VOLUME 14: Issue 1 - 2006

Ask Gail: Determining the cause and source of small hairs on bed linens – Volume 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: Light up energy savings by following a few simple guidelines – Volume 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.

Energy: Saving money through water usage adds up quickly for hotels – Volume 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.

Front Office: More than ever, front desk responsible for verifying guests’ identity – Volume 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: Innovative doorsteps make tasks easier for hotel personnel – Volume 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 saferby using a brightly colored polymer wedge that is intended to be inserted between the door and door frame.

Guest Services: Four methods to enable the continual delivery of service excellence – Volume 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: Hookless shower curtains and curved shower rods for guestrooms – Volume 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: Behavioral-based interviewing helps get the right people on your bus! – Volume 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.

Human Resources: Exercise caution when receiving complaints from employees about discrimination – Volume 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.

Risk Management: Legally speaking, ice and snow poses a dilemma for hotel managers – Volume 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 14: Issue 2 - 2006

Energy: Straight talk about hotel energy myths – Volume 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

Housekeeping: Marble floors require a three stage cleaning and maintenance program – Volume 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.

Human Resources: Behavioral interviewing gets the right people on the housekeeping bus! – Volume 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.

Human Resources: Hoteliers beware: Is there no such things as a free lunch? – Volume 14, No. 2 (March, 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.

People Skills: Managing motivation: When employees don’t want to play – Volume 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.

Risk Management: “Hiring Smart” means doing critical background checks – Volume 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.

VOLUME 14: Issue 3 - 2006

Ask Gail: Questions about handling Do-Not-Disturb sign situations – Volume 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.

Housekeeping: Dispensers offer affordable amenity solution while reducing waste – Volume 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.

Housekeeping: What every manager needs to know wit alleviate hotel laundry woes – Volume 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.

VOLUME 14: Issue 4 - 2006

Ask Gail: Cooling standards for PTAC units are explained – Volume 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.

Front Office: Cashier bank audit basics for front desk managers – Volume 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.

Front Office: Credit card scam confuses hotel guests but lays the blame at front desk – Volume 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.

Guest Services: Using guest frequency program rewards to resolve guest complaints – Volume 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.

Human Resources: Caution! “English-Only” in the workplace can be a discriminatory practice – Volume 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”).

People Skills: Demonstrating professionalism in maintenance and engineering – Volume 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.

VOLUME 14: Issue 5 - 2006

Risk Management: Linen chutes save time and effort but must always be secured – Volume 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.

Risk Management: An overview of OSHA recordkeeping essentials for hotel managers – Volume 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.

Risk Management: Beware of requests for information… especially if it is phoned in – Volume 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.

VOLUME 14: Issue 6 - 2006

Ask Gail: Removing hair and dust from the walls and chemicals from housekeepers cards – Volume 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.

Engineering: Professional engineering department yields energy savings – Volume 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.

Engineering: Recessed emergency lighting gives hoteliers new choices and better protection – Volume 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?

Housekeeping: Unique technology introduced for “sniffing out” hotel bedbug infestations – Volume 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.

Reservations: A quick overview of life on the road: The female business traveler perspective – Volume 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.