VOLUME 15: Issue 1 - 2007

Human Resources: Missed breaks and off-the-clock work can lead to enormous jury awards – Volume 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.

Risk Management: Will you survive and inspections when the OSHA inspector comes knocking? – Volume 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.

VOLUME 15: Issue 2 - 2007

Energy: Renovate not just for appearances, but also to realize energy savings – Volume 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 needs any chemicals to do its job – Volume 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.

Housekeeping: Thread count basics every housekeeping manager should know – Volume 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.

Risk Management: An innovative method to connect with hotel employees regarding workplace safety – Volume 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.

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

The nature of hotel guests and the length and purposes of their stays have evolved over theyears. 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.

VOLUME 15: Issue 3 - 2007

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

Dear Gail: The lobby of our hotel is made up of light-colored tiles and similar white marblesurface. 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: Twenty proven ways to save energy in limited-service hotels – Volume 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.

Energy: Advances in toilet technology pump up potential for water savings – Volume 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.

Human Resources: Employee handbooks and confidentiality: A potential pitfall for hoteliers – Volume 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.

People Skills: Five key rules for a more effective General Manager – Volume 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.

Risk Management: Police searches of guestrooms and the innkeeper’s responsibilities – Volume 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.

VOLUME 15: Issue 4 - 2007

Ask Gail: Determining why housekeeping guest services scores are low – Volume 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?

Energy: Time to get serious about water conservation – Here are several steps to get started – Volume 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.

Front Office: Nine steps to effortlessly assist a guest when their credit card is declined – Volume 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 post a potential legal dilemma for hotels – Volume 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.

Human Resources: Technical Skills Training – Volume 15, No. 4 (July, August)

Checklists for Room and Lobby Attendants.

Reservations: Understanding leisure guests enables hotels to satisfy their needs – Volume 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: When it comes to guestroom hot water, how hot is hot enough? – Volume 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 Powers TM, a supplier of water tempering technology, revealed some rather shocking information. Of the rooms surveyed, nearly 90% had scalding water at the guestroom taps.

Risk Management: Transfer your risk… Don’t get stuck paying for something you didn’t do – Volume 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.

Sales and Marketing: Don’t leave revenue on the table… Internal sales – The art of conversation – Volume 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 15: Issue 5 - 2007

Ask Gail: Question about toilet leaks and replacing flapper valves – Volume 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.

Front Office: Safe deposit ox procedures must be followed to avoid unlimited liability – Volume 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.

Housekeeping: Four easy steps to achieving the “ultimate fold” for hotel towels – Volume 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.

Housekeeping: Motivating room attendants to clean better and pay attention to detail – Volume 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?

Human Resources: Misclassifying hotel workers as independent contractors could lead to costly liability – Volume 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.

Risk Management: Identify and prioritize risks to help control crisis situations – Volume 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.

VOLUME 15: Issue 6 - 2007

Energy: Save energy and money in stairwells by choosing the right lighting options – Volume 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.

From the Editor – Volume 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: Management companies – Choose your dance partner wisely of get tripped up – Volume 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.

Front Office: To what classes of individuals may a hotel refuse to rent guestrooms to? – Volume 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.

Front Office: Improving profitability can be achieved by focusing on four management areas – Volume 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.

Housekeeping: Ten steps to guest-room deep cleaning will maintain your hotel investment – Volume 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.

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

Since 1847, when chlorine was first used as asanitizer, 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 needfor soaps and detergents in a variety ofhousekeeping applications.

Human Resources: Employees on the “mommy track”: Hoteliers should proceed with caution – Volume 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.

Human Resources: Racially hostile work environment created by co-worker singing – Volume 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.

People Skills: Hotel common sense – Orientation for all staff is essential for lasting success – Volume 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.

Risk Management: OSHA Poster – Volume 15, No. 6 (November, December)

Job Safety and Health — It’s The Law!