VOLUME 12: Issue 1 - 2004

Cover Story: Is your hotel “heart safe”? – Volume 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.

Energy: Time-of-day rates, peak controls save $$$ – Volume 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.

Front Office: AAA inspections for hotels – Volume 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: Creating a personalized atmosphere to welcome returning guests – Volume 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.

Guest Services: Creating a personalized atmosphere to welcome returning guests – Volume 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: Cleaning bathroom floors in guestrooms… are microfiber mops the answer? – Volume 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.

Reservations: Matching pet owners with receptive hotels – Volume 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.

Skill Improvement: Shift changes provide opportunities for improved service – Volume 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 12: Issue 2 - 2004

Cover Story: Manager share ideas to increase profits – Volume 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.

Cover Story: Three reasons why service stinks! – Volume 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.

Guest Services: Positive skills show guests you care – Volume 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.

Housekeeping: Room maintenance is not a housekeeping responsibility – Volume 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.

People Skills: Structured hospitality internships – Volume 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: Tips to remember and mistakes to avoid when purchasing – Volume 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.

Risk Management: Implementing an AED program in your hotel – Volume 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 RoomsChronicle, 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.

VOLUME 12: Issue 3 - 2004

Ask Gail: Laptop thefts from guestrooms – Volume 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!

Front Office: No-show charges – Yet another conundrum for the general manager – Volume 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.

Housekeeping: Choosing the right vacuum cleaner for different hotel needs – Volume 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.

VOLUME 12: Issue 4 - 2004

Ask Gail: Questions about handling housekeeper tips – Volume 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.

Energy: It’s time to reexamine energy saving capital projects – Volume 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.

Engineering: Lockout/Tagout training critical for engineering personnel – Volume 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: Kiosk check-in/check-out technology finally hits home for  – Volume 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?

Housekeeping: Communication between F&B and housekeeping departments critical to avoid costly mistakes  – Volume 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.

Purchasing: Making heads or tails out of the supplier selection process – Volume 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.

Risk Management: Limiting liability statutes for guests’ property offer protections for hotels – Volume 12, No. 4 (July, August)

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.

VOLUME 12: Issue 5 - 2004

Energy: Ozone laundry systems save water, energy and chemicals – Volume 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.

Engineering: Engineering training and resource manuals are an essential tool – Volume 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.

Front Office: Walking a guest is never easy, so prepare early – Volume 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.”

Housekeeping: Do not overlook the need to properly maintain anti-slip floors – Volume 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.

People Skills: Developing and conducting training programs for customer service employees – Volume 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.

Risk Management: Hotel liability for guests’ personal personal can be enormous – Volume 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.

VOLUME 12: Issue 6 - 2004

Energy: Housekeeping and engineering work together to save energy – Volume 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.

Engineering: Now is the time to examine your fire extinguishers for reliability – Volume 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.

Front Office: No more rooms, but lots of guests: It is time to walk… here’s how – Volume 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.

Housekeeping: Dealing with urine stains and their odor in bathroom floors – Volume 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.

People Skills: Motivating customer service employees is an investment requiring commitment – Volume 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.