VOLUME 11: Issue 1 - 2003

Ask Gail: Signage for guestroom doors – Volume 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?

Ask Gail: Linen inventory process – Volume 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?

Ask Gail: Rub rails in hallways – Volume 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.

Ask Gail: Writing effective memos – Volume 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.

Energy: Space comfort versus energy conservation – Volume 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: Indoor air quality improved by new products – Volume 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! – Volume 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: Effects of overbooking can be costly – Volume 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.

Housekeeping: Pros and cons of rooms special cleaning – Volume 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.

Housekeeping: Public, employee spaces need spring cleaning – Volume 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? – Volume 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?”

Purchasing: Brooms sweep us as basic, useful tool – Volume 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: Spring cleaning can bring success in ’03! – Volume 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 spring clean 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 Management: Avoid burnout, simplify work, enjoy life – Volume 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.

Risk Management: Safety culture – what’s good for the goose… – Volume 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?

Skill Improvement: Effective leadership motivates employees – Volume 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.

VOLUME 11: Issue 2 - 2003

Ask Gail: Guest resistance in providing a driver’s license at check-in – Volume 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?

Ask Gail: Best way to clean mildew from marble steps – Volume 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.

Ask Gail: Choosing mattresses and box springs – Volume 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.

Energy: A six step method to a successful energy management program – Volume 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.

Engineering: Oil vs. Latex Paint: What’s the Difference? – Volume 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.

Guest Services: Empowering employees to please your guests – Volume 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.

Risk Management: Simple inspection reduces maintenance and increases swimming pool safety for guests – Volume 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.

VOLUME 11: Issue 3 - 2003

Energy: Unusual and inexpensive ways to save energy – Volume 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.

Engineering: The ins and outs of grab bars – Volume 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.

Guest Services: Service Recovery in action – Volume 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.

Housekeeping: Guestroom doors open or closed? – Volume 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.

Risk Management: Pool and spa safety: What’s the standard? – Volume 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.

Risk Management: Update on use of CCTV in swimming pool areas – Volume 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.

VOLUME 11: Issue 4 - 2003

Ask Gail: Amenity shrinkage from housekeepers’ carts – Volume 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?

Energy: Water conservation can be invisible to the guest – Volume 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.

Engineering: Preventative maintenance for profitability – Volume 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.

Guest Services: Minibars, bottled water, suntan lotion, and… cardboard suitcase – Volume 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.

Housekeeping: Personal touches can brighten a guest stay – Volume 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.

People Skills: Preventing discrimination in a post 9-11 world – Volume 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 away to save money – Volume 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.

Risk Management: Do I need a lifeguard? – Volume 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.

VOLUME 11: Issue 5 - 2003

Energy: The top 10 energy-saving projects for a hotel – Volume 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.

Front Office: Stressed out about hotel inspections? – Volume 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.

Housekeeping: Floor grout cleaning – Volume 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.

Reservations: Deciding whether or not to accept pets – Volume 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?