VOLUME 13: Issue 1 - 2005

Ask Gail: Housekeeping attendant certification can be used as a motivation tool – Volume 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: An example of how an energy audit save a hotel company big $$$$ – Volume 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.

Front Office: How to handle the ebb and flow of desk clerk finances – Volume 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.

Housekeeping: Back injuries  remain the nation’s number one workplace safety problem – Volume 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.

Risk Management: Don’t be afraid to help guests in danger – Volume 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 13: Issue 2 - 2005

Ask Gail: It is amazing what some guests leave behind when they check out! – Volume 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.

Energy: Coil cleaning can save up to 20% in heating/cooling energy cost – Volume 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.

Housekeeping: Bed bugs: Bad dreams, bad publicity, and bad for business – Volume 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.”

Housekeeping: Preventing mold and mildew growth presents unique challenges – Volume 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.

Housekeeping: Triple-sheeting and the comfort revolution: companies make sweeping changes – Volume 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 enhancement,” 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.

Risk Management: Dealing with the dreaded trespasser – Volume 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.

VOLUME 13: Issue 3 - 2005

Energy: Hotel energy management information on the internet – Volume 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.

Engineering: O-ZoneLite air purification system cleans air just by flipping the light switch – Volume 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•ZoneLite TM presents. O•ZoneLite TM 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.

Engineering: Planning for hotel fire safety is every managers’ job – Volume 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.

Housekeeping: Keeping guestrooms smelling fresh and odor-free the natural way – Volume 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.

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

Showers and tubs have frequently been the bane of hoteliers, not just for the risk they posefor 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.

Risk Management: Duty of Care in the innkeeper-guest relationship – Volume 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.

VOLUME 13: Issue 4 - 2005

Ask Gail: Vending machine refunds are a cause for concern to FOM – Volume 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?

Energy: Bilingual communication issues can result in wasted energy – Volume 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 misunderstandings, ineffective communications, or even general lack of under-standing.

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

Front Office: The perfect check-in: Using ‘touch points’ and ‘operational excellence’ to deliver a great total customer experience – Volume 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.

Guest Services: Why employee nametags are so important – Volume 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: Remembering to clean those often-missed spots in guestrooms – Volume 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.

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

Housekeeping: Laundry Energy Checklist – Volume 13, No. 4 (July, August)

Human Resources: Personnel Records: What you need to know to avoid possible liability – Volume 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.

Risk Management: When it comes to liability, it’s not who you know – Volume 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.

VOLUME 13: Issue 5 - 2005

Front Office: What to do if you receive counterfeit money – Volume 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.

Reservations: Online Reviews: What every hotelier should know – Volume 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 – Volume 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. Itemssuch 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.

VOLUME 13: Issue 6 - 2005

Engineering: Backup generators are an indispensable tool for hotels and resorts – Volume 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.

Housekeeping: The sweet smell of success: Sachets for hotel guestrooms – Volume 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.

Human Resources: Employee references: The danger in providing inaccurate information – Volume 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.