old sisters to hard-core pornographic movies during their hotel stay. The jury awarded the mother $85,000 in damages; it held the hotel was liable since it allegedly didn’t have “lock outs” to pornography on its television screens. The award was based on the mother’s claim of emotional distress for her and her daughters as a result of the hotel’s negligence. This article examines the potential impact this court decision holds for other hotels and the steps hoteliers should take to prevent facing a similar suit.

What are your front desk clerks watching? And who is watching them? – Vol. 16, No. 3 (May, June)

Since hotels are “round the clock” operations, Management certainly can’t be in all places at once to supervise personnel, assess potential threats to or from guests or immediately recognize hotel vulnerabilities. But one commonality remains among nearly all hotel properties regardless of size or service level; most hotel front desks are staffed 24 hours a day. In an effort to be more productive and expense conscious, hotel managers sometimes expect too much from desk personnel to the point where this most important surveillance function is frequently compromised, and so too is the safety of the guests and employees and the potential security and financial well-being of the property. This article is a “must read” for all hoteliers who care about their guests, employees, and hotel.

In today’s hotel environment, six steps to ensure guests’ identity and privacy  – Vol. 16, No. 3 (May, June)

A recent identity fraud survey report reveals that 8.4 million Americans were the victims of identity fraud in 2007, totally $49.3 billion or an average of $5,720 per victim. Based on the Federal Trade Commission’s compilation of consumer complaints for that time frame, it was also reported that credit card fraud was the most pervasive form of identity theft of all complaints. Given that hotels house and serve perfect strangers (as our guests) and thus handle financial transactions on a daily basis, lodging facilities are a perfect haven for those who may seek to compromise someone else’s identity through either impersonation of someone else’s identity or use of others’ credit cards, travelers checks, personal checks. Realizing the omnipresent threat that is posed on a daily basis, every hotel has a responsibility to safeguard the identity and financial instruments of its guests to the extent that it can and not serve as the conduit to identity compromise or source of identity theft. In this effort, this article presents six steps that every hotel can and should undertake to do our part to ensure each guest’s identity and privacy.

The prevalence and future of Internet access in hotels – Vol. 16, No. 2 (March, April)

The more technology becomes a necessity in today’s society, whether at home or at the office, the more individuals begin to crave that same technology while on the road. This trend not only includes business travelers but leisure guests as well. It seems that while business travelers need to maintain contact with the office and their clients, leisure travelers have started to become reliant on remaining in contact via email with family and friends during their vacations. Internet access within hotels seems to be the solution for many guests to continue their traveling with the most convenience. This article discusses the results of two recent surveys and explains how much guests are willing to pay for Internet access.    

There is no second chance to make a first impression – Vol. 16, No. 2 (March, April)

Although this is an old cliché, it has never been more apparent than in the hotel industry. Every department of a hotel has specific responsibilities to keep the operation running smoothly and effectively. Guest satisfaction depends on it. However, the front office can play a key role in changing customers’ attitudes positively or negatively. This article discusses how front office personnel have the opportunity to provide guests with a “great experience” as soon as they walk in the front door and this initial contact can have a direct impact on the rest of the guest’s stay.

Developing a rental policy to protect the hotel that is legal – Vol. 16, No. 1 (January, February)

In the last edition of The Rooms Chronicle, there was a discussion surrounding the ability of hotel management to restrict access to their property to persons living within 30 miles of the property in an attempt to curb the use of a hotel to conduct criminal activity. That premise then gave rise to a discussion about the constitutional and legislative requirements which may apply when developing policies for a property that serve to restrict access to rooms to a particular group or class of people. This article examines the analysis a court could go through to determine the legal validity of any policy that limits access. This analysis can be used as a tool by hotel managers to determine the parameters of any policy they seek to institute in order to restrict access to persons seeking to rent a room at their hotel.

Guest Services

The “Cheers” Factor in guest service drives satisfaction, retention, and loyalty – Vol. 16, No. 3 (May, June)

For 11 years of Thursday nights, Norm Peterson made his way down the stairs, to the Cheers Pub in Boston. When he walked through the door and said “Afternoon Everybody!” the reaction was always a warm resounding “NORM!!!” At that moment in Norm’s day, anything that may have caused him irritation, stress, uncertainty, etc. was simply forgotten…for awhile. Norm and the gang got to experience a phenomenon known as the “Cheers” Factor – Taking the understanding of customers to a higher level, to make each interaction a sincere and memorable experience. This article discusses how hotels can create similar guest loyalty utilizing the “Cheers” Factor.

HouseKeeping

Mattress encasements protect guests and a hotel’s reputation – Vol. 16, No. 6 (November, December)

Even if your hotel hasn’t had a reputation-damaging problem, the heightened awareness surrounding bed bugs has encouraged guests to inspect their rooms, particularly the mattress. When guests find staining or bedbugs, complaints ensue. The best way to keep hotel guests happy and prevent mattresses from ending up in the landfill is to fully encase them. Encasements increase the efficiency of the control effort by allowing for early bed bug detection. As this article discusses, controlling bed bugs – and preserving the mattress – can be easy by using an encasement that is proven to be completely bed-bug proof.

Natural ways to kill the lodging industry’s dirty little secrets – Vol. 16, No. 6 (November, December)

Bedbugs are spreading like wildfire across the country, with hot spots in New York City and states such as Florida, Texas and Ohio. They are also living large in the Southwest. One motel owner in New Mexico is paying $63,000 to get rid of them. How bad is it in New York? Last year, there were almost 7,000 bedbug complaints. The number of complaints in 2005: 1,839. In 2006: 4,500. Of course those were not all hotel-related, but hotels and motels have most definitely been hit hard. Glenn Hasek, publisher of Green Lodging News, discusses several green techniques for hotels to eradicate and/or prevent bedbugs infestations.

Hotels nationally donate gently used linens to homeless shelters – Vol. 16, No. 6 (November, December)

Since its inception three years ago, Mission S.O.F.T. has operated within America’s hotel industry to bring a touch of home comforts to homeless families and individuals across the nation. This article explains how area hotels come together and donate gently used linens, including towels, sheets, blankets, pillows, pillowcases and comforters. In partnership with Proctor & Gamble, the hotels launder the linens in Tide® Downy® and Clorox®, and then donate them to homeless shelters.

Announcement about new housekeeping operations textbook – Vol. 16, No. 5 (September, October)

As the #1 journal for hotel rooms management®, The Rooms Chronicle® (TRC) is proud to announce its partnership with the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute with the release of the textbook, Managing Housekeeping Operations – Revised Third Edition. Co-authored by TRC’s founder Aleta A. Nitschke, CHA and TRC’s executive editor, Dr. William D. Frye, this textbook shows what it takes to direct day-to-day operations of the housekeeping department, from big-picture management issues to technical details for cleaning each area.

Does your hotel have housekeeping turnover issues? Refugees to the rescue – Vol. 16, No. 5 (September, October)

So where does a housekeeping manager go when the job market is just not producing the associates that the hotel is looking for? Undoubtedly, every housekeeping manager is looking for motivated, energetic, reliable, and efficient employees. But how do they find such a workforce that is willing to work for near-minimum wage? One answer that should be considered is to recognize the influx of refugees that are coming into the country. This article illustrates how a select-service hotel has been able to reduce its employee turnover and absenteeism while increasing productivity and employee loyalty by hiring refugees who need jobs and are motivated to succeed.

Keeping a fresh look: Maintaining a hotel’s investment in its carpets – Vol. 16, No. 5 (September, October)

One of a hotel’s most important, yet overlooked, assets are the carpets running throughout it: in the guestrooms, hallways, lobby, and even the back of the house. A crisp, clean carpet creates a very positive and lasting impression among guests, patrons and even employees. The first impression of guests and patrons is crucial in conveying a sense of cleanliness and care. This article explains simple steps using standard floor care equipment that housekeepers may employ to maintain the hotel’s substantial investment in its carpets, while saving money in the long run.

Hotel drinking glasses must be properly sanitized…or else! – Vol. 16, No. 5 (September, October)

Now, in present day, a new guest concern is sweeping the industry – guestroom drinking glasses. This past year has revealed numerous exposés by investigative journalists about the glassware cleaning practices employed by room attendants. Hotels at all price points, brands, and service levels have been targeted. The results are quite disturbing. Through a review of recent undercover investigations and interviews, this article emphasizes the criticality of proper sanitation of guestroom drinking glasses and mugs when cleaning guestrooms.

Four simple steps for housekeeping managers considering “going green” – Vol. 16, No. 4 (July, August)

It seems that both in the hotel industry and in general society, everyone is talking green these days, and for good reason. For housekeeping managers, there are many benefits to “going green” including improvement in the hotel’s indoor air quality, increase in employee productivity and morale, reduction in sick days and associated healthcare costs, and a reduction in water usage, air pollution, and product waste. However, some managers are still hesitant to develop and implement a green cleaning program. For those who fit in that category, this article presents four simple steps to help get started.

Why hotel furniture asset management shouldn’t be swept under the carpet – Vol. 16, No. 4 (July, August)

During lean economic times, some hotel owners may attempt to cut costs and reduce services in order to save money. One aspect may include deferring capital investments projects for a hotel’s furniture, fixtures and equipment. This articles discusses how a single location bed & breakfast or a worldwide hotel chain with thousands of rooms per location can maximize return on its furniture investment through proper grading, tracking, maintaining, and managing furniture assets in order to save money.

Communication tips for housekeeping personnel – Vol. 16, No. 3 (May, June)

In the housekeeping profession there are several methods of communication that managers employ on a daily basis. Yet, it is no surprise that communication gaps exists in housekeeping departments as frequently employees speak languages other than English. In this article Veteran housekeeping manager David Green shares various techniques to bridge the communication gap and ensure effective two-way communication with housekeeping employees.

Missed opportunities to ensure quality and consistency – A day in the life of a bed sheet – Vol. 16, No. 3 (May, June)

Veteran hotel manager Tim Burns analogizes how reality television shows record real people doing stuff in real life. So, what if hotel managers could have this at their hotel and really see what is happening in their daily operations? In this case study of how things can go wrong in hotel operations, he presents the idea of “a day in the life of a bed sheet”.

“Pay-per-room” cleaning can save time and labor expense while increasing service scores and room attendant satisfaction – Vol. 16, No. 3 (May, June)

It is widely known that the highest cost of business in a hotel is labor, and that Rooms Division employees constitute the bulk of the labor cost in any hotel. Therefore, the quandary that hotel managers are faced with is this: How to balance the pressure from owners and stakeholders to keep labor costs down, yet still maintain a competitive advantage when it comes to retention of quality employees? One solution to the problem of labor disparity and inequity between housekeeper work levels is that of the “pay-per-room” model. This model operates on the basis that housekeepers can clean a set amount of rooms/credits in an eight-hour day. It then divides the total number of rooms to be cleaned by the hourly pay received for eight hours of work in order to come up with the “per-room payment”. From a guest, owner, and associate perspective, this program can be a huge success affording greater flexibility for managers. The hotel will realize bottom line gains from this program, and housekeepers will be motivated to do their jobs effectively and efficiently.

When training new housekeeping employees, “Think outside of the triangle” – Vol. 16, No. 2 (March, April)

Have you figure it out yet? Training is a big deal, if not an investment in the human capital that drives any hotel’s housekeeping department. If you look at all the truly successful companies, you will see a strong emphasis placed on training. Maybe it’s time we think “Outside of the triangle, instead of outside the box”. After considering the three main points in this article, take a look at your training process to see how you can make it more fun-filled and informative.

Duvet covers: An upcoming trend that promotes cleanliness – Vol. 16, No. 2 (March, April)

One of the top trends in the hotel industry concerning its guestrooms focuses on the bed. Major hotels are coming up with innovations to provide more comfort since the development of Westin Hotel’s “Heavenly Bed” debut in 1999. Along with the demands of comfort, the use of duvet covers provides a certain aspect of cleanliness as well. This article discusses the various benefits that duvet covers provide to guests and to hoteliers. 

Documenting employee performance through housekeeping checklist – Vol. 16, No. 1 (January, February)

As hotel managers are well aware, standards of cleanliness and presentation are established by each brand, corporate office, or owner, and it is the responsibility of the general manager and housekeeping leadership team to ensure that these standards are met. Unfortunately, some less conscientious housekeeping employees may not heed standards as well as others. They often seek shortcuts to complete their allotment of assigned rooms or guest floors. When this happens, cleanliness and appearance take a back seat to convenience and rapidity. As this article discusses, this is where checklists can serve as both a reminder to the employee and as an inspection and documentation tool for assessment and progressive discipline measures.

Housekeeping Cart Inspection Checklist & Guest Floor Inspection Checklist (insert) – Vol.16, No. 1 (Page: 1 and 2 – January, February)

Inserted in this issue of The Rooms Chronicle are two housekeeping inspection checklists, one for room attendant’s carts and the other for housemen guest floor duties. These are a great way to remind new trainees about their various duties and for them to refer to when stocking their housekeeping carts at the start of their shift. These checklists are intended to augment those provided in the July/August 2007 issue of TRC, which included Technical Skills Training Checklists for new room attendants and lobby attendants.

Small but creative housekeeping touches that cost little but will impress guests – Vol. 16, No. 1 (January, February)

Cleanliness is the guest’s main concern when staying at a hotel. It’s easy to keep a room clean, but it the small, creative touches that will make a hotel stand out from all the others. This article discusses a few of the creative touches that housekeepers can implement, though the primary focus is on towel creations and how to make them.

Human Resources

Promissory estoppel: Be careful what you say in an employee handbook – Vol. 16, No. 5 (September, October)

A court recently determined that an employer was obligated to allow an employee to take unpaid leave from his job through the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) because of a policy contained in its employee handbook, even though the employee seeking leave was not otherwise an eligible employee for FMLA. In this article, hospitality labor law attorney Don Lee explains the importance of ensuring that hotel employee handbooks and policies are carefully drafted and accurately reflect the employer’s intent.

Hiring for fit: Eight suggestions for creating an effective interview and selection process – Vol. 16, No. 5 (September, October)

In the lodging industry, as in every industry experiencing tough competition and financial pressures, hiring the right people to join the team is one of the most important decisions managers make. The cost of a bad selection can be expensive. It has been calculated to be, at minimum, six months to a year of the annual compensation for an hourly employee, and two to three times the annual salary for a supervisor or manager. The most important element of the selection decision is the interview. Interviewing is not a simple process; it is a complex skill that most managers don’t use frequently. Here are eight suggestions for creating an effective interview and selection process.

The new role of Human Resources will help the bottom line of hotels – Vol. 16, No. 3 (May, June)

In today’s work environment, managers are required to multitask and to perform additional responsibilities. There is so much attention being placed on the daily activities of the operation, that many of the internal relationship expectations are becoming an afterthought with the management team. This article explains how a hotel’s Human Resources department can help maintain their focus by becoming more involved in the day to day operation and communicating the mission to staff at all levels of the hotel.

Employment law “hotline” is a unique opportunity for TRC subscribers – Vol. 16, No. 3 (May, June)

The Rooms Chronicle® has established a strategic agreement with Ford & Harrison LLP, one of the nation’s leading hospitality employment and labor law firms, to make high quality legal advice readily available at an affordable cost to hoteliers who seek immediate guidance on employment and labor law matters. This article provides details about this unique offering available especially for TRC subscribers.

Changes to the FMLA will pose long term ramifications for hotels – Vol. 16, No. 2 (March, April)

For the first time since its enactment in 1993, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) has received long awaited attention from the Department of Labor (DOL) and Congress. Proposed regulations have been introduced to clarify key provisions and amendments which have been enacted to expand the scope of leave permitted under the Act. On January 23, 2008, President Bush signed into law an amendment expanding the FMLA to provide eligible employees, including next of kin, with protected leave to care for a family member injured in the Armed Forces or for any “qualifying exigency” when a family member in the Armed Forces is on active duty or is called into active duty. The provisions which the DOL has issued proposed regulations and their ramifications for hoteliers are discussed.

Newer alternatives for obtaining legal representation in employment matters – Vol. 16, No. 2 (March, April)

Hoteliers must comply with an ever-increasing number of employment laws covering a broad range of areas, such as wage/hour, employee leaves of absence, discrimination, labor relations, and safety. More and more lawsuits and administrative actions are being filed by current and former employees. In this operating environment, many hoteliers are looking for cost-effective ways to make more informed employment-related decisions on the front end as a preventive measure. For problems that arise after the decision has been made, hoteliers are seeking to minimize their liability and expenses when they find themselves embroiled in a legal dispute. This article discusses options to which hoteliers have turned to accomplish these objectives.

Emerging concern for hoteliers: Paid sick leave. From benefit to mandate? – Vol. 16, No. 1 (January, February)

An estimated 70 million working Americans lack sick time benefits. Proponents of paid sick leave laws say this is a problem that needs to be fixed. Politicians at the city, state and national levels have lent a sympathetic ear. In 2007, San Francisco became the first locale in America to require employers to provide employees with paid sick leave. Other cities, states and, perhaps even the nation, may soon follow San Francisco’s lead. Labor law attorney Don Lee discusses the potential impact for hoteliers of this imminent legislation.

People Skills

Top ten things that hotel managers do to lose their best employees – Vol. 16, No. 6 (November, December)

Yes, some of your most talented (and seemingly dedicated) hotel employees may leave you for financially greener pastures, but many others will stay longer and excel when they have a great boss and a superior working environment. Experience has shown us that there are some great managers out there who are able to successfully retain their most talented and mission-critical performers, and some that are not so great. Much can be learned (by what not to do) from these ineffective hotel managers. Here is a top ten list of practices that worst hotel managers believe or do to lose their best employees.

Tips for welcoming international guests to your hotel – Vol. 16, No. 2 (March, April)

The Travel Industry Association forecasts that the number of international travelers visiting the United States will grow by more than 3% annually in 2008, 2009 and 2010 with spending for these respective years projected to be $98.6 billion, $105.7 billion, and $112.9 billion. International visitors are an important tourism market segment and represent a tremendous economic benefit to our communities, often spending double what the domestic visitor spends and staying longer. So now do a quick assessment. Could you be more prepared to welcome international visitors? Here are some tips to help make your international guests feel more welcome.

When is discrimination not discrimination? When guests violate “house rules” – Vol. 16, No. 2 (March, April)

It has become common knowledge that the “D word” — that is…discrimination — strikes fear in the hearts of business owners and managers, and hotel proprietors are no different. There is an unbridled perception that if a customer infers discrimination and the legal remedies that goes with it, Management will capitulate and the customer will get whatever he or she wants. But it is important for hotel managers to understand and assert their rights to operate their lodging properties under reasonable house rules that they establish, even in the face of such allegations.

Email etiquette for hoteliers – An overview – Vol. 16, No. 1 (January, February)

With the invention of email, the world of convenience has been taken to a new level. The proverbial game of “telephone tag” has been dramatically downsized. The cost involved with many types of mailings has also decreased and, in general, our ability to save time and speed up decision making all have led to a more effective work environment. There are many different opinions that surround what is considered to be proper email etiquette; however, there are certain basic pointers that can be given to enhance its’ effectiveness. This article offers suggestions pertaining to email privacy, e-grammar, email responses, formatting, flaming, and printing. 

Thank you TRC subscribers for helping to educate the leaders of tomorrow – Vol. 16, No. 1 (January, February)

Did you know that subscriptions to The Rooms Chronicle® help prepare future hotel managers? Subscriptions to TRC contribute to the practical industry applications focus of students in Niagara University’s College of Hospitality and Tourism Management. Through the sales of subscriptions, The Rooms Chronicle® contributes funding to many initiatives that collectively comprise the College’s practical industry applications focus. The support of all TRC subscribers helps to make a difference in the hospitality education provided by Niagara University. 

Reservations

Effectively managing user generated content to yield more reservations – Vol. 16, No. 4 (July, August)

The recent economic downturn has definitely had a substantial effect on how consumers shop and their booking habits, and hotels must be certain to ensure they are now doing everything possible to leverage business to their properties by staying astutely in touch with these habits. Specifically, user generated content (UGC) continues to grow in its prominence among travelers, and hoteliers must understand the basic essentials in dealing with UGC and use it to increase conversions from relevant booking channels. TRC electronic distribution expert Eric Barber explains the basis for, the impact of, and the potential benefits that hoteliers can derive from user-generated content from travel blogs, corporate travel websites, and online travel agencies. 

Is a recession looming? How hotels can prepare for an inevitable economic downturn – Vol. 16, No. 1 (January, February)

Globally, the hospitality industry has been enjoying some very successful consecutive years of growth, despite some bumps on the way such as oil prices, currency exchange rates and border and passport issues. However, the future is potentially uncertain; a recession in the United States is looming, and this will have consequences for the tourism industry, not only in the U.S., but possibly worldwide. In this article, TRC reservations expert Eric Barber explains what each hotelier should do to prepare for a possible economic downturn. 

Risk Management

Summary Analysis of the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa safety Act (poster) – Vol. 16, No. 6 (November, December)

The Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act (Act) promotes the safe use of pools, spas and hot tubs by imposing mandatory federal requirements for suction entrapment avoidance and by establishing a voluntary grant program for states with laws that meet certain minimum requirements as outlined in the Act. Effective December 20, 2007, the Act is being administered by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). The U.S. government mandates that all hotels with pools, spas, and hot tubs are required to comply with this act by December 20, 2008.

2009 The Rooms Chronicle Calendar and Hotel Evacuation Procedures Checklist. (Poster) – Vol.16, No. 6 (November, December)

Perfect for every hotel department, this full-color, pull-out poster serves both as a “Year at a Glance” calendar for 2009 and a comprehensive checklist for hotel departments to implement in the event that evacuating the hotel becomes necessary.

Seven steps to reduce Workers Compensation costs and develop a winning safety strategy – Vol. 16, No. 6 (November, December)

In this article, risk management expert Ray Ellis, Jr. reminds hoteliers that safety and related Workers Compensation insurance costs should not be overlooked, especially in faltering economy. To this end, a comprehensive safety strategy should be developed for each hotel. Seven actionable steps are presented for hotel managers to reduce Workers Compensation costs and increase workplace safety.

More money-saving risk management strategies for hotels in lean economic times – Vol. 16, No. 6 (November, December)

During this current slowdown in the economy, and with the possibility that it will continue for at least another year, now is a great time for each hotel to review its risk management and loss prevention strategies. In this article hotel risk management expert Todd Seiders offers suggestions to help your hotel save money and minimize risk and loss.

October is National Fire Protection Month: Is your hotel really fire-protection ready?  – Vol. 16, No. 5 (September, October)

In this article hotel risk management expert Ray Ellis, Jr. reminds hoteliers about their many responsibilities related to ensuring a hotel environment that is protected against an outbreak of fire. Recent statistics related to the number and severity of hotel fires are presented, as is a fire-protection readiness status report for all engineering and security managers to consider.

Four challenges of managing risk during an economic downturn – Vol. 16, No. 4 (July, August)

Consider this scenario: What happens when hotel occupancy, food & beverage, and events income is down? The hotel’s long-term and short-term economic future is unsure and, based upon the immediate economic outlook espoused by business naysayers and hotel veterans alike, it is time for drastic action. Most hotel managers will immediately think that with the reduction in activities and income, there can be no justification for maintaining current staffing and security levels. Hotel industry safety and security veteran Ray Ellis, Jr. presents four risk management challenges that hotel managers will need to address when contemplating these actions.

Ten points to help ensure a safe work environment for hotel employees – Vol. 16, No. 2 (March, April)

“Safety is everyone’s job in the workplace.”  There is no disputing this. Yet, when it comes to minimizing risk, or worse, defending against claims of liability in the workplace, it is often the employer, as represented by Management, which is held legally accountable for injuries incurred by staff members. This means quite simply that each and every manager bears the legal and ethical responsibility to monitor workplace environs, take immediate action to correct or warn about known dangers, and to promote and maintain amongst departments and staff safe work practices. Short and sweet, here are ten points for every hotel manager to embrace to help ensure a safer workplace.

Preventing on-the-job theft: Tips for reducing employee theft and credit card fraud – Vol. 16, No. 1 (January, February)

The U.S. Small Business Administration reports employee theft as the major cause of business failures for the small business enterprise. And while random acts of theft and collusion, in whatever guise, will unlikely bring down the larger corporation or one of its facilities, an insider scam can do significant damage to the bottom line of any hotel property. This article presents tips for reducing theft by employees and provides actionable advice on how to prevent credit card fraud in hotels.

Sales and Marketing

Challenges of the recession force hotels to rethink their marketing strategies – Vol. 16, No. 6 (November, December)

Recently, the travel industry is being dealt yet another blow as consumers tighten their purse strings in uncertainty of the financial road ahead. Hoteliers, especially in leisure-driven destinations, are faced with the challenge of meeting revenue and budget goals, increasing occupancy levels, and trimming expenses, all while maintaining service levels and, in many cases, brand integrity. This comes amid competition for the discretionary dollar becoming fiercer than at any time in recent memory. This article discusses these challenges and offers short-term solutions for hotels to maintain competitiveness and profitability and drive up occupancy.

Present day competition for guests’ money poses unique challenges for hotels – Vol. 16, No. 3 (May, June)

Competition for the discretionary dollar has become increasingly fierce in recent years and, to a greater extent, in recent months as a perfect storm of domestic economic instability, decreased consumer purchasing power, and significant overseas demand for American economic staples continues to gather steam. This has forced Americans to make some drastic choices in how they choose to spend their discretionary income. Because the economic success of the hotel industry is heavily dependent on the flow of discretionary spending, lodging industry professionals need to understand that the landscape of competition is changing dramatically and unique marketing strategies and sales techniques will need to be implemented full force in order to stay afloat. This article identifies immediate threats that hoteliers face to earn guests’ discretionary dollars and offers suggestions on how to achieve this in an unstable financial market. 

Major sporting events and their effect on hotel occupancy – Vol.16, No. 1 (January, February)

Super Bowl XLII has come to a successful conclusion; the New England Patriots fell short of their quest for perfection and the New York Giants stunned the sporting world with perhaps one of greatest Super Bowl upsets ever. However, perhaps the biggest winners in all of this are the hotel owners and operators in the Greater Phoenix Area. Mega-sport events like the Super Bowl and the Olympics bring large crowds needing overnight accommodations. There are a variety of ways to take advantage of these events and enhance occupancy rates, both during the event and for future bookings. As this article reveals, the key is preparation. 

Volume 15 – 2007

Ask Gail

Question about toilet leaks and replacing flapper valves – Vol. 15, No. 5 (September, October)

Dear Gail: I am the general manager at a 126 room limited-service hotel. My maintenance supervisor wants to replace the rubber flapper valve inside the tank of every toilet in the hotel on an annual basis. He has requested to expend almost $600 in labor and supplies to do this. As I am getting pressure from the owner to minimize expenses, is this really prudent? I look forward to your reply.

Determining why Housekeeping guest service scores are low – Vol. 15, No. 4 (July, August)

Dear Gail: In relation to our other departments, the guest service scores for our Housekeeping department have been extremely low for the past year. Though the Housekeeping manager has been with us for several years, nearly all of the guestroom attendants have been employed with us for less than two years. I am not sure what has caused the perceived level of service and Cleanliness to suffer; and the housekeeping manager has no idea either. Do you have any suggestions where to start so we can raise the GS scores immediately? 

How can I remove scuff marks from no wax floors? – Vol. 15, No. 3 (May, June)

Dear Gail: The lobby of our hotel is made up of light-colored tiles and similar white marble surface. Since the flooring is “no-wax” we get a lot of black streaks from rubbersoled shoes and black scuff marks from ladies’ high heels. Do you have any suggestions how to quickly and easily remove these scuffs and streak marks without closing off sections of the lobby for floor buffing? 

Energy

Save energy and money in stairwells by choosing the right lighting options – Vol. 15, No. 6 (November, December)

For safety and to meet OSHA Requirements, stairwell lighting is typically required to run 24-hours a day, 7-days a week. Tests have been conducted using data loggers that suggest hotel stairwells are occupied 1% to 3% of the time. Another problem noted in almost all hotels is that stairwells are significantly “over lighted.” Using a simple light meter during our hotel energy audits, we have noted it is not unusual to find most stairwells providing up to 50 foot-candles of light throughout. By comparison, this is the light level recommended for a drafting room. OSHA Requirements specify an average of 15 foot-candles throughout the stairwell. This can be accomplished, for example, by having 10 foot-candles on one landing and 30 foot candles on the next.

Time to get serious about water conservation – Here are several steps to get started – Vol. 15, No. 4 (July, August)

Most people do not believe there is a serious shortage of potable domestic water in the United States. Because of our massive natural resource of fresh water, to some degree they are correct. While the problem may not be a shortage of water overall, the more serious problem is that much of the water is not in the major metropolitan areas where most of it is consumed. As with energy conservation, there are countless ways hotel operators can conserve water in their property without adversely effecting guest comfort whatsoever.

Advances in toilet technology pump up potential for water savings – Vol. 15, No. 3 (May, June)

High-efficiency toilets (HETs) can save thousands of gallons of water per guestroom over a year’s time, reducing expenses and preserving valuable natural resources. That is good news for hoteliers, especially those with hotels in the Southwest where water rates are higher. No matter where you are, HETs make sense.

Twenty proven ways to save energy in limited-service hotels – Vol. 15, No. 3 (May, June)

Limited-service hotels are typically smaller than full-service hotels, but nowadays, have much of the luxury of the larger properties. Limited-service hotels typically are two to three stories high, with a small indoor pool, and most of them have a small buffet-style dining area, usually for breakfast. One of the most notable characteristics is that almost all of them heat and cool their guestrooms and other spaces with package terminal air conditioners (PTACs). After performing audits on many of these hotels across the country, we have noticed that there are about 20 definitive and very cost effective ways to reduce energy consumption without directly affecting guest comfort. 

Renovate not just for appearances, but also to realize energy savings – Vol. 15, No. 2 (March, April)

About every four to five years, most hotels undergo a major renovation which includes soft goods, hard goods and wall coverings. Frequently, new light fixtures are installed in corridors and public spaces as well. Most carpeting is removed and replaced throughout the hotel. Needless to say, this results in large sections of the hotel becoming uninhabitable with all interior finishes and furnishings completely removed. This circumstance provides an excellent opportunity to implement the “dirty-by-nature” major cleaning and repair of heating, cooling and ventilating equipment. 

Engineering

The heat is on: A new treatment for mold that doesn’t need any chemicals to do its job – Vol. 15, No. 2 (March, April)

Why would a hotelier possibly want to heat up his or her building? Perchance, the hotel or resort has had complaints regarding unsightly mold, and management is concerned about their guests as well as the financial viability of the business. If so, hotel engineers might want to consider what heat treatment can do for their property. A new environmental remediation technology known as the ThermaPure® heat treatment process uses superheated air to treat various environmental concerns.

From the Editor

From the Editor – Vol. 15, No. 6 (November, December)

I wanted to take this time to thank all of our subscribers for another great year at The Rooms Chronicle®. With the delivery of this issue we have reached two milestones. One milestone represents the culmination of fifteen years of service to the lodging industry. The second milestone is that it has now been five years since Niagara University’s College of Hospitality and Tourism Management has been publishing TRCSM.

Front Office

Improving profitability can be achieved by focusing on four management areas – Vol. 15, No. 6 (November, December)

Maximizing profitability is a key practice in most businesses, as it should be, and there are an equal number of opportunities to find or improve existing profit levels. In today’s ever increasing business environment and technological advancements, businesses continually strive to create more profit. The hotel industry is no different, but has the added complexity of public service. This means we cannot afford to negatively impact customer service.

To what classes of individuals may a hotel refuse to rent guestrooms to? – Vol. 15, No. 6 (November, December)

In a recent edition of the Columbia, Mo. Daily Tribune, a story appeared about a man from Moberly, Mo. who tried to rent a room in the city in which he resided while the wood floors in his home were being refinished. He was told at two hotels, both national chains operating in his home town, that each had a policy of not renting rooms to local residents. Each hotel had a policy that hotel guests must live at least 30 miles away to rent a room. The article cites a Columbia, Mo. police officer who states that local refusal policies are common and are used by hotels to prevent criminal activity from taking place in hotels. But the incident raises a broader question as to what policies and restrictions hotels can place on various groups of individuals to prevent them from renting rooms, merely based upon the fact that they are members of a particular class of people. This becomes important because a policy that prevents a class of persons from access to a lodging property may serve to deprive the individuals in that class of their civil rights or constitutional rights, exposing the property to liability under state and/or federal laws.

Management companies – Choose your dance partner wisely or get tripped up – Vol. 15, No. 6 (November, December)

Recently, the third-party management company “industry” has grown tremendously. A third-party management company is a company that manages a hotel for the owner(s). Normally, an owner may not have the time, desire, or professional expertise to manage a hotel asset that he or she owns. In this case, third-party companies compete on their ability to improve the overall operation of the hotel and to persuade an owner that their particular management style, knowledge, or marketing/sales skills will push the owner’s profits “over the top” compared to other such expert consultant companies.

Safe deposit box procedures must be followed to avoid unlimited liability – Vol. 15, No. 5 (September, October)

Nearly every hotel makes safe deposit boxes available for the convenience of their guests. Realistically, very few travelers actually make use of these boxes to safeguard their most important valuables. Nevertheless, it is incumbent that front desk personnel follow a hotel’s established safe deposit procedures exactly to ensure the safety of guests’ deposited belongings, promote a sense of confidence amongst guests who do deposit their valuables with the hotel, and most significantly, minimize potential hotel liability in the event a claim is filed against the hotel by a depositor.

Nine steps to effectively assist a guest when their credit card is declined – Vol. 15, No. 4 (July, August)

Obtaining a method of payment is a key part of the registration process during hotel check-in. The most common method of payment used in hotels is the credit card. Credit cards are one of the easiest ways to pay. With one swipe, instant authorization, and the guest is on their way. Unfortunately, that one swipe can lead to some undesirable circumstances. As with any variety of businesses within the service industry, there will come a time when a front desk representative may have to inform a guest that their credit card has been declined. While this may not be everyone’s favorite situation to face, there is little that a hotel can do to prevent such an occurrence from happening.

Guest Services

Mandatory gratuities pose a potential legal dilemma for hotels – Vol. 15, No. 4 (July, August)

In April of this year, a class action lawsuit was initiated in the state of Washington against Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide, Inc. for breach of their lodging contract. The suit seeks to certify as plaintiff, a nationwide class of consumers, who as hotel guests, Starwood collected mandatory “bell gratuity” and “housekeeping gratuity” charges. The essence of the breach of contract claim is that certain Starwood hotels imposed these additional mandatory charges above and beyond the per-night room rate agreed upon at the time of reservation. While the legality of the charges and the procedures used are still to be litigated, this article will examine the possibilities of assessing “gratuity” charges in lodging contracts. 

HouseKeeping

Advanced technologies in hotel sanitation save money and foster a “green” climate – Vol. 15, No. 6 (November, December)

Since 1847, when chlorine was first used as a sanitizer, there have been few if any alternatives to the useful, effective, but often dangerous substances known as chemical sanitizers. Today there is a device that combines three simple elements, water, salt and electricity to create a sanitizer that has proven in independent laboratory tests to be more effective at 50 parts per million than chlorine bleach at 200 parts per million, and a sodium hydroxide compound that can reduce or in some cases, eliminate the need for soaps and detergents in a variety of housekeeping applications.

Ten steps to guest-room deep cleaning will maintain your hotel investment – Vol. 15, No. 6 (November, December)

Deep cleaning is the process of taking a room out of a hotel’s salable inventory and thoroughly cleaning it to more exacting standards than is normally performed during the daily housekeeping maintenance. Most guestrooms are deep cleaned between two and four times a year depending on the occupancy level of the hotel. Because higher occupancy results in more wear and tear on the furniture, fixtures, equipment and infrastructure of guestrooms, a hotel that experiences higher occupancy will need to deep clean its guestrooms on a more frequent basis than a lodging facility with lower overall occupancy.

Motivating room attendants to clean better and pay attention to detail – Vol. 15, No. 5 (September, October)

Every housekeeping manager realizes that probably the hardest part of their job is to motivate their staff to pay attention to detail so that the highest levels of cleanliness can be maintained and guest expectations will be met. Given that cleaning guestrooms is repetitive and strenuous work, and realizing that many room attendants are often paid at the lower end of wage scales, how can a housekeeping manager motivate his or her employees to pay attention to detail, or to work harder?

Four easy steps to achieving the “ultimate fold” for hotel towels – Vol. 15, No. 5 (September, October)

We have all noticed the huge bedding trend by many hotels to add comfort and quality to a guest’s stay, but there are many more amenities in a room than just a bed. One of the most used items during the guest stay is the towel. From the face cloth to the almighty pool towel, an consistent fold can convey a property image of cleanliness and comfort and prolong the life of your hotel’s substantial terry investment.

Thread count basics every housekeeping manager should know – Vol. 15, No. 2 (March, April)

The housekeeping department’s main responsibility is to satisfy hotel guests by delivering a clean and comfortable lodging environment both inside and outside of the guestroom. One of the ways to ensure guest satisfaction is to provide guests with an outstanding sleep experience while they are away from home. Utilizing bed linens that appeal to the guests’ senses yet which are maintainable and cost effective should be a prime consideration for every housekeeping manager.  

Human Resources

Racially hostile work environment created by co-worker singing – Vol. 15, No. 6 (November, December)

Debates over the lyrics contained in rap and hip hop songs have been featured heavily in the news in the past year. It seems like everyone has an opinion about what should or shouldn’t be said in a rap song. Think that the contents of rap songs don’t affect you as an employer? Think again.

Employees on the “mommy track”: Hoteliers should proceed with caution – Vol. 15, No. 6 (November, December)

Hoteliers are well aware that federal law protects pregnant employees from discrimination; however, more recently states and the federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission are noticing a rise in bias claims brought by primary childcare givers, bringing new attention to issues faced by female employees in the workforce.

Misclassifying hotel workers as independent contractors could lead to costly liability – Vol. 15, No. 5 (September, October)

In recent months, several states, including New York, New Jersey and Connecticut, have implemented enforcement plans against employers that wrongfully misclassify workers as independent contractors rather than employees. The increased scrutiny from federal and state agencies demonstrates that hoteliers must be on alert to ensure their independent contractors are properly classified.

Technical Skills Training – Vol. 15, No. 4 (July, August)

Checklists for Room and Lobby Attendants

Employee handbooks and confidentiality: A potential pitfall for hoteliers – Vol. 15, No. 3 (May, June)

In a decision with consequences for thousands of hoteliers, a federal court recently determined that an employee handbook with a broadly worded confidentiality provision could violate federal law if it prohibits employees from discussing wages and benefits with co-workers.

Missed breaks and off-the-clock work can lead to enormous jury awards – Vol. 15, No. 1 (January, February)

With the rise in wage and hour claims, and their potential for steep penalties, hoteliers should be vigilant about monitoring hourly employees. The number and scope of lawsuits brought under wage and hour laws is on the rise. Not only are claims being made under federal law, but many cases, including an increasing number of class actions, are being brought under state laws throughout the country.

People Skills

Hotel common sense – Orientation for all staff is essential for lasting success – Vol. 15, No. 6 (November, December)

A comprehensive orientation process for new employees can alleviate bewilderment, instill confidence in new hires, and put all new employees on the same sheet of music. In short, a standardized, but thorough, new employee orientation can reap big dividends in employee retention, staff productivity and employee job satisfaction. Here is a list of various points of information that should be incorporated into every hotel’s new employee orientation session.

Five key rules to be a more effective General Manager – Vol. 15, No. 3 (May, June)

The concept of “inn” (and Innkeeper) was originally established 2,000 years ago by the Romans to simply service travelers on their legendary European highway network. Today’s hotel and motel General Managers (GMs) have quickly evolved into much more than simple innkeepers. Currently, finance, operations, staffing, sales, service, brand standards, safety and liability, and many other issues pull general managers in many different directions. At Best Western, our North American properties have experienced Regional Service Managers who can help a GM utilize not only the vast resources of Best Western but also assist the operation to maximize its potential. While each property is unique, there are many methods to become a more effective General Manager that apply to every hotel, motel and inn. Here are five imperative rules for every general manager’s consideration.

Reservations

Understanding leisure guests enables hotels to satisfy their needs – Vol. 15, No. 4 (July, August)

The increasing number of individuals traveling for pleasure creates opportunities for hotels and resorts to make a positive impression on their guests and inspire positive feedback and loyal patronage. Marketing programs that reward frequent guests for loyal patronage are just one method hoteliers can utilize in order to increase their chances of seeing repeat business. Reward programs, though, are just the beginning and hoteliers can take a few additional steps to ensure their guests have an enjoyable experience and want to return.

Risk Management

OSHA Poster – Vol. 15, No. 6 (November, December)

Job Safety and Health — It’s The Law!

Identify and prioritize risks to help control crisis situations – Vol. 15, No. 5 (September, October)

A “crisis” is the very tense moment, the unstable or crucial time, when how you react determines whether what happens next is in or out of control. If you and your staff don’t have a prepared, learned response for risks that materialize, chaos and mistakes will follow. If you have a plan and follow it, administering aid to critically injured guests will still be gut wrenching, smoke from a fire will still burn your lungs, and terminating employees will still be an emotional strain, but it will be a controlled part of a difficult job, not something that ends up as bad publicity on the local TV news.

Transfer your risk…Don’t get stuck paying for something you didn’t do – Vol. 15, No. 4 (July, August)

“Risk Management” is the process of measuring or assessing risk and developing strategies to manage it. An essential component associated with the business of risk management is known as “Risk Transfer”, which transfers the risk or responsibility for certain incidents that may occur to someone else.

When it comes to guestroom hot water, how hot is hot enough? – Vol. 15, No. 4 (July, August)

The late-night call from a client related a horrifying tale. A guest had fallen asleep in the bathtub and suffered second- and third-degree burns over the entire lower half of his body. This gentleman was a paraplegic and literally had no feeling below his waist. The investigation revealed he had consumed several drinks at the hotel bar and had then retired to his room. After entering the tub and opening the water faucets, he fell asleep. The water temperature at the faucet was measured by the engineering department at 140 degrees Fahrenheit. Was this a bizarre, one-of-a kind accident? Perhaps; but a recent survey conducted by PowersTM, a supplier of water tempering technology, revealed some rather shocking information. Of the rooms surveyed, nearly 90% had scalding water at the guestroom taps.

Police searches of guestrooms and the innkeeper’s responsibilities – Vol. 15, No. 3 (May, June)

In the last issue of The Rooms Chronicle there was a discussion of innkeepers’ rights and responsibilities as they relate to entering a guest’s room and potentially violating the guest’s right to privacy. That article focused primarily upon the conditions that must occur before an innkeeper may enter a guest’s room and what can happen with information supporting an illegal activity obtained, once inside that room. This article will examine the innkeeper’s role in cases where illegal activity was discovered and subsequently reported to the police.

Safeguarding guests’ right to privacy poses a dilemma for hoteliers – Vol. 15, No. 2 (March, April)

The nature of hotel guests and the length and purposes of their stays have evolved over the years. Much of this has to do with the nature of our society and the activities in which people become involved, both legal and illegal. Guests are now staying for extended periods and conducting business from their hotel rooms. For years many guests have and continue to engage in illegal and dangerous activities on hotel property.

An innovative method to connect with hotel employees regarding workplace safety – Vol. 15, No. 2 (March, April)

Workplace safety must be a priority for all hotel managers and associates. While the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics reports that nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses occurred at a rate of 4.6 cases per 100 equivalent full-time workers among private industry employers in 2005, the Bureau also reports that the lodging industry posted a far greater nonfatal workplace injuries and illnesses rate of 6.1 cases per 100 equivalent full-time workers for the same time period.

Will you survive an inspection when the OSHA inspector comes knocking? – Vol. 15, No. 1 (January, February)

It is a routine day at your hotel…or so it seems. While you are making your rounds, you pass the kitchen and notice the Executive Chef and several members of his culinary team visiting with an individual who you do not recognize. You call the Chef to the side and he explains that the individual said he was a Safety & Health Compliance Officer with OSHA – the Occupational Safety and Health Administration. The Chef also explains that he and his culinary team have given the Compliance Officer a complete tour of all of the kitchens. Additionally, the Chef explains that this meeting has been going on for over two hours. You ask yourself a perplexing question. How could I as the General Manager not know about something like this occurring in my hotel and why wasn’t I notified immediately? Obviously the story I just related sometimes occurs, but there are ways to prevent this. Additionally, there are several tips on how you can survive the OSHA inspection if your property is faced with a similar situation.

Sales and Marketing

Don’t leave revenue on the table… Internal sales – The art of the conversion – Vol. 15, No. 4 (July, August)

Owners invest a tremendous amount of capital to build hotels. Money is then allocated to ‘marketing’ – brand affiliation, e-commerce tactics, direct sales, advertising, organizational networking (e.g., COC, CVB) and the like – all with the ultimate goal of renting overnight sleeping accommodations. Why then, for the most part, are front desk associates not trained to sell rooms?

Volume 14 – 2006

Ask Gail

Removing hair and dust from walls and chemicals from housekeeper carts – Vol. 14, No. 6 (November, December)

Dear Gail: I know that in a previous Ask Gail column you explained how to remove small hairs from bedding. How can our room attendants remove hair, lint fibers and dust that tend to accumulate on walls? We try and dust vertical surfaces on a regular basis but it seems the more we dust, the faster it accumulates. Also, can you suggest a reasonable alternative for our room attendants to avoid leaving chemicals on their housekeeping carts while they are in the guestroom cleaning with the door closed? A small child at a nearby hotel was poisoned when he started playing with cleaning chemicals that he found on an unattended housekeeping cart in the hallway.

Cooling standards for PTAC units are explained – Vol. 14, No. 4 (July, August)

Dear Gail: In Georgia, the summers are exceptionally warm. Our guestrooms are each equipped with a heating and air-conditioning unit that sits under the window. I often have guests complaining that the air-conditioning unit in their guestroom does not cool satisfactorily. Since I am not sure what appropriate standards are for cooling guestrooms, I need help in order to respond to guest complaints.

Questions about handling Do-Not-Disturb sign situations – Vol. 14, No. 3 (May, June)

Dear Gail: I wanted to ask The Rooms Chronicle and other hoteliers a question about rooms marked “Do Not Disturb.” If such a sign remains on the door all day in the case of a stay, what do you do? Do you respect that and not give any service? Do you save that room to do last assuming that the guests were sleeping late? Or is there other action taken? We have run into a few conflicts over this issue and wonder how most hotels handle this matter.

Determining the cause and source of small hairs on bed linens – Vol. 14, No. 1 (January, February)

Dear Gail: We recently went through an inspection and we had a lot of small hairs found on about ten beds. On each bed it would be 2-3 small, eyelash size hairs, some longer. We use white linens on our beds, including the duvet cover. We have increased our fabric softener and we have dryer tablets installed. I am communicating with my staff not to throw their duvets and pillows on the floor while changing the bed linens. Do you have any suggestions on how to prevent these hairs from reappearing?

Energy

Straight talk about hotel energy myths – Vol. 14, No. 2 (March, April)

Most hotels spend more than fifty percent of their engineering/maintenance department budget on energy expenses. This typically translates into approximately five to seven percent of the gross revenue generated by a lodging property. Therefore, the proper investment of time, research, and expertise early on can pay handsome dividends later in the form of energy savings.

Saving money through water usage adds up quickly for hotels – Vol. 14, No. 1 (January, February)

Water usage can be large or small, and it’s small water usage that saves money. When water usage is large, maintenance and life-cycle costs for building operations are increased. Additionally, utilities and paying for additional municipal water supply and treatment facilities have higher costs. When a hotel’s water usage is reduced through maintenance and conservation measures, thousands of dollars a year can be saved not only in lowered utility bills but also in maintenance and life-cycle costs.

Light up energy savings by following a few simple guidelines – Vol. 14, No. 1 (January, February)

It is time again for The Rooms Chronicle’s annual lighting update. This year’s article will provide hoteliers with a relatively comprehensive guide to take advantage of the most cost effective way to save lighting energy and perhaps improve the quality of the hotel’s perceived product.

Engineering

Recessed emergency lighting gives hoteliers new choices and better protection – Vol. 14, No. 6 (November, December)

Yes, there are federal codes regulating many building systems to ensure that consideration is made for the safety and welfare of the people who use those buildings. Fire marshals, architects and manufacturers watch those regulations closely to ensure that products meet the minimum requirements and installation meets code. But what if your customers started to take notice? What if their decision to book a room was impacted by the safety features that were installed?

Professional engineering department yields energy savings – Vol. 14, No. 6 (November,  December)

Unsurprisingly, hotels that use excessive amounts of energy usually have unorganized engineering departments. The engineering department is one of the most vital departments in the hotel business. A typical chief engineer in a luxury hotel usually manages up to a dozen assistant engineers to provide a comfortable environment for both guests and employees. With today’s improved technology, the chief engineer also works with some of the most sophisticated computerized building automation equipment available. To accomplish these tasks, the entire engineering department should develop a professional way of doing business.

Front Office

Credit card scam confuses hotel guests but lays the blame at front desk – Vol. 14, No. 4 (July, August)

There has been a credit card scam that has been circulating in hotels in recent years, both domestically and abroad, that targets guests in their hotel rooms. In the past year, this scam has become more prevalent as the number of individuals who are traveling has increased greatly since the tragic events of September 11, 2001.

Cashier bank audit basics for front desk managers – Vol. 14, No. 4 (July, August)

Front desk clerks are typically issued a “cash bank” at the start of their shift so that he or she can handle the various front desk transactions that occur during the course of the business day in the hotel. Given that employees are entrusted with large sums of the hotel’s money during their shift, it is not inconceivable that a front desk clerk may choose to play “fast and loose” with the funds from time to time. If cashiers know that their bank is likely to be audited, temptation to “borrow” from their bank will be drastically curtailed. Following is a list of recommended policies and steps for Implementation to help keep your front desk clerks honest and their cashier’s banks intact.

More than ever, front desk responsible for verifying guests’ identity – Vol. 14, No. 1 (January, February)

With the ongoing threat of terrorism and as news circulates throughout the media and within hotel circles about the vicious rape of a hotel housekeeper working an overnight shift at a posh hotel in New York City in early January, now is the time to review hotel policy on ascertaining guest identity during the check-in process.

Guest Services

Common sense for customer service means using your senses – Vol. 14, No. 6 (November, December)

“Common sense ain’t common,” said actor, performer Will Rogers. And many a general manager would attest to that! Sometimes we believe that common sense, or “CS”, sometimes seems to be almost non-existent when it comes to our team members. But what is common sense? Some may describe it as the ability to think or reason soundly or perhaps the ability to judge and distinguish various conditions. There are many definitions, but one rather different interpretation hotel managers might want to consider is that common sense is the ability of the nerves and brain to receive and react to stimuli. In other words, receiving impressions and reacting through one’s senses!

Using guest frequency program rewards to resolve guest complaints – Vol. 14, No. 4 (July, August)

Sometimes referred to as frequent-stay clubs, traveler loyalty programs, or affinity memberships, “frequency programs” for various lodging brands have become a main staple of the marketing arm for large hotel companies. Modeled after airline frequent flyer programs, frequency programs offer many tangible benefits to a brand’s hotel guests. But these same programs also offer an avenue of service recovery for hoteliers faced with disenfranchised guests. The benefits of using your lodging company’s frequency program to solve guest issues that may arise at your hotel are many. Among them are future guest satisfaction and loyalty.

Innovative doorstops make tasks easier for hotel personnel – Vol. 14, No. 1 (January, February)

Perhaps the easiest way for a hotel employee to incur a back-related injury is by bending over at the waist to retrieve an item from the floor instead of bending at the knees and maintaining a straight back. Realizing the need to eliminate this potentially dangerous practice, two entrepreneurs based out of Las Vegas have introduced a unique product known as the Door-ProTM. A revolutionary breakthrough in doorstop technology, the Door-ProTM doorstop was designed by actual bellman in the “Entertainment Resort Capital of the World,” Las Vegas, to make propping guestroom doors open easier and safer by using a brightly colored polymer wedge that is intended to be inserted between the door and door frame.

Four methods to enable the continual delivery of service excellence – Vol. 14, No. 1 (January, February)

Today’s guest is more discerning than he was a few years ago. Hoteliers are somewhat responsible for their guests having become more discriminating by spoiling them with products and services by which hotels of today excel and compete. This article shares four methods that will enable management and staff to review their performance and continue to deliver high levels of service excellence.

HouseKeeping

Unique technology introduced for “sniffing out” hotel bedbug infestations – Vol. 14, No. 6 (November, December)

As many hotels struggle with the ongoing proliferation of bedbugs, a Chicago-based company has developed an innovative and cutting-edge approach to detecting bedbug infestations in hotels, resorts, cruise ships, university dormitories, homeless shelters, nursing homes, hospitals, and even the rental furniture industry. Rather than using traditional visual inspection means, Excelsis Detections utilizes the scent detection capabilities of canines.

Dispensers offer affordable amenity solution while reducing waste – Vol. 14, No. 3 (May, June)

Ten billion. That is the estimated number of shower amenity packaging pieces that are thrown away annually by the world’s hotels. Thanks to efforts by dispenser vendors and participating hotels, however, those mountains of shampoo bottles are getting just a little bit smaller.

What every manager needs to know to alleviate hotel laundry woes – Vol. 14, No. 3 (May, June)

Competitive pressures demand that hotels deliver more to their guests. That’s not always as easy as it sounds. Your property may have used 8-pound towels a number of years ago, but guests now are expecting a thicker 10-pound towel. Perhaps your clientele has already led you to a more luxurious 14-pound bath towel ensemble. In any case, your hotel’s laundry probably wasn’t designed for the extra poundage. The fact is many hotel on-premise laundries really weren’t that well thought out to begin with. The first step to cleaning up with energy savings is to start with a thorough examination of the laundry’s dryers.

Marble floors require a three stage cleaning and maintenance program – Vol. 14, No. 2 (March, April)

Many of the better quality hotels have long chosen marble and limestone to give a special elegance to their hotel and to their rooms. The appeal of natural stone flooring gives an extraordinary feel to a hotel’s common areas and guest suites that only stone can convey. Caring for natural stone can be a challenge. How to properly care for the floor, maintain its shine, and deep clean the stone and the grout joints are just a few of the questions that every housekeeping manager will likely face.

Hookless shower curtains and curved shower rods for guestrooms – Vol. 14, No. 1 (January, February)

One of the most frustrating and potentially dangerous tasks for room attendants involves changing out shower curtains and their liners. Arcs & Angles has introduced a hook-free shower curtain and liner system that room attendants can change out in under a minute. In fact, it only takes about ten seconds to completely hang the Hookless® shower curtain thanks to the exclusive, patented “Flex-on® Rings” which are built into the top of the shower curtain.

Human Resources

Caution! “English-only” in the workplace can be a discriminatory practice – Vol. 14, No. 4 (July, August)

Establishing brand value in the hotel industry is critical. Active management of a hotel’s basic elements, to include its physical attributes and service delivery, has long been the keys to unlocking this success. In theory, therefore, a hotel should be able to manage all aspects of guest interaction, including requiring that employees speak only English in the workplace. Such rules, however, may be in conflict with federal civil rights law and guidelines issued by the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (the “EEOC”).

Hoteliers beware: Is there no such thing as a free lunch? – Vol. 14, No. 2 ( arch, April)

Hoteliers should be on alert: Wal-Mart’s alleged violation of labor and employment laws offers a key lesson for hoteliers. As the employer’s recent state court case illustrates, failing to provide employees with meal breaks required under state law poses significant liability risks. The federal Fair Labor Standards Act (FLSA) does not require hoteliers to provide meal breaks to employees. It does, however, prohibit hoteliers from treating non-exempt employees’ meal breaks as non-working hours unless the employees are entirely relieved of duty for at least thirty minutes.

Behavioral interviewing gets the right people on the housekeeping bus! – Vol. 14, No. 2 (March, April)

In the January/February ‘06 issue of TRC, readers learned about a different technique to interview applicants – behavioral-based interviewing. The principle theory behind behavioral-based interviewing is to structure an interview using open-ended questions to determine an applicant’s ability to perform the essential job functions of a position. It is theorized that an applicant’s past performance with previous employers is the best indicator of his or her future performance for the position for which they are applying. Keep in mind that the managerial function of hiring is about matching the RIGHT employee (not necessarily the best or most qualified employee) with the RIGHT job at the RIGHT time at the RIGHT wage.

Exercise caution when receiving complaints from employees about discrimination – Vol. 14, No. 1 (January, February)

Federal law prohibits discrimination on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, national origin, age, veteran status and disability. These protections are afforded through the Civil Rights Act of 1964, the Age Discrimination in Employment Act of 1967, the Uniformed Services Employment and Reemployment Rights Act of 1994 and the Americans with Disabilities Act of 1990. Hoteliers should also be aware of any state, county or city anti-discrimination laws that could apply to them. Many of these state and local anti-discrimination laws are broader than their federal counterparts. Thus, in addition to the categories discussed above, hoteliers may be prohibited from discriminating against employees on the basis of other protected categories such as sexual orientation or family status. The prevalence and applicability of these more encompassing laws are dictated based on where the hotel or resort is located.

Behavioral-based interviewing helps get the right people on your bus! – Vol. 14, No. 1 (January, February)

There is a more effective technique to interviewing; it is known as behavioral-based interviewing. This concept is based on the theory that one’s past performance is the best indicator for his or her future performance. Humans will typically react to a current situation as they have reacted to that same situation in the past.

People Skills

Demonstrating professionalism in maintenance and engineering – Vol. 14, No. 4 (July, August)

Professionalism in the maintenance area is imperative for the success of the Maintenance department or Engineering division in the hotel. Maintenance and engineering personnel interact with every department and area of the hotel as well as hotel guests. Whether they are providing preventative, scheduled maintenance, troubleshooting malfunctioning equipment, or responding to mechanical emergencies, the staff must always be conscientious of their environment and the people within it.

Managing motivation: When employees don’t want to play – Vol. 14, No. 2 (March, April)

In the old days, if you did a good job…you got to keep it. Sorry. These aren’t the ‘good old days.’ Today, suggesting that good work earns one the right to stay just doesn’t cut it. This is especially true for the better employees who can get both self-satisfaction and the monetary compensation to go along with it someplace else.

Reservations

A quick overview of life on the road: The female business traveler perspective – Vol. 14, No. 6 (November, December)

Female business travelers continue to grow in numbers and now account for over 40% of demand for commercial lodging accommodations. Not surprisingly, however, their lodging preferences differ from those of male business travelers in a number of interesting ways.

Risk Management

Beware of requests for guest information…especially if it is phoned in – Vol. 14, No. 5 (September, October)

Given the value of personal information in today’s society, hoteliers have a responsibility to safeguard guest information and not release it to outside parties (including the police) unless so directed in writing.

An overview of OSHA recordkeeping essentials for hotel managers – Vol. 14, No. 5 (September, October)

This will be the first in a series of upcoming articles on the Occupational Safety & Health Administration – OSHA. Even though an employer’s efforts to guarantee a safe workplace go beyond the requirements of the federal Occupational Safety and Health Act, the Act and its associated safety standards are perhaps the best place to start.

Linen chutes save time and effort but must always be secured – Vol. 14, No. 5 (September, October)

A properly installed and well-maintained linen chute is a wonderful thing. Many steps, including excessive lifting and bending, are saved by dropping linen from the floor above to the discharge area at the end of the linen chute. Some chutes discharge directly into the hotel’s on-premise laundry.

Hiring Smart” means doing critical background checks – Vol. 14, No. 2 (March, April)

Every hotel should have an effective written hiring policy which has been reviewed and approved by the corporate legal department or the company’s attorney. The policy must be followed to prevent problems with inconsistencies when hiring associates and to prevent hiring problem associates. Conducting a complete background investigation of applicants before employment is considered the best assurance against hiring dishonest or violent persons. While it is considered a judicious practice to conduct criminal history background checks on new hires, many companies choose not to do so. This practice is ill-advised. Ultimately, these companies expose themselves to incredible potential liability under the legal theory of “negligent hiring” if the employee subsequently causes harm to guests or other staff members.

Legally speaking, ice and snow poses a dilemma for hotel managers – Vol. 14, No. 1 (January, February)

In many northern climates, the winter months bring an additional maintenance challenge to hotel owners and managers. That challenge is how to deal with the ice and snow that accumulates on one’s premises. Ice and snow on hotel property is not only a customer service issue but it is a legal issue as well.

Volume 13 – 2005

Ask Gail

Vending machine refunds are a cause for concern to FOM – Vol. 13, No. 4 (July, August)

Dear Gail: When guests lose money in one of the vending machines in our hotel, they typically come to the front desk seeking a refund. Lately, it seems that we have been processing quite a few refunds and I am starting to wonder if many of the claims are legitimate. Providing refunds is also starting to put a strain on my front desk’s available cash and coin, especially during weekends when we can’t get to the bank for change. How would you handle this situation?

It is amazing what some guests leave behind when they check out! – Vol. 13, No. 2 (March, April)

Dear Gail: What are the most common items left behind in hotel rooms by guests? I ask this because it seems that our housekeepers continue to find various items of odd and unusual nature.

Housekeeping attendant certification can be used as a motivation tool – Vol. 13, No. 1 (January, February)

Dear Gail: Hello, my name is Diana and I am the Executive Housekeeper at an all-suite property in Kissimmee, Florida. I was hoping maybe you could help me out with an idea that my GM and I thought of. Is there such a program for room attendant certification? We are looking into this for various reasons. I think there are many benefits to having a tiered housekeeping program. Our property’s needs change all the time. We utilize many “special” employees for VIP preparation, new employee training, and self-inspection, just to name a few areas. If there was a program with educational materials and videos to enhance the idea, that would be great. I look forward to hearing from you and hopefully you can help me out with this idea. Thanks and have a great day!

Energy

Kitchen Energy Checklist – Vol. 13, No. 4 (July, August)

 

Bilingual communication issues can result in wasted energy – Vol. 13, No. 4 (July, August)

The hotel industry employs a significant number of Spanish-speaking workers in all of the departments throughout the hotel. This is common in almost all size cities today. spanish-speaking employees pose a unique problem in the hotel business since most of the training manuals, bulletin board material and signage in the hotel is in English. The communication gap can result in situations where a significant amount of energy is wasted due to misun-derstandings, ineffective communications, or even general lack of under-standing.

Hotel energy management information on the Internet – Vol. 13, No. 3 (May, June)

The American Hotel and Lodging Association (AH&LA) has developed a new website called Good Earthkeeping. This is available to both AH&LA members and non-members. The website can be reached at www.ahla.com/goodearthkeeping. Under the tab labeled What Resources are Available? are several items available free to all hoteliers.

Coil cleaning can save up to 20% in heating/cooling energy cost – Vol. 13, No. 2 (March, April)

Regardless of size and type of hotel, almost every lodging property has some type of heating and cooling coil system. Coils are similar to the radiator in your car; they are used in thru-the-wall units and fan coil units to heat or cool a space. A small fan continuously blows air across these coils, which are either hot or cold, depending on the needs of the space. As a result, the air in the guestroom or the public spaces is constantly re-circulated through these coils which can ultimately cause the coils to become extremely dirty and inefficient. The cleanliness of these heating/cooling coils plays a vital role in the quality of the air that the building’s occupants breathe. Keeping these coils clean can reduce heating/cooling costs by up to 20% and improve overall system efficiency.

An example of how an energy audit saves a hotel company big $$$$ – Vol. 13, No. 1 (January, February)

For the past several years, TRC has long been a proponent of energy conservation, urging hotel managers to minimize their energy consumption and energy expense, thus contributing to a healthier bottom line. Probably no single action a hotel manager can take will likely have more long-lasting and potentially cost-minimizing results than having an energy audit conducted. This article will highlight the result of a classic hotel energy audit in action.

Engineering

Backup generators are an indispensable tool for hotels and resorts – Vol. 13, No. 6 (November, December)

For any hotel manager that strives to provide a memorable experience, everything the guest encounters, from the physical evidence (room decor) to the processes (check-in) to the performance of people (a friendly greeting) constitutes the service offered in fulfillment of the promise of a safe, comfortable and enjoyable stay. This experience must not be compromised despite a disruption in power output.

Planning for hotel fire safety is every managers’ job – Vol. 13, No. 3 (May, June)

When making travel plans or checking into a hotel, many travelers are concerned with safety issues. They observe security personnel, look for surveillance cameras, scope out the parking lot for security precautions, and make sure the locks on windows and doors work properly. But how many hotel guests actually check for evidence of fire safety precautions? Chances are, not many do. While the number of hotel fires has declined by approximately two-thirds in the past two decades, there is still plenty for travelers to be worried about. Nevertheless, there are several steps both hotels and guests can take to ensure that all precautions are met.

O•ZoneLite air purification system cleans air by just flipping the light switch – Vol. 13, No. 3 (May, June)

It is very difficult for hoteliers to control what occurs inside a guestroom once it has been rented. As guests bring with them various lifestyles, habits, and customs onto hotel grounds, it is safe to assume that rented hotel rooms will continue to be exposed to a wide range of smells and odors. Everything from pet smells, body odor, cologne and perfume, residual smells from smokers and even the occasional stench of in-room cooking smells tend to find their way into hotel rooms. What if hoteliers could neutralize these undesirable airborne odors by basically doing nothing? Well that is almost the situation that the new product O•ZoneLiteTM presents. O•ZoneLiteTM is marketed as an amazing technological breakthrough that will revolutionize the way building engineers and housekeeping staff seek to preserve the indoor air quality of hotels and resorts.

Front Office

What to do if you receive counterfeit money – Vol. 13, No. 5 (September, October)

From a criminal’s perspective hotels are an ideal venue for passing off counterfeit currency. So the best course of action is education. All cashiers should be trained to recognize the various basic and security detail features of their respective currencies. Since these are many, TRC will present these features in upcoming issues, commencing with our November/December ’05 edition.

The perfect check-in: Using ‘touch points’ and ‘operational excellence’ to deliver a great total customer experience – Vol. 13, No. 4 (July, August)

Within a hotel, providing the ‘perfect’ check-in is an ideal that all hotels strive to achieve. Many hotels, however, believe the essence of a ‘perfect’ check-in falls solely on the interactions that take place at the front desk. Conceiving check-in as an “event” is too limited. Check-in is actually a series of events. The ‘perfect’ check-in is a process that begins when the customer arrives at the hotel and continues until the guest enters the guestroom and is satisfied with the accommodations.

How to handle the ebb and flow of desk clerk finances – Vol. 13, No. 1 (January, February)

One of the primary duties of a general manager is to protect the assets of a lodging facility. This includes conserving energy, saving money on linen purchases, shaving labor expenses when possible, etc. There is no question that shortages/overages need to be corrected immediately. In many cases, they are simply a mathematical error. Everyone makes mistakes. Clerks who are properly trained and have corrective actions taken often succeed without a subsequent error. If inconsistencies occur regularly however, the front office manager or supervisor needs to take corrective action immediately.

Guest Services

Why employee nametags are so important – Vol. 13, No. 4 (July, August)

As the old question goes … What’s in a name? For hotels and their employees … everything. Nametags are the one common element that unites all of a property’s employees. Nametags convey a sense of hospitality to those who wear them and to those who see them. It is standard practice in most lodging properties that ALL EMPLOYEES, from room attendant to the general manager, wear their issued nametag. No staff member is exempt from this responsibility … or the privilege to serve others.

HouseKeeping

The sweet smell of success: Sachets for hotel guestrooms – Vol. 13, No. 6 (November, December)

Hotel managers know quite well that their guests expect a warm, pleasant, and relaxing atmosphere. Of course, such things as a beautiful environment, personalized service, and spacious rooms offer an enclave of comfort to guests. In fact, such amenities are known as the trademarks of fine hotels. However, it is important not to overlook the power of scent and how it can invoke positive feelings about a hotel. One of the best ways to introduce a scent to an environment is through the use of sachets. Scented sachets can hang from closet rods or hangers. They can also serve as a decorative element to curtain rods.

Laundry Energy Checklist – Vol. 13, No. 4 (July, August)

Housekeeping Energy Checklist – Vol. 13, No. 4 (July, August)

 

Remembering to clean those often-missed spots in guestrooms – Vol. 13, No. 4 (July, August)

There is no doubt that guests insist upon clean guestrooms during their hotel stay. And it is no surprise that the most common places guests initially check for cleanliness are the bathtub, toilet and sink, the bed linens, and the mirror and counter surfaces. With this being common knowledge in the hotel housekeeping profession, why is it that so many housekeeping managers fail to maintain cleanliness standards in various trouble spots of the guestroom? This article serves as a reminder about the need to attend to those areas that room attendants frequently miss when servicing a guestroom.

New product for tubs and showers makes cleaning easier and safer – Vol. 13, No. 3 (May, June)

Showers and tubs have frequently been the bane of hoteliers, not just for the risk they pose for slip and fall accidents by both guests and the room attendants who must clean them, but for the inordinate time that is required to maintain them. Some hotel managers have embraced a new product developed by Ballance Industries to make tub and shower cleaning easier for their housekeeping employees.

Keeping guestrooms smelling fresh and odor-free the natural way – Vol. 13, No. 3 (May, June)

For years, one of the top three complaints from guests is a smelly guestroom. Housekeepers do their best to clean the rooms and kill any existing odors with chemical sprays or ionizers. Front desk clerks do the best they can with available inventory to keep smokers and non-smokers in their requested room types. However, inconsistencies still exist. One can never make their hotel have more smoking or non-smoking rooms, control the personal hygiene of guests, or control the foods that guests eat in their rooms.

Triple-sheeting and the comfort revolution: Companies make sweeping changes – Vol. 13, No. 2 (March, April)

During the past few months the hospitality industry has seen quite a few articles come its way regarding the revitalization of hotel rooms across the industry. Marriott has announced their plan to change 628,000 beds worldwide this year, costing nearly $190 million between its own hotels and franchisees. Doubletree has made a $300 million commitment to “product en-hancement,” which a good part of the money is focused on the “sleep experience.” Among other changes for its other brands, the  Intercontinental Hotel Group has instituted the “Innviting Ready Room” for its Holiday Inn® hotels and Holiday Inn Sunspree® resorts. Why the sudden splurge on guestroom amenities and linens? All the programs have one thing in common: guest comfort. It is an arms race among the hotels to upgrade and improve their guestrooms to get back to the basics and give people more of what they really want: a home away from home. Comfort is the best place to start.

Preventing mold and mildew growth presents unique challenges – Vol. 13, No. 2 (March, April)

Aside from unattractive stains, foul odors, and expensive repairs, mold and mildew growth presents the possibility of serious health problems. Housekeepers, maintenance engineers and general managers all need to be aware of the signs associated with mold and mildew growth in order to ensure a completely comfortable stay for all guests.

Bed bugs: Bad dreams, bad publicity, and bad for business – Vol. 13, No. 2 (March, April)

Thought to be mostly eradicated in the United States after World War II, bed bugs are back; and they conjure bad dreams for both travelers and hoteliers. These bugs can and have killed hotels’ reputations, as well as their economic stability. On an almost biannual basis it seems that first-hand accounts of bed bug horrors are relived and retold by afflicted hotel guests on television news shows such as 20/20, Primetime, and Dateline. In the last three years alone, there has been a 500% percent increase in bed bugs in America. So, the simple maxim is, “Don’t let the bed bugs bite your guests.”

Back injuries remain the nation’s number one workplace safety problem – Vol. 13, No. 1 (January, February)

Preventing back injuries is a major workplace safety challenge in any industry. The lodging industry is no exception, especially in housekeeping departments. On-premise laundry workers who load and unload heavy loads of linens, housemen who transport soiled and freshly laundered linens or trash, and room attendants who flip mattresses on a regular basis are all prime candidates for a lower back injury. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics (BLS), more than one million workers in the United States suffer back injuries each year, with back injuries accounting for one of every five workplace injuries or illnesses.ately.

Human Resources

Employee references: The danger in providing inaccurate information – Vol. 13, No. 6 (November, December)

In today’s labor market, employees change jobs more frequently than in prior decades. This rise in employee mobility has increased opportunities for employers to provide references for former employees. As a recent legal case demonstrates, employers may confront not only claims of tortious interference and defamation for providing negative or false references to a prospective employer, but also potential negligent misrepresentation claims.

Personnel records: What you need to know to avoid possible liability – Vol. 13, No. 4 (July, August)

In this day and age, hoteliers and other employers are obligated to comply with a number of rules concerning personnel records and other employment-related documents. This article provides an overview of the “who, what, when and where” of employment recordkeeping that a hotel manager must know to help shield himself from possible liability.

Reservations

Online reviews: What every hotelier should know – Vol. 13, No. 5 (September, October)

The Internet has become the most powerful tool available to consumers to access information on any topic. The travel industry has blossomed online and has experienced unheralded growth for all segments of the hospitality industry. Hotels are now able to market themselves to consumers worldwide that they previously had no access to. However, what potential guests preview on a computer screen and what they experience firsthand upon arrival may drastically differ from property to property.

Risk Management

Public area amenities add additional responsibility for hoteliers – Vol. 13, No. 5 (September, October)

In an effort to keep up with the competition, to update their appearance and offerings or to comply with statutory mandates, many hotels are adding amenities to public areas of their property. These amenities add beauty and convenience to the property and make it more appealing to guests and other customers. Items such as elevators, automatic doors, light fixtures, ceiling fans, mirrors, furniture and television sets are features that most guests anticipate finding in a modern hotel today.

When it comes to liability, it’s not who you know — it’s whether you know – Vol. 13, No. 4 (July, August)

Hotel owners and managers may be liable to their guests for injuries caused by the condition of their property. This is true even if the hotel has no actual notice of the defective condition that caused the injury. In such cases a guest who files a lawsuit may prevail against the hotel if he can show that the hotel had “constructive notice” of the condition causing the injury.

Duty of care in the innkeeper-guest relationship – Vol. 13, No. 3 (May, June)

In previous issues of The Rooms Chronicle, the concept of an innkeeper’s duty to various persons on hotel property or resort grounds has been addressed. That duty has varied depending upon the contractual classification of each person. Those individuals to whom the innkeeper owes the highest duty are guests. The legal status of a guest is often referred to as an “invitee” (often called a business invitee) and the outcome of legal issues involving bodily injury, loss of property or defamation often depends upon that status. It is critical, therefore, that hoteliers know exactly who their guests are.

Dealing with the dreaded trespasser – Vol. 13, No. 2 (March, April)

The term trespasser conjures up all kinds of images of a clandestine interloper sneaking around in dark corners. In reality, the term is merely a legal designation for the status one possesses in relation to another’s property. When that property is a hotel or restaurant, one can become a trespasser in a variety of ways. Once that person achieves status as a trespasser, management may begin the process of removing the trespasser from their premises with limited legal exposure. This article examines the ways trespassers are established and the methods with which they should be dealt with.

Don’t be afraid to help guests in danger – Vol. 13, No. 1 (January, February)

Thousands of people pass through a typical lodging property during the course of a year. These patrons range in age and health. They are on site for a variety of activities including conference meetings, social functions, recreation, dining or visiting the bar, or as overnight guests. With such a variety of guests involved in a wide range of activities, it stands to reason that over time some of these guests may have an accident or take ill while on property. These situations may require the immediate intervention of a staff member of the property in order to prevent further injury or to possibly save a life. Often, hotel and restaurant employees are reluctant to offer assistance fearing that it may expose them to liability for further injury. Employees should not be afraid to help, to the extent that they have the ability and are trained to do so. Owners and managers, who accept money in return for hospitality services, must foresee that at some time, a guest will need immediate medical attention. In the case of choking or the onset of a heart attack, some guests may not be able to wait more than a few moments for paramedics to arrive. Hence, hospitality professionals have a moral and ethical duty to prepare themselves to aid guests in danger, when warranted.

Volume 12 – 2004

Cover Story

Three reasons why service stinks! – Vol. 12, No. 2 (March, April)

Service stinks. Three reasons: miscast employees, uncertain management and antagonistic systems have come together in a perfect storm of incompetence that has left consumers thinking three thoughts of their own – price, price, and price. Our research says that customers will pay more (not a lot), drive further (a lot further), and wait longer if they think that there is an outside chance they will be waited on by a friendly, knowledgeable service person. They’re even willing to take some of the blame for poor service. Our survey of ten thousand consumers cited rude customers as the fourth leading cause of stinky service! Let’s take a closer look at the big, bad three causes of stinky service.

Managers share ideas to increase profits – Vol. 12, No. 2 (March, April)

While Ernst & Young report, “The worst of the recent lodging down cycle is likely behind us,” hotel managers across the world are still grappling with shortfalls of profit. Now, perhaps more than any other period in modern times, managers are reaching out to find new sources of top line revenue and innovative ideas for decreasing expenses. In January, members of the Minnesota Association of Innkeepers met in Minneapolis to share their best ideas for operating profitably.

Is your hotel “heart safe”? – Vol. 12, No. 1 (January, February)

Automated external defibrillators, or AEDs, hit the news again recently with the Carlson Hotel chain’s announcement in September that it plans to install AEDs at all of its U.S. owned and managed hotels. Though AEDs are proven lifesaving devices and their use has been shown to be highly effective in a variety of settings, they are less prevalent in the hospitality industry than would be expected.

Ask Gail

Keeping mops and brooms organized on housekeeping carts – Vol. 12, No. 6 (November, December)

Dear Gail: What should our housekeepers do with their brooms, mops and dust mops while cleaning guestrooms? There is not a convenient place for them to be stored on their housekeeping carts.

Questions about handling housekeeper tips – Vol. 12, No. 4 (July, August)

Dear Gail: Can you offer any advice about how to handle gratuities with housekeeping personnel? Is a tip envelope a good idea? How do you split up tips for a room that was serviced by several different housekeepers? Tips are often a hot topic at our property.

Laptop thefts from guestrooms – Vol. 12, No. 3 (May, JuNE)

Dear Gail: Our hotel has had a recent rash of laptop thefts from guestrooms in the past few months. The hotel is located near an international airport and several office parks, so the majority of our guests are business travelers. Some guests stay for only a night or two while others stay for up to a month. After interrogating the electronic locks of those guestrooms affected, we and the local police have not been able to determine who is taking the computers or how they are doing it. All the thefts occurred during the dinner hour. There is no damage to the guestroom doors or locks and all the windows do not open. These events are starting to generate bad publicity for our property, not to mention that many guests are outright worried. Help!

Energy

Housekeeping and engineering work together to save energy – Vol. 12, No. 6 (November, December)

The latest trend among both large and small hotels is to have one manager in charge of both engineering and housekeeping. Sometimes this manager’s title is Director of Property Operations or Director of Services. It is no secret in the lodging industry that housekeeping and engineering sometimes have different opinions on how to save energy and implement a good preventive maintenance program. A good synergy between these departments can significantly improve efficiency of employees and the quality of the product by implementing guestroom repairs in a speedy manner.

Ozone laundry systems save water, energy and chemicals – Vol. 12, No. 5 (September, October)

There is a new energy efficient alternative to conventional laundry systems; it is referred to as the Ozone Laundry System. This is a new technology of creating ozone with high technology equipment and injecting the ozone gas directly into the laundry wash cycle. Ozone is a compound in which three atoms of oxygen are combined to form the molecule O3, which is a strong, naturally occurring oxidizing and disinfecting agent.

It’s time to reexamine energy saving capital projects – Vol. 12, No. 4 (July, August)

At the time this article was written the cost of a barrel of oil had risen to an all-time high of $42. In conjunction with this, the cost of automobile gasoline has risen to an average of $2.25 per gallon in the United States and around $5.50 per gallon in the United Kingdom. Current predictions are that the prices will continue to rise. As one might expect, the cost of crude oil has a direct effect on the cost of all other forms of energy, such as electricity, natural gas, propane and fuel oil. Cost increases are typically proportionate to the increased cost of crude oil. All of this information indicates that hotel managers can possibly expect up to a 25% cost increase in most of the energy they use to run their hotel by the end of the year. The increased cost of energy, therefore, changes the economics of investing capital in energy saving projects. Projects that had a two to four-year return on investment would likely be reduced to a one to three-year return on investment. A two-year simple payback is the same as a 50% ROI, which by all standards is considered an extremely attractive investment. Under these circumstances, capital projects can be financed and pay for their cost out of the savings, while still providing cash flow to the owner/operator of the hotel. The following information will provide suggestions and ideas on how to take advantage of the high cost of energy problem.

Time-of-day rates, peak controls save $$$ – Vol. 12, No. 1 (January, February)

Almost every utility company in the United States has a serious problem: generating enough electricity for peak use periods. To resolve this situation they must either construct new generating facilities or encourage customers to use less energy during these peak periods. Although these peak periods may only occur 10 or 20 times per year (usually hot summer afternoons), most utility companies are implementing rates and incentive programs to reward businesses who restrict their peak usage.

Engineering

Now is the time to examine your fire extinguishers for reliability – Vol. 12, No. 6 (November, December)

As high occupancy periods in many hotels and resorts start to wind down and the Christmas season approaches, now is the time to think about inspecting life-safety equipment throughout the property. At the forefront of this process should be fire extinguisher inspections. Portable fire extinguishers are the first line of defense against small fires.

Engineering training and resource manuals are an essential tool – Vol. 12, No. 5 (September, October)

The engineering department training and resource manual is an essential tool to aid employees in maintaining department standards and to ensure timely and consistent responsiveness to engineering-related guest concerns. In short, the training and resource manual is the engineering department’s “black book” that is furnished to each engineering staff member. It provides key information, resources, and standardized procedures pertaining to the everyday operation and maintenance of the hotel’s physical facility.

Lockout/Tagout training critical for engineering personnel – Vol. 12, No. 4 (July, August)

Because of the prevalent heat and associated humidity, during the Summer season most hotels draw more electrical energy to power air conditioning, refrigeration, and large mechanical units. Such greater use may necessitate more frequent inspections, maintenance and repairs by engineering personnel to keep this equipment operating at peak efficiency. Therefore, now is the time to remind engineering staff members about the importance of adhering to Lockout/Tagout procedures before commencing service on electrical-based mechanical equipment.

Front Office

Walking a guest is never easy, so prepare early – Vol. 12, No. 5 (September, October)

Capacity management is a widely used revenue management tactic, especially in the lodging industry. Its objective is to sell the most possible guestrooms on any given night. There are times when management’s well-intended efforts result in overbooking the hotel and that may force the front desk to turn away guests who arrive with a guaranteed and confirmed reservation. This article discusses the nuts and bolts of successfully preparing to weather the impending storm known as “walking a guest.”

Kiosk check-in/check-out technology finally hits home for hotel guests – Vol. 12, No. 4 (July, August)

There is a new trend emerging in the hotel industry. Although not predominant yet, ATM style check-in/check-out kiosks are finding their way into hotel lobbies. Most major hotel chains have test sites in one or two of their hotels or are planning to test them in the near future. These self-service systems can manage basic tasks such as handle check-ins and check-outs, assign rooms to guests, encode keycards, check for messages and guest mail, and print registration cards and guest folio statements. More sophisticated systems update guest folios, let guests book airline flights, and much more. However, front desk managers have many questions that must be addressed: Are ATM style kiosks affordable? How are they maintained? And most importantly − will guests welcome them?

No-show charges – Yet another conundrum for the general manager – Vol. 12, No. 3 (May, June)

Our services in the hotel business are perishable as we cannot “store them on a shelf” or “package them for a later time.” A 200-room hotel which only sells 100 rooms on a Monday night cannot inventory the 100 unsold rooms and then sell 300 rooms the next night. Kotler, Bowen, and Makens define this phenomenon as “service perishability.” To the hotel general manager, this means charging guests for guaranteed reservations even when they don’t show up.

AAA inspections for hotels – Vol. 12, No. 1 (January, February)

As noted in the last issue of TRC in the article “Stressed out about hotel inspections,” there are two different types of hotel inspections, internal and external. An internal inspection is the kind that a franchisor performs for its franchisee. An external inspection is when a representative from an outside interest, such as the American Automobile Association/Canadian Automobile Association, enters a hotel in order to rate the property and the services it has to offer. The role of AAA It is the external inspection that is the primary focus of this article, namely, the process involved for an inspection from the American Automobile Association/Canadian Automobile Association.

Guest Services

No more rooms, but lots of guests: It is time to walk … here’s how – Vol. 12, No. 6 (November, December)

It is every front office manager’s nightmare. The last guestroom has just been assigned to a check-in and there are still many more guests due to arrive. Learning that your nearby competitors are also full would only make matters worse. If there is a big convention, sporting event, or academic graduation in town, chances are that this is the situation that many night managers may find themselves facing in the late evening. Unfortunately, unlike the airline business, not all hotel guests arrive or depart at the same hour. With guests arriving from various out of town locations at all different hours, those who are most afflicted by a full hotel tend to be those reservation holders that arrive last … and the hotel employee(s) who must deal with the anger and disappointment that the late arrivals will exhibit.

Positive telephone skills show guests you care – Vol. 12, No. 2 (March, April)

As payroll budgets shrink, and hotels ask their employees to do more work to compensate for fewer employees, it is time to revisit twenty principles that comprise positive and courteous phone skills. The first five are presented here with the remainder to follow in subsequent issues.

Creating a personalized atmosphere to welcome returning guests – Vol. 12, No. 1 (January, February)

As a follow-up to the article “Personal touches can brighten a guest stay” which appeared in our September/October ’03 issue, TRC invited Jack Bosley to share some of his thoughts about his hotel’s personalized “Mackinac” attention philosophy.

HouseKeeping

Dealing with urine stains and their odor in bathroom floors – Vol. 12, No. 6 (November, December)

It’s a dirty story but someone has to tell it. Urine stains in bathrooms are a sore point for many housekeepers. Not only are the stains unpleasant sights and breeding grounds for unsanitary conditions, but the odors associated with them can be downright objectionable. This article will discuss what causes these stains to be a proverbial thorn in housekeepers’ sides and how to remedy the undesirable effects of urine on bathroom floors.

Do not overlook the need to properly maintain anti-slip floors – Vol. 12, No. 5 (September, October)

There is more than beauty at stake in maintaining the flooring of a hotel. While cleanliness and visual appeal are certainly critical attributes of a well managed lodging property, equally or even more important is the safety of guests and employees.

Communication between F&B and housekeeping departments critical to avoid costly mistakes – Vol. 12, No. 4 (July, August)

Ineffective communication between a hotel’s food & beverage and housekeeping departments can have detrimental consequences. Such miscommunication often results in excessive overtime for employees, increased replacement costs for table linens, broken or damaged laundry equipment, cross-contamination of laundered linens, delayed service to guests, and flared tempers for all involved. While F&B is a front of the house, revenue-generating center, it relies extensively on the actions and abilities of back of the house support centers such as the housekeeping department to enable it to meet its goals of providing memorable F&B service experiences to the hotel’s guests. Indeed, without clean table linens, how could most full-service F&B outlets survive? Hence, accurate, effective, and timely communication between the departments is vital for the smooth operation of both. Presented below are various means by which an F&B department’s failure to communicate effectively or follow standard linen procedures can result in detrimental consequences.

Choosing the right vacuum cleaner for different hotel needs – Vol. 12, No. 3 (May, June)

The prudent housekeeping or engineering manager should perform an internal needs assessment survey to decide on the best vacuum cleaner for the hotel. The following issues should be addressed before purchasing a vacuum cleaning system for the property.

Room maintenance is not a housekeeping responsibility … or is it? – Vol. 12, No. 2 (March, April)

A good housekeeping manager is just as responsible for the hotel’s maintenance as an engineering manager. In an ideal environment the housekeeping staff and managers should act as the eyes and ears of the engineering department. If damaged or broken items are not reported, they can’t be fixed. Proper maintenance will make the perception of cleanliness easier to maintain and reduce guest complaints. Here are some key tactics to enable housekeepers to help its hotel’s maintenance or engineering department.

Cleaning bathroom floors in guestrooms … are microfiber mops the answer? – Vol. 12, No. 1 (January, February)

In last issue’s How Do You Do It? column, readers were asked the various means by which their room attendants cleaned guest bathrooms. Not surprisingly, the vast majority of the respondents indicated that it was standard practice for their housekeepers to get on their hands and knees and use a clean rag with disinfectant to wipe down the flooring surface. Microfiber mops are lightweight, easy to use, and can reduce the time and energy spent maintaining all types of flooring surfaces. Both wet and dry microfiber cloths for mop heads start at about $6 apiece. However, characteristically these commercial-grade cloths may be washed and reused hundreds of times, making the long-term costs savings realizable.

People Skills

Motivating customer service employees is an investment requiring commitment – Vol. 12, No. 6 (November, December)

This is the third in a series of four articles on the successful management of the customer service function. Managing the Customer Service Challenge involves a four-step process; it includes the management tasks of hiring, training, motivating, and rewarding guest service employees. In the July/August issue of The Rooms Chronicle, the author introduced principles guiding the hiring process. The September/October edition of TRC presented an article discussing training. This issue’s article will discuss step three – motivating.

Developing and conducting training programs for customer service employees – Vol. 12, No. 5 (September, October)

This is the second in a series of four articles on the successful management of the customer service function. Managing the customer service challenge involves a four-step process; it includes the management tasks of hiring, training, motivating and rewarding guest service employees. In the July/August issue of The Rooms Chronicle, the author introduced principles guiding the hiring process. This issue’s article will discuss step two-training.

Structured hospitality internships – Vol. 12, No. 2 (March, April)

While a college degree, good interview, solid résumé, and persistent effort are still necessary for most successful applicants for hotel management positions, having an internship and real world experience are more important than ever for both the student and hospitality property. The recession and slow economic recovery of the past few years have had an imminent impact on the openings for recent college graduates hoping to start a promising career in the hospitality industry. Many industry representatives believe that applicants who have completed an internship are more attractive as prospective employees and competitive in the job market.

Purchasing

Making heads or tails out of the supplier selection process – Vol. 12, No. 4 (July, August)

In the last issue, the purchasing column described how hotel managers can professionally create a bid package to initiate the purchase function for hotel supplies. Once those bid packages have been created and sent out to suppliers for review and quotation, there are a few more steps necessary to complete the process of selecting the supplier that best meets a hotel’s needs. These steps include receiving the bids, comparing prices and services, meeting with vendors, and selecting which supplier with whom to do business.

Tips to remember and mistakes to avoid when purchasing – Vol. 12, No. 2 (March, April)

Whether it is for a 60-room limited-service property or a 1,500-room, full-service resort, all managers will inevitably face the challenge of procuring goods. As an agent dedicated to protecting the financial interests of the owner or operator, it is essential to produce the greatest output or service and to reduce costs to achieve a healthy bottom line. A strong purchasing program can effectively save money for the hotel and accomplish this goal. This article outlines many mistakes to avoid and tips to remember when purchasing goods for a lodging property.

Reservations

Matching pet owners with receptive hotels – Vol. 12, No. 1 (January, February)

Pets have been at the forefront of the lodging industry recently. But just how do pet owners find lodging accommodations that will be receptive to them and their furry traveling companions? In the past two years there has been a proliferation of pet-friendly intermediaries that seek to match up travelers with pets and those hotels and inns who will welcome them with their animal in tow.

Risk Management

Limiting liability statutes for guests’ property offer protections for hotels – Vol. 12, No. 6 (November, December)

In the September/October issue of TRC the various theories of liability of hotelkeepers for lost or stolen property of guests was discussed. In that article, reference was made to various limiting liability statutes in every state that limit the monetary liability of the hotel for property losses of their guests. As is the case in many legal issues, the extent of the statute and the requirements on the hotelkeeper vary from state to state. The most notable deviation is in the monetary limit, from $0 to $5,000 depending upon the jurisdiction. However, there are other differences about which property managers need to be aware to assure themselves the protection of these statutes. While the major statutory differences will be addressed in this article, hotelkeepers are reminded that they should consult with a qualified attorney in their area for the specific requirements that pertain to their jurisdiction.

Hotel liability for guests’ personal property can be enormous – Vol. 12, No. 5 (September, October)

An age-old problem for the hospitality industry is the protection of personal property of hotel guests. Traditionally, guest property consisted of clothing, luggage, money, jewelry and vacation items. Today, hotel guests are likely to have with them items such as laptop computers, cell phones, various electronic devices and perhaps inventory for the traveling salesperson. These items can be worth thousands of dollars, possibly exposing the hotel to extensive liability for their loss. It becomes incumbent upon property managers to be aware of their responsibilities when it comes to the preservation of personal property for their guests. Like most legal issues, the specific requirements vary from state to state and should be reviewed with a local attorney. The following information should serve as an overview of an individual hotel’s liability regarding guest property.

Implementing an AED program in your hotel – Vol. 12, No. 2 (March, April)

It’s a proven fact, automated external defibrillators save lives. As explained in the January/February 2004 issue of The Rooms Chronicle, about 250,000 Americans die each year from sudden cardiac arrest. That’s 600 people a day or an average of 25 people each hour. When an individual experiences ventricular fibrillation, the cause of most instances of SCA, the only effective treatment is defibrillation. Defibrillation shocks the heart and allows restoration of the heart’s normal rhythm. AEDs in hotels can and do save lives. Yet, most properties have been reticent to acquire and install them. And this makes little sense.

Skill Improvement

Shift changes provide unique opportunities for improved service – Vol. 12, No. 1 (January, February)

Daily line-ups or effective, efficient shift changes are essential in providing a high level of service to hotel guests. Sue Stephenson, senior vice president of human resources for The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, explains, “The daily line-up is an invaluable process that enables us to refocus our employees on our vision and gold standards. These are the credo, the employee promise and our motto — ‘We are ladies and gentlemen serving ladies and gentlemen.’ The motivational process enables our employees to keep up-to-date and involved with the success of their operation.”

Volume 11 – 2003

Ask Gail

Amenity shrinkage from housekeepers’ carts – Vol. 11, No. 4 (September, October)

Dear Gail: It seems that some guests choose to help themselves to items on top of our housekeeping carts. How can we minimize the “shrinkage” of soaps, shampoos, pens, and other amenity items from the housekeeper’s carts while the room attendant is busy servicing each guestroom with the door closed?

Choosing mattresses and box springs – Vol. 11, No. 2 (May, June)

Dear Gail: We are looking at replacing our beds and quite frankly I don’t know what questions to ask. Nor do i know how to interpret the answers. For example I know that more coils is good but why is more good and what do I need to know about coils? Any help you can provide is appreciated.

Best way to clean mildew from marble steps – Vol. 11, No. 2 (May, June)

Dear Gail: I want to know the best way to clean mildew from marble steps that no longer even look like marble–they have mildewed so badly over decades that they almost appear to be poured concrete.

Guest resistance in providing a driver’s license at check-in – Vol. 11, No. 2 (May, June)

Dear Gail: We have increased guest resistance in providing a driver’s license at check-in. Some guests have told sales persons that it is not legal to copy and keep a driver’s license on hotel’s file. We have had a policy to ask for and copy the number, state, and expiration date of the guest’s license for over 10 years. After September 11, 2001, the resistance to give such information has escalated. What is the hotel’s legal stand on this issue?

Writing effective memos – Vol. 11, No. 1 (January, February, March, April)

Dear Gail: Our every day work is communicating with people. I wonder if you are able to advise me of any book aid for writing every day messages (Welcome, have a nice stay, have a nice trip, happy birthday, happy anniversary, happy honeymoon, etc.) to our guests? Thank you for your wonderful ezine and your valuable time. I hope to see you in Samos one of these days.

Rub rails in hallways – Vol. 11, No. 1 (January, February, March, April)

Dear Gail: We are discussing the installation of rub rails in our hallways. So far we are considering oak or other hardwood rails but cannot agree on the finish. Can you advise whether painted or stain and varnish is most durable and easiest to maintain? Hopefully this topic has been discussed in a TRC article.

Linen inventory process – Vol. 11, No. 1 (January, February, March,  April)

Dear Gail: We are struggling to start an efficient and accurate linen inventory process. Can you briefly outline a recommended process?

Signage for guestroom doors – Vol. 11, No. 1 (January, February, March, April)

Dear Gail: I have a question that I hope you can answer. We are redoing the signage on the back of the guestroom doors. What exactly do I need to have on the sign?

Energy

The top 10 energy-saving projects for a hotel – Vol. 11, No. 5 (November, December)

There are literally thousands of ways to reduce energy use and save money in hotels. The primary difference is that some of them are more cost effective than others. As a general rule, hotel owners and operators can obtain 80 percent of their potential savings at 20 percent of the cost while obtaining a return on their investment in well under two years, in most cases, by following this list of 10 prioritized projects.

Water conservation can be invisible to the guest – Vol. 11, No. 4 (September, October)

Experts around the world are constantly warning that water shortages are inevitable and in the near future. Yet, throughout society individuals and businesses alike continue to waste water at an incredible rate. The aquifers in our country continue to drop, and they can never be replenished. Water conservation can and must be implemented immediately for everyone’s sake and the benefit of future generations. This article will discuss some extremely practical and easily implemented ways to conserve water throughout the hotel industry.

Unusual and inexpensive ways to save energy – Vol. 11, No. 3 (July, August)

Over the years, facility hotel and building managers have introduced many different and unusual methods for saving energy. Some were extremely expensive, while others were more or less just common sense. Some ideas that have been suggested in the marketplace could literally be characterized as outright fraud, where salespeople espouse that their magic black box will bring building in harmony with nature, while saving energy. One of these products our readers should be aware of, that has recently appeared again, is the use of magnets to provide water treatment in swimming pools and air conditioning systems and other ridiculous applications. This product and concept has been around since the early seventies when the energy crisis first began. This is not to say that some day the use of magnets won’t have a useful purpose; however, it is currently noted there is absolutely no scientific basis for this product application with swimming pools and HVAC systems.

A six step method to a successful energy management program – Vol. 11, No. 2 (May, June)

After performing full service energy audits in all types of hotels, from limited-service to full-service convention style properties, PSA Consultants has developed a solid strategy for implementing a cost effective energy management program in individual hotels and for hotel corporations. The following information will chronicle each individual step, the purpose for it and what a hotel manager or chief engineer can expect to gain from implementing it.

Space comfort versus energy conservation – Vol. 11, No. 1 (January, February, March, April)

Most reputable hotels are constantly trying to improve the guest experience in a variety of ways: facility renovations, guest service programs, free giveaways and bonus options. Some hotel chains are even incorporating guarantees of 100 percent guest satisfaction including money refunds. Yet there is one area of the guest’s experience that is too often overlooked when managers are investing in improvements — the control of space temperature in the guestroom. This important guest comfort issue has become an essential element of creating satisfied customers.

Engineering

Preventative maintenance for profitability – Vol. 11, No. 4 (September, October)

The term preventative maintenance (PM) may be explained as essentially performing work to avoid a negative future consequence. It is generally accepted that taking proactive care of equipment will ensure, if not extend, the equipment’s useful life while avoiding excess costs due to downtime, labor, parts, and energy usage. It is therefore important for a hotel or resort, with assets that can be worth millions, to spend an appropriate amount of resources on the care and maintenance of those assets. Yet, the difficulty for lodging managers lies with identifying and presenting the cost/benefit relationship to property owners or senior management in a way that will justify expenditures on something that might happen soon or even several years down the road. This article will briefly highlight the main cost factors of PM and PM’s importance in guest satisfaction, and illustrate that a piece of equipment’s useful life may be enough to justify implementing a PM program for an asset type.

The ins and outs of grab bars – Vol. 11, No. 3 (July, August)

Horizontal. Vertical. Slanted. Doubled. L-shaped. U-shaped. Stainless steel. Chrome-plated. Nylon. Bending stress. Shear stress. Shear force. Tensile force. Welcome to the world of grab bars in hotel bathrooms. While some managers may remember a simpler day when a wall-mounted ceramic soap dish had a little handhold, those days are over. Today the rules of accessibility govern the why and how and where of handholds — grab bars — and there is not one hotel manager in America who can be exempted from knowing these rules.

Oil vs. Latex Paint, What’s the Difference? – Vol. 11, No. 2 (May, June)

Nearly all paints fall into one of two categories, either oil based paints or latex paints. Choosing the right type of paint for the job at hand is the first step to ensuring an attractive and durable finish and minimizing rework and repeated maintenance.

Indoor air quality improved by new products – Vol. 11, No. 1 (January, February, March, April)

Indoor Air Quality (IAQ) is an issue for the traveling public and the hospitality industry. As recently as 10 years ago, most hotels offered fewer nonsmoking guestrooms than smoking rooms. Now, however, in most hotels, guestrooms available for smoking guests have decreased as a percent of inventory over the past decade. This industry trend of fewer smoking rooms is related to the hotel industry reaction to social trends and the increasing public awareness of the health hazards of smoking.

From the Editor

Brand new publisher for TRC, same great content ahead! – Vol. 11, No. 1 (January, February, March, April)

On January 1, the College of Hospitality and Tourism Management at Niagara University assumed responsibility for publishing and producing The Rooms Chronicle. In the 10 years since TRC’s inception, NMRG Publishing and Aleta Nitschke have delivered to thousands of readers, every other month, 16 pages of nuts and bolts information pertaining to the complex world of hotel management and rooms division operations. It is with great pleasure, a feeling of excitement, and even a profound sense of duty as an educational institution that we accept the reins of TRC, and more importantly, commit ourselves to exceed the expectations of each and every reader of The Rooms Chronicle.

Front Office

Stressed out about hotel inspections? – Vol. 11, No. 5 (November, December)

Hotel inspections are a regular and much anticipated occurrence for both chain hotels and franchised properties. They are performed for a variety of reasons, and can be a harrowing experience for all involved if they are not approached in the proper fashion. There are several types of inspections that a hotel manager can expect to encounter. For the purposes here, there will be two general types discussed — internal and external. Inspections may be announced and scheduled in advance or unannounced and conducted under a cover of anonymity. However, the hotel manager who is confident that he has a well-maintained property and a well-trained and dedicated staff will be able to successfully complete both kinds.

Effects of overbooking can be costly – Vol. 11, No. 1 (January, February, March, April)

All too often, hotel managers find themselves in a quandary as they are “setting up the house” for the coming evening because there are more scheduled arrivals than there are available guestrooms. In other words, the hotel is overbooked. This scenario is not uncommon in hotels today. The hotel manager who is faced with an overbooked house must take quick action to address the problem that may confront him or his employees later that evening — the irate guest with a confirmed reservation.

Guest Services

Minibars, bottled water, suntan lotion, and … cardboard suitcase – Vol. 11, No. 4 (September, October)

As hotels struggle to generate extra revenue due to room rate compression and lack of rate integrity, TRC staffers have noticed that many hotels are offering more than just the traditional minibar fare and on-demand movies inside the guestrooms. Offering convenience products inside the guestroom has evolved into a new spectrum for many hotels.

Service recovery in action – Vol. 11, No. 3 (July, August)

It’s funny how things work out sometimes. It was just last issue that TRC published an article titled “Empowering Employees to Please Guests.” And then opportunity knocked, portraying itself as ever-present as one could imagine in an act of fate.

Empowering employees to please your guests – Vol. 11, No. 2 (May, June)

Recently, TRC received an inquiry through its website from a Front Office Manager asking how to boost his problem resolution scores. This question is not uncommon, as many FOM’s and Guest Service Managers must struggle with the issue of resolving complaints from guests while maintaining rate and fiscal integrity and minimizing rebates, comps, and potential allowances. Empowering guest contact employees to resolve complaints on the spot is an ideal way to help increase complaint resolution scores.

HouseKeeping

Floor grout cleaning – Vol. 11, No. 5 (November, December)

Seasoned executive housekeepers know well that one of the toughest jobs associated with their specialization is the task of maintaining the grouting in a hotel’s marble, granite, or ceramic floor surface. It is easy for guests to observe the difference in grouting by comparing grout lines up against a wall with those in more heavily-trafficked areas. Unlike the stone surface, grout lines are recessed, are more porous, have a tendency to discolor, and are more susceptible to residue buildup.

Personal touches can brighten a guest stay – Vol. 11, No. 4 (September, October)

Most people realize that the hospitality industry is part of the service sector; as such, there is an expectation by guests that they will be serviced in a warm and hospitable manner. How a hotel’s employees treat their guests when the traveler is not present can speak volumes about the commitment of the property to serving its clientele and to making each guest’s stay memorable.

Guestroom doors open or closed? – Vol. 11, No. 3 (July, August)

In the most recent issue of The Rooms Chronicle, TRC asked its readers to share their hotel’s policy regarding whether guestroom attendants were required to keep the guestroom door open or closed while the room was being serviced. If the hotel’s policy was indeed to keep the door open, what means were employed to ensure that the room door did not shut. The e-mail responses were several and disparate.

Pros and cons of rooms special cleaning – Vol. 11, No. 1 (January, February, March, April)

Spring cleaning in hotel guestrooms is something that occurs all year long. While there are seasonal resorts that begin their year by deep cleaning all guestrooms, most commercial hotels must perform spring cleaning all throughout the year. The challenges for an executive housekeeper are many.

Public, employee spaces need spring cleaning – Vol. 11, No. 1 (January, February, March, April)

Mention the word “spring” to executive housekeepers and they automatically add the word “clean.” Spring and clean are two words that just go together for managers who focus on the housekeeping side of hotels. And the words provoke vivid images. Say “spring clean” and thoughts pop up of airing it out, washing it down, cleaning it up and throwing it out. Dreams prevail of having everything fresh and organized. But how can a manager change this dream into reality? How can spring cleaning really happen?

Ideas For Fun

How much fun is it to work with your boss? – Vol. 11, No. 1 (January, February, March, April)

A recent question from a TRC reader centered around how to keep work fun for housekeeping employees. This question is raised frequently — asked in different ways. “How do I keep them motivated?” “How can we keep roomkeepers from being bored with their routine job?” It’s not a question just for housekeeping. In fact, managers around the world understand that happy employees are more productive employees. Several corporations have adopted “fun” measures as part of their bonus systems for managers. In fact, one restaurant company determines 20 percent of a store manager’s bonus by how employees answer: “How much fun is it to work with your boss?”

People Skills

Preventing discrimination in a post 9-11 world – Vol. 11, No. 4 (September, October)

It was just two years ago that the nation watched in horror as terrorists armed with knives and boxcutters hijacked four commercial airliners and crashed them into the World Trade Center towers, the Pentagon, and the Pennsylvania countryside. That tragic day dominated the headlines for months. A story that did not grab the headlines, but which occurred immediately after 9-11 and is still happening in towns and cities across the United States, is the backlash against Muslims and individuals from Islamic countries. Not surprisingly, this backlash has made its way into the workplace. Subsequent to September 11, 2001, there has been a dramatic increase in the number of discrimination suits against hoteliers and other employers by individuals who alleged they were discriminated against on the basis of their religion or national origin in violation of federal and New York law. This article provides hotel employers with a “how to” guide for insulating their hotels from successful charges of discrimination regarding employment in the post 9-11 landscape.

Purchasing

Do it right to save money – Vol. 11, No. 4 (September, October)

People who do purchasing for hotels often feel like the most underappreciated part of the staff. When purchasing agents (PAs) do their jobs well, no one complains, but no one tends to notice either. When they don’t do their jobs well, it creates an almost invisible wound that bleeds profit from an organization.

Brooms sweep up as basic, useful tool – Vol. 11, No. 1 (January, February, March, April)

Imagine standing in the middle of a cornfield, the breeze blowing the tassels of the stalks, the sun warming the body, the smell of the rich, fertile earth. A hand reaches out for a plump, full ear and peels back the husk. But instead of the expected golden corn, there is a green, perfectly formed branch of hurl, the basic ingredient of a corn broom. And, rather than central Iowa, this field is located in central Mexico, where a large portion of the world’s broom hurl is grown.

Reservations

Deciding whether or not to accept pets – Vol. 11, No. 5 (November, December)

How much is that doggy in the window? This is a childhood tune that many of us can recall. While still used to lull many an infant or small child to sleep at bedtime, it is a compelling question that hotel owners and operators need to ask themselves in today’s competitive business environment. Just how much is that doggy worth to me?

Spring cleaning can bring success in ’03! – Vol. 11, No. 1 (January, February, March, April)

As the first quarter kicks off a new year in reservations, it is a good time to do some spring cleaning to ensure the hotel is positioned for success.Most hotels are eager to increase revenues over the previous year. Many are hoping to make up any deficits experienced in 2002. It will take more than having a budget in place to achieve these objectives. Adopt a springclean attitude in reservations for the office and the staff, put a plan in place, motivate the team to follow the plan, make the plan tangible and measurable, track success and recognize results! A good spring cleaning will help 2003 be a successful year!

Risk Mangement

Do I need a lifeguard? – Vol. 11, No. 4 (September, October)

In recent issues of The Rooms Chronicle, the standards for swimming pool equipment, safety and maintenance have been discussed. Those standards can commonly be met by a staff member who has knowledge of the applicable criteria but who does not need specialized training or certification to implement them. The supervision of the patrons who use a hotel’s swimming pool during their stay is a different matter. The lifeguard at the pool (if one exists) needs to have a minimum level of certification and training to perform his or her job. And as the employer, the hotel’s management must meet certain criteria for the number, certification, activity and assessment of the lifeguards that it assigns to the pool. The criteria and responsibility for both lifeguards and the properties that employ them discussed here are a good start. It is important to remember, however, that in any case where legal or regulatory standards are applied to an activity, those standards often differ among states or even local governing bodies. Therefore, readers should consider the information in this article as a minimum standard and are advised to check the requirements for pool staffing and safety in their particular locale.

Update on use of CCTV in swimming pool areas – Vol. 11, No. 3 (July, August)

In response to last issue’s risk management article regarding swimming pool safety, TRC received a number of calls from well-established hospitality risk management professionals advising that the use of closed circuit television cameras to monitor swimming areas and pool activities from a remote location (i.e., the front desk) may create a greater expectation of safety from hotel guests and hence impose a greater duty of care on the part of the hotel. If guests see the cameras, they may think that they are continuously monitored by staff dedicated to this effort and that hotel staff will respond immediately and professional help will be summoned if an emergency should occur in the pool area. In short, the mere presence of such cameras can create an implied sense of safety and supervision that guests might unwittingly rely upon to their own detriment. TRC advises all hotels to check with their corporate risk management department, legal counsel, and insurance company to learn the ramifications and legal expectations of installing CCTV in their pool areas or other parts of their property. Hotels should also clearly post signs if no lifeguard is provided or present and provide a phone that dials 911 in order to summon emergency help from outside the hotel.

Pool and spa safety: What’s the standard? – Vol. 11, No. 3 (July, August)

When it comes to safety, sanitation and water quality in swimming pools and spas, the standard of proper care required can vary from state to state and even town to town. While it is impossible to detail all of the specific local requirements, this article will provide an overview of the minimum standards and advisory recommendations from a sampling of state and national associations and then provide some direction to pool operators as to how they may ascertain their specific local requirements.

Simple inspection reduces maintenance and increases swimming pool safety for guests – Vol. 11, No. 2 (May, June)

In a new hotel with a new swimming pool, it would be safe to assume that the pool is constructed with all the safeguards and technology that make it easy to keep it clean and well-maintained while assuring the safety of guests who use that pool. In older properties it could be dangerous to make that same assumption. But that does not mean the pool of an older property cannot be clean, well-maintained and safe. Care and maintenance for the pool begins with a regular, yet simple inspection process to identify at an early stage any conditions that could affect the operation and safety of the pool. The inspection process can be divided into three categories: layout, operation and safety. The items in these categories may overlap somewhat but the repetition only helps to ensure that all goals of the inspection and maintenance program are met.

Safety culture — what’s good for the goose … – Vol. 11, No. 1 (January, February, March, April)

“Is safety something you do or is it how you do everything?” This is a question that should be considered by every manager and every employee of every hotel. How can a manager make safe work practices the culture of the department?

Avoid burnout, simplify work, enjoy life – Vol. 11, No. 1 (January, February, March, April)

In a new hotel with a new swimming pool, it would be safe to assume that the pool is constructed with all the safeguards and technology that make it easy to keep it clean and well-maintained while assuring the safety of guests who use that pool. In older properties it could be dangerous to make that same assumption. But that does not mean the pool of an older property cannot be clean, well-maintained and safe. Care and maintenance for the pool begins with a regular, yet simple inspection process to identify at an early stage any conditions that could affect the operation and safety of the pool. The inspection process can be divided into three categories: layout, operation and safety. The items in these categories may overlap somewhat but the repetition only helps to ensure that all goals of the inspection and maintenance program are met.

Skill Improvement

Effective leadership motivates employees – Vol. 11, No. 1 (January, February, March, April)

Who is a leader in the hotel? The owner? The general manager? The director of sales? How about the front-desk supervisor? The head steward? The restaurant shift supervisor? All of these managers should demonstrate effective leadership qualities. And through their leadership, employees will be motivated to do their best work.

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