VOLUME 16: Issue 1 - 2008

Ask Gail: Three techniques for removing tar and gum from hotel carpets – Volume 16, No. 1 (January, February)

In response to an inquiry from a subscriber, Gail offers three different techniques for removing tar and gum from hotel carpeting without damaging the flooring.

Energy: Good and bad energy-related investments for green hotels – Volume 16, No. 1 (January, February)

Energy conservation projects for hotels which are analyzed properly can provide a return three, four or even five times greater than traditional investments. The result of these projects also returns to the owner in the form of improved assets and human comfort within the hotel facility. In this article, TRC energy expert Phil Sprague reviews both the good and bad forms of green-oriented energy-related investments that a hotelier can spend his money on.

From the Editor – Volume 16, No. 1 (January, February)

Our first issue of 2008 is chock full of information that is currently affecting the hotel industry and the way in which you operate your hotels. Various topics include: the looming recession and what hoteliers can do to prepare for the cyclical inevitability, what hotel managers need to know about current efforts to mandate paid sick leave for both full-time and part-time employees, good and bad energy-related investments, and email etiquette for hoteliers. Also included in this issue are tips for combating on-the-job theft by employees, creative towel presentation techniques, and legal considerations when renting guestrooms.

Front Office: Developing a rental policy to protect the hotel that is legal – Volume 16, No. 1 (January, February)

In the last edition of The Rooms Chronicle, there was a discussion surrounding the ability of hotel management to restrict access to their property to persons living within 30 miles of the property in an attempt to curb the use of a hotel to conduct criminal activity. That premise then gave rise to a discussion about the constitutional and legislative requirements which may apply when developing policies for a property that serve to restrict access to rooms to a particular group or class of people. This article examines the analysis a court could go through to determine the legal validity of any policy that limits access. This analysis can be used as a tool by hotel managers to determine the parameters of any policy they seek to institute in order to restrict access to persons seeking to rent a room at their hotel.

Housekeeping: Small but creative housekeeping touches that cost little but will impress guests – Volume 16, No. 1 (January, February)

Cleanliness is the guest’s main concern when staying at a hotel. It’s easy to keep a room clean, but it the small, creative touches that will make a hotel stand out from all the others. This article discusses a few of the creative touches that housekeepers can implement, though the primary focus is on towel creations and how to make them.

Housekeeping: Documenting employee performance through housekeeping checklist – Volume 16, No. 1 (January, February)

As hotel managers are well aware, standards of cleanliness and presentation are established by each brand, corporate office, or owner, and it is the responsibility of the general manager and housekeeping leadership team to ensure that these standards are met. Unfortunately, some less conscientious housekeeping employees may not heed standards as well as others. They often seek shortcuts to complete their allotment of assigned rooms or guest floors. When this happens, cleanliness and appearance take a back seat to convenience and rapidity. As this article discusses, this is where checklists can serve as both a reminder to the employee and as an inspection and documentation tool for assessment and progressive discipline measures.

Housekeeping: Housekeeping Cart Inspection Checklist & Guest Floor Inspection Checklist (insert) – Volume 16, No. 1 (January, February)

Inserted in this issue of The Rooms Chronicle are two housekeeping inspection checklists, one for room attendant’s carts and the other for housemen guest floor duties. These are a great way to remind new trainees about their various duties and for them to refer to when stocking their housekeeping carts at the start of their shift. These checklists are intended to augment those provided in the July/August 2007 issue of TRC, which included Technical Skills Training Checklists for new room attendants and lobby attendants.

Human Resources: Emerging concern for hoteliers: Paid sick leave. From benefit to mandate? – Volume 16, No. 1 (January, February)

An estimated 70 million working Americans lack sick time benefits. Proponents of paid sick leave laws say this is a problem that needs to be fixed. Politicians at the city, state and national levels have lent a sympathetic ear. In 2007, San Francisco became the first locale in America to require employers to provide employees with paid sick leave. Other cities, states and, perhaps even the nation, may soon follow San Francisco’s lead. Labor law attorney Don Lee discusses the potential impact for hoteliers of this imminent legislation.

People Skills: Thank you TRC subscribers for helping to educate the leaders of tomorrow – Volume 16, No. 1 (January, February)

Did you know that subscriptions to The Rooms Chronicle® help prepare future hotel managers? Subscriptions to TRC contribute to the practical industry applications focus of students in Niagara University’s College of Hospitality and Tourism Management. Through the sales of subscriptions, The Rooms Chronicle® contributes funding to many initiatives that collectively comprise the College’s practical industry applications focus. The support of all TRC subscribers helps to make a difference in the hospitality education provided by Niagara University.

People Skills: Email etiquette for hoteliers – An overview – Volume 16, No. 1 (January, February)

With the invention of email, the world of convenience has been taken to a new level. The proverbial game of “telephone tag” has been dramatically downsized. The cost involved with many types of mailings has also decreased and, in general, our ability to save time and speed up decision making all have led to a more effective work environment. There are many different opinions that surround what is considered to be proper email etiquette; however, there are certain basic pointers that can be given to enhance its’ effectiveness. This article offers suggestions pertaining to email privacy, e-grammar, email responses, formatting, flaming, and printing.

Reservations: Is a recession looming? How hotels can prepare for an inevitable economic downturn – An overview – Volume 16, No. 1 (January, February)

Globally, the hospitality industry has been enjoying some very successful consecutive years of growth, despite some bumps on the way such as oil prices, currency exchange rates and border and passport issues. However, the future is potentially uncertain; a recession in the United States is looming, and this will have consequences for the tourism industry, not only in the U.S., but possibly worldwide. In this article, TRC reservations expert Eric Barber explains what each hotelier should do to prepare for a possible economic downturn.

Reservations: Preventing on-the-job theft: Tips for reducing employee theft and credit card fraud – Volume 16, No. 1 (January, February)

The U.S. Small Business Administration reports employee theft as the major cause of business failures for the small business enterprise. And while random acts of theft and collusion, in whatever guise, will unlikely bring down the larger corporation or one of its facilities, an insider scam can do significant damage to the bottom line of any hotel property. This article presents tips for reducing theft by employees and provides actionable advice on how to prevent credit card fraud in hotels.

Sales & Marketing: Major sporting events and their effect on hotel occupancy – Volume 16, No. 1 (January, February)

Super Bowl XLII has come to a successful conclusion; the New England Patriots fell short of their quest for perfection and the New York Giants stunned the sporting world with perhaps one of greatest Super Bowl upsets ever. However, perhaps the biggest winners in all of this are the hotel owners and operators in the Greater Phoenix Area. Mega-sport events like the Super Bowl and the Olympics bring large crowds needing overnight accommodations. There are a variety of ways to take advantage of these events and enhance occupancy rates, both during the event and for future bookings. As this article reveals, the key is preparation.

VOLUME 16: Issue 2 - 2008

Ask Gail: How long must hotel records be maintained? – Volume 16, No. 2 (March, April)

In this article, a reader inquires how long business records must be maintained in the hotel’s storage closet before they may be disposed. Gail explains the Statute of Limitations as they apply to business records and provides a chart outlining the require number of year that hotels in each state should maintain their records.

Energy: Adjustable speed drives save energy in hotels – Volume 16, No. 2 (March, April)

Hotels can realize considerable energy savings by employing an adjustable speed drive on mechanical motors that are utilized for a variety of applications in the lodging industry. Unfortunately, most hotel managers fail to realize this and their property continues to incur excessive energy bills. This article will discuss the various applications of adjustable speed drives and how your hotel might benefit from their use.

From the Editor – Volume 16, No. 2 (March, April)

Economically, time are tough and getting tougher. The financial markets have seen many downward swings recently, gasoline is well above $3.00 a gallon in nearly every part of the United States now, and everyone is hotly debating whether we are doomed for a recession or whether we have already arrived there. Yet, the Lodging Industry has remained incredibly robust. For a business that relies extensively on the spending of people’s discretionary dollars, something that should normally be restricted during an impending recession, hotels have faired quite well. And will probably continue to do so.

Front Office: There is no second chance to make a first impression – Volume 16, No. 2 (March, April)

Although this is an old cliché, it has never been more apparent than in the hotel industry. Every department of a hotel has specific responsibilities to keep the operation running smoothly and effectively. Guest satisfaction depends on it. However, the front office can play a key role in changing customers’ attitudes positively or negatively. This article discusses how front office personnel have the opportunity to provide guests with a “great experience” as soon as they walk in the front door and this initial contact can have a direct impact on the rest of the guest’s stay.

Front Office: The prevalence and future of internet access in hotels – Volume 16, No. 2 (March, April)

The more technology becomes a necessity in today’s society, whether at home or at the office, the more individuals begin to crave that same technology while on the road. This trend not only includes business travelers but leisure guests as well. It seems that while business travelers need to maintain contact with the office and their clients, leisure travelers have started to become reliant on remaining in contact via email with family and friends during their vacations. Internet access within hotels seems to be the solution for many guests to continue their traveling with the most convenience. This article discusses the results of two recent surveys and explains how much guests are willing to pay for Internet access.

Housekeeping: When training new housekeeping employees, “Think outside of the triangle” – Volume 16, No. 2 (March, April)

Have you figure it out yet? Training is a big deal, if not an investment in the human capital that drives any hotel’s housekeeping department. If you look at all the truly successful companies, you will see a strong emphasis placed on training. Maybe it’s time we think “Outside of the triangle, instead of outside the box”. After considering the three main points in this article, take a look at your training process to see how you can make it more fun-filled and informative.

Housekeeping: Duvet Covers: An upcoming trend that promotes cleanliness – Volume 16, No. 2 (March, April)

One of the top trends in the hotel industry concerning its guestrooms focuses on the bed. Major hotels are coming up with innovations to provide more comfort since the development of Westin Hotel’s “Heavenly Bed” debut in 1999. Along with the demands of comfort, the use of duvet covers provides a certain aspect of cleanliness as well. This article discusses the various benefits that duvet covers provide to guests and to hoteliers.

Human Resources: Newer alternatives for obtaining legal representation in employment matters – Volume 16, No. 2 (March, April)

Hoteliers must comply with an ever-increasing number of employment laws covering a broad range of areas, such as wage/hour, employee leaves of absence, discrimination, labor relations, and safety. More and more lawsuits and administrative actions are being filed by current and former employees. In this operating environment, many hoteliers are looking for cost-effective ways to make more informed employment-related decisions on the front end as a preventive measure. For problems that arise after the decision has been made, hoteliers are seeking to minimize their liability and expenses when they find themselves embroiled in a legal dispute. This article discusses options to which hoteliers have turned to accomplish these objectives.

Human Resources: Changes to the FMLA will pose long term ramifications for hotels – Volume 16, No. 2 (March, April)

For the first time since its enactment in 1993, the Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) has received long awaited attention from the Department of Labor (DOL) and Congress. Proposed regulations have been introduced to clarify key provisions and amendments which have been enacted to expand the scope of leave permitted under the Act. On January 23, 2008, President Bush signed into law an amendment expanding the FMLA to provide eligible employees, including next of kin, with protected leave to care for a family member injured in the Armed Forces or for any “qualifying exigency” when a family member in the Armed Forces is on active duty or is called into active duty. The provisions which the DOL has issued proposed regulations and their ramifications for hoteliers are discussed.

People Skills: When is discrimination not discrimination? When guests violate “house rules” – Volume 16, No. 2 (March, April)

It has become common knowledge that the “D word” — that is…discrimination — strikes fear in the hearts of business owners and managers, and hotel proprietors are no different. There is an unbridled perception that if a customer infers discrimination and the legal remedies that goes with it, Management will capitulate and the customer will get whatever he or she wants. But it is important for hotel managers to understand and assert their rights to operate their lodging properties under reasonable house rules that they establish, even in the face of such allegations.

People Skills: Tips for welcoming international guests to your hotel – Volume 16, No. 2 (March, April)

The Travel Industry Association forecasts that the number of international travelers visiting the United States will grow by more than 3% annually in 2008, 2009 and 2010 with spending for these respective years projected to be $98.6 billion, $105.7 billion, and $112.9 billion. International visitors are an important tourism market segment and represent a tremendous economic benefit to our communities, often spending double what the domestic visitor spends and staying longer. So now do a quick assessment. Could you be more prepared to welcome international visitors? Here are some tips to help make your international guests feel more welcome.

Risk Management: Ten points to help ensure a safe work environment for hotel employees – Volume 16, No. 2 (March, April)

“Safety is everyone’s job in the workplace.” There is no disputing this. Yet, when it comes to minimizing risk, or worse, defending against claims of liability in the workplace, it is often the employer, as represented by Management, which is held legally accountable for injuries incurred by staff members. This means quite simply that each and every manager bears the legal and ethical responsibility to monitor workplace environs, take immediate action to correct or warn about known dangers, and to promote and maintain amongst departments and staff safe work practices. Short and sweet, here are ten points for every hotel manager to embrace to help ensure a safer workplace.

VOLUME 16: Issue 3 - 2008

Engineering: The “inns” and outs of automatic doors for hotels – Volume 16, No. 3 (May, June)

According to research conducted by The American Association of Automatic Door Manufacturers, 447 participants were asked to assess the level of importance they put on automatic doors at various locations, including hotels and motels. Almost 60 percent of the consumers surveyed expected to find automatic doors at hotels. And when participants were asked to name specific locations where automatic doors are essential yet not sometimes present, shopping malls, hotels/motels and post offices were mentioned the most. Clearly, there is an unmet need for automatic doors in hotels. The reluctance of some hotel operators to install automatic doors could very well stem from a lack of understanding of the benefits, costs and other issues related to automatic doors. As presented in this article, by developing a basic knowledge of these issues, hotel operators can more effectively determine if automatic doors are right for their facility and can save them money.

From the Editor – Volume 16, No. 3 (May, June)

Undoubtedly, today’s business climate for hoteliers dealing with employment law issues is a proverbial minefield to be traversed. Managers face hundreds of employment decisions every year, many with significant legal ramifications that will ultimately affect their hotels profitability. Realizing this, the nationally known employment law firm of Ford & Harrison has developed a pre-paid legal hotline service especially for TRC readers. Because of the pre-paid nature of the plan, I am absolutely confident that your investment in the hotline offer will save you significant money in the long run and encourage you to seek competent and reliable legal advice that will enable you to choose the most appropriate course of action that will best serve the interests of your hotel.

Front Office: In today’s hotel environment, six steps to ensure guests’ identity and privacy – Volume 16, No. 3 (May, June)

A recent identity fraud survey report reveals that 8.4 million Americans were the victims of identity fraud in 2007, totally $49.3 billion or an average of $5,720 per victim. Based on the Federal Trade Commission’s compilation of consumer complaints for that time frame, it was also reported that credit card fraud was the most pervasive form of identity theft of all complaints. Given that hotels house and serve perfect strangers (as our guests) and thus handle financial transactions on a daily basis, lodging facilities are a perfect haven for those who may seek to compromise someone else’s identity through either impersonation of someone else’s identity or use of others’ credit cards, travelers checks, personal checks. Realizing the omnipresent threat that is posed on a daily basis, every hotel has a responsibility to safeguard the identity and financial instruments of its guests to the extent that it can and not serve as the conduit to identity compromise or source of identity theft. In this effort, this article presents six steps that every hotel can and should undertake to do our part to ensure each guest’s identity and privacy.

Front Office: What are your front desks clerks watching? And who is watching them? – Volume 16, No. 3 (May, June)

Since hotels are “round the clock” operations, Management certainly can’t be in all places at once to supervise personnel, assess potential threats to or from guests or immediately recognize hotel vulnerabilities. But one commonality remains among nearly all hotel properties regardless of size or service level; most hotel front desks are staffed 24 hours a day. In an effort to be more productive and expense conscious, hotel managers sometimes expect too much from desk personnel to the point where this most important surveillance function is frequently compromised, and so too is the safety of the guests and employees and the potential security and financial well-being of the property. This article is a “must read” for all hoteliers who care about their guests, employees, and hotel.

Guest Services: The “Cheers” Factor in guest service satisfaction,retention and loyalty – Volume 16, No. 3 (May, June)

For 11 years of Thursday nights, Norm Peterson made his way down the stairs, to the Cheers Pub in Boston. When he walked through the door and said “Afternoon Everybody!” the reaction was always a warm resounding “NORM!!!” At that moment in Norm’s day, anything that may have caused him irritation, stress, uncertainty, etc. was simply forgotten…for awhile. Norm and the gang got to experience a phenomenon known as the “Cheers” Factor – Taking the understanding of customers to a higher level, to make each interaction a sincere and memorable experience. This article discusses how hotels can create similar guest loyalty utilizing the “Cheers” Factor.

Housekeeping: Missed opportunities to ensure quality and consistency – A day in the life of a bed sheet – Volume 16, No. 3 (May, June)

Veteran hotel manager Tim Burns analogizes how reality television shows record real people doing stuff in real life. So, what if hotel managers could have this at their hotel and really see what is happening in their daily operations? In this case study of how things can go wrong in hotel operations, he presents the idea of “a day in the life of a bed sheet”.

Housekeeping: “Pay-per-room” cleaning can save time and labor expense while increasing service scores and room attendant satisfaction – Volume 16, No. 3 (May, June)

It is widely known that the highest cost of business in a hotel is labor, and that Rooms Division employees constitute the bulk of the labor cost in any hotel. Therefore, the quandary that hotel managers are faced with is this: How to balance the pressure from owners and stakeholders to keep labor costs down, yet still maintain a competitive advantage when it comes to retention of quality employees? One solution to the problem of labor disparity and inequity between housekeeper work levels is that of the “pay-per-room” model. This model operates on the basis that housekeepers can clean a set amount of rooms/credits in an eight-hour day. It then divides the total number of rooms to be cleaned by the hourly pay received for eight hours of work in order to come up with the “per-room payment”. From a guest, owner, and associate perspective, this program can be a huge success affording greater flexibility for managers. The hotel will realize bottom line gains from this program, and housekeepers will be motivated to do their jobs effectively and efficiently.

Housekeeping: Communication tips for housekeeping personnel – Volume 16, No. 3 (May, June)

In the housekeeping profession there are several methods of communication that managers employ on a daily basis. Yet, it is no surprise that communication gaps exists in housekeeping departments as frequently employees speak languages other than English. In this article Veteran housekeeping manager David Green shares various techniques to bridge the communication gap and ensure effective two-way communication with housekeeping employees.

Human Resources: Employment law “hotline” is a unique opportunity for TRC subscribers – Volume 16, No. 3 (May, June)

The Rooms Chronicle® has established a strategic agreement with Ford & Harrison LLP, one of the nation’s leading hospitality employment and labor law firms, to make high quality legal advice readily available at an affordable cost to hoteliers who seek immediate guidance on employment and labor law matters. This article provides details about this unique offering available especially for TRC subscribers.

Human Resources: The new role of Human Resources will help the bottom line of hotels – Volume 16, No. 3 (May, June)

In today’s work environment, managers are required to multitask and to perform additional responsibilities. There is so much attention being placed on the daily activities of the operation, that many of the internal relationship expectations are becoming an afterthought with the management team. This article explains how a hotel’s Human Resources department can help maintain their focus by becoming more involved in the day to day operation and communicating the mission to staff at all levels of the hotel.

Sales & Marketing: Present day competition for guests’ money poses unique challenges for hotels – Volume 16, No. 3 (May, June)

Competition for the discretionary dollar has become increasingly fierce in recent years and, to a greater extent, in recent months as a perfect storm of domestic economic instability, decreased consumer purchasing power, and significant overseas demand for American economic staples continues to gather steam. This has forced Americans to make some drastic choices in how they choose to spend their discretionary income. Because the economic success of the hotel industry is heavily dependent on the flow of discretionary spending, lodging industry professionals need to understand that the landscape of competition is changing dramatically and unique marketing strategies and sales techniques will need to be implemented full force in order to stay afloat. This article identifies immediate threats that hoteliers face to earn guests’ discretionary dollars and offers suggestions on how to achieve this in an unstable financial market.

VOLUME 16: Issue 4 - 2008

Energy: Hotel energy conservation can be as easy as 1, 2, 3 – Volume 16, No. 4 (July, August)

The recent change in the cost of energy will have a profound effect on any hotel’s return on investments for energy conservation projects. A project that may have had a two-year return on investment might now have a six-month return, and so on. For hotels that are strapped for cash for energy investments, this article may help them get started on an energy saving program. With energy at its current rates, a hotel’s monthly savings on capital investments for energy conservation will likely be greater than the monthly finance payments, thus giving the hotel a more positive cash flow and increasing the value of the property.

Engineering: Protecting hotel guests with environmentally friendly pest control – Volume 16, No. 4 (July, August)

There are numerous ways that hoteliers have implemented green practices to provide a more enjoyable experience for their guests. One of the easiest but least often considered ways to keep hotel guests happy – without them even knowing it – is to reduce the environmental impact of a hotel’s pest control program. Integrated Pest Management (IPM) is a holistic approach to pest management that emphasizes source reduction and considers why pests infest a facility in the first place. In this article, pest control expert Patrick T. Copps explains how through IPM, along with other non-chemical green pest control practices, a hotel can ensure that the property remains pest-free, aesthetically pleasing, and a welcome place for guests.

Engineering: Self-contained engineering cart increases efficiency and productivity – Volume 16, No. 4 (July, August)

Few challenges associated with owning or operating a lodging property can be as frustrating as worker productivity issues. Often it seems that hotel engineers or maintenance workers never seem to have the necessary tools or parts to complete a work assignment. Instead of getting the job done quickly and moving on to the next one, they are forced to return to the maintenance shop and search for a misplaced tool or drive to the hardware store to buy a needed hardware item. These diversions can become frustrating and costly; the wasted time cuts into employee efficiency. As this article illustrates, these situations can be avoided through the utilization of a self-contained yet portable maintenance cart that incorporates the vast majority of the tools and parts needed for guestroom repairs and preventive maintenance tasks. The engineering cart can increase productivity, and promote a professional appearance and employee responsibility.

Engineering: Progressive recycling programs for fluorescent lamps available to hotels – Volume 16, No. 4 (July, August)

Most hotels across the country are finding that they can save energy and money by switching from incandescent to fluorescent lamps in their premises. But while maintaining the “green” status and cutting costs on energy consumption are obviously attractive to any manager, what many might not know is that fluorescent lamps and compact fluorescent lamps (CFLs) can pose environmental hazards if they are not disposed of properly. The threat to the environment and increasing government regulations now require hotels to recycle fluorescent lamps or face stiff penalties. This article introduces two unique fluorescent recycling options that will enable hotels to remain compliant and work towards “green” certification.

From the Editor – Volume 16, No. 4 (July, August)

We have several first-time contributing authors joining the regular TRC cadre of Phil Sprague, Todd Seiders, Eric Barber, and David Green for this issue. Many of these individuals share a product, service, or innovation that will facilitate hotel managers moving their hotels closer towards Green compliance and LEED certification. Certainly, this is the focus of many lodging properties currently. I also wanted to take a moment and welcome an industry icon to the TRC slate of contributing authors…

Front Office: The most expensive hotel in-room movie in history – Volume 16, No. 4 (July, August)

In October 2007, a Norwalk, California Superior Court Jury found a limited-service hotel liable for involuntarily subjecting 8 and 9-year old sisters to hard-core pornographic movies during their hotel stay. The jury awarded the mother $85,000 in damages; it held the hotel was liable since it allegedly didn’t have “lock outs” to pornography on its television screens. The award was based on the mother’s claim of emotional distress for her and her daughters as a result of the hotel’s negligence. This article examines the potential impact this court decision holds for other hotels and the steps hoteliers should take to prevent facing a similar suit.

Front Office: Video capabilities can increase productivity and profitability – Volume 16, No. 4 (July, August)

Many hotels, like most other public and private facilities, have long had video cameras installed in various locations throughout their properties. Today, innovative operators are realizing video isn’t just for security and loss prevention anymore; it has become a strategic management tool that can be used to improve customer experience, employee and management productivity, and operational efficiency. As this article illustrates, hoteliers can use the Internet to remotely view live or digitally recorded video from cameras that are located at strategic points within their hotels. By examining this video, general managers, security personnel, operations managers and even owners can all gain a better understanding of what is happening or what happened at any of their properties anywhere in the world, and use that information to improve how they operate, increase their profitability, and improve their guests’ experience.

Housekeeping: Why hotel furniture asset management shouldn’t be swept under the carpet – Volume 16, No. 4 (July, August)

During lean economic times, some hotel owners may attempt to cut costs and reduce services in order to save money. One aspect may include deferring capital investments projects for a hotel’s furniture, fixtures and equipment. This articles discusses how a single location bed & breakfast or a worldwide hotel chain with thousands of rooms per location can maximize return on its furniture investment through proper grading, tracking, maintaining, and managing furniture assets in order to save money.

Housekeeping: Four simple steps for housekeeping managers considering “going green” – Volume 16, No. 4 (July, August)

It seems that both in the hotel industry and in general society, everyone is talking green these days, and for good reason. For housekeeping managers, there are many benefits to “going green” including improvement in the hotel’s indoor air quality, increase in employee productivity and morale, reduction in sick days and associated healthcare costs, and a reduction in water usage, air pollution, and product waste. However, some managers are still hesitant to develop and implement a green cleaning program. For those who fit in that category, this article presents four simple steps to help get started.

Reservations: Effectively managing user generated content to yield more reservations – Volume 16, No. 4 (July, August)

The recent economic downturn has definitely had a substantial effect on how consumers shop and their booking habits, and hotels must be certain to ensure they are now doing everything possible to leverage business to their properties by staying astutely in touch with these habits. Specifically, user generated content (UGC) continues to grow in its prominence among travelers, and hoteliers must understand the basic essentials in dealing with UGC and use it to increase conversions from relevant booking channels. TRC electronic distribution expert Eric Barber explains the basis for, the impact of, and the potential benefits that hoteliers can derive from user-generated content from travel blogs, corporate travel websites, and online travel agencies.

Risk Management: Four challenges of managing risk during an economic downturn – Volume 16, No. 4 (July, August)

Consider this scenario: What happens when hotel occupancy, food & beverage, and events income is down? The hotel’s long-term and short-term economic future is unsure and, based upon the immediate economic outlook espoused by business naysayers and hotel veterans alike, it is time for drastic action. Most hotel managers will immediately think that with the reduction in activities and income, there can be no justification for maintaining current staffing and security levels. Hotel industry safety and security veteran Ray Ellis, Jr. presents four risk management challenges that hotel managers will need to address when contemplating these actions.

VOLUME 16: Issue 5 - 2008

From the Editor – Volume 16, No. 5 (September, October)

As many of our long-term readers know, my role as the executive editor of The Rooms Chronicle® is somewhat of a second full-time job for me. My primary occupation is as an educator. Though a former hotel general manager, I hold the rank of associate professor in the College of Hospitality and Tourism Management at Niagara University. It is here where I conduct research and outreach in hotel operations and educate future lodging managers. In my advocacy as a professor, I am pleased to share the expertise of three of Niagara’s graduates in this issue. Each has distinguished themselves commendably as a hotel manager in a short period of time and shares their wisdom with you here.

Front Office: Code of conduct agreement for youth sports teams staying in hotels – Volume 16, No. 5 (September, October)

Developed by a branded select-service hotel, this one page document explains the rules and regulations that will be enforced and outlines what is acceptable and inappropriate behavior from youth sport teams when staying at the hotel. This is an ideal document for all hotels to consider implementing when hosting youth groups.

Front Office: Hosting youth sports teams requires communication, planning and teamwork – Volume 16, No. 5 (September, October)

Almost every rooms division employee has noted the collective groan from their operational counterparts when the announcement is made that the sales department has booked a piece of weekend business comprised mostly of youth sports teams. Regardless of whether the sport is hockey, softball, volleyball, football, or dance – most rooms division employees will look forward with dread to incoming sports groups. They will be thinking of the disaster management required to successfully maintain a clean, quiet, and presentable hotel for all paying guests, as well as the time consuming cleanup phase after the groups depart. This article discusses how a hotel can best implement an appropriate course of action to maintain control over its property while hosting such youth groups while delivering memorable experience to all guests.

Front Office: Costs segregation for hotels and motels can save owners money – Volume 16, No. 5 (September, October)

Financial expert Israel Segal explains how hotels and motels can significantly reduce their taxes through a process called “cost segregation”. Cost segregation has become one of the most vital aspects of hotel/motel financing with tax consequences that can significantly add to a facility’s bottom line. According to federal tax laws, cost segregation consists of identifying personal property assets that are grouped with real property assets, then separating personal assets for tax reporting purposes so that depreciation time is dramatically truncated, thus reducing one’s tax obligations.

Front Office: Ensure that Fall springs you into 2009 success: Time to reflect and take action – Volume 16, No. 5 (September, October)

While 2008 is winding to an end quite quickly, it is the time of year that most hotels are creating their 2009 budgets and marketing/sales plans. Most properties conduct this exercise annually. This article is addressed to those hotels that currently do not have this process in place. If this is something that your property does not do annually, perhaps this is the year and now is the time to begin. In this article, revenue management expert Patti Halter provides an overview of how to get started with this process.

Housekeeping: Keeping a fresh look: Maintaining a hotel’s investment in its carpets  – Volume 16, No. 5 (September, October)

One of a hotel’s most important, yet overlooked, assets are the carpets running throughout it: in the guestrooms, hallways, lobby, and even the back of the house. A crisp, clean carpet creates a very positive and lasting impression among guests, patrons and even employees. The first impression of guests and patrons is crucial in conveying a sense of cleanliness and care. This article explains simple steps using standard floor care equipment that housekeepers may employ to maintain the hotel’s substantial investment in its carpets, while saving money in the long run.

Housekeeping: Hotel drinking glasses must be properly sanitized… or else! – Volume 16, No. 5 (September, October)

Now, in present day, a new guest concern is sweeping the industry – guestroom drinking glasses. This past year has revealed numerous exposés by investigative journalists about the glassware cleaning practices employed by room attendants. Hotels at all price points, brands, and service levels have been targeted. The results are quite disturbing. Through a review of recent undercover investigations and interviews, this article emphasizes the criticality of proper sanitation of guestroom drinking glasses and mugs when cleaning guestrooms.

Housekeeping: Does your hotel have housekeeping turnover issues? Refugees to the rescue  – Volume 16, No. 5 (September, October)

So where does a housekeeping manager go when the job market is just not producing the associates that the hotel is looking for? Undoubtedly, every housekeeping manager is looking for motivated, energetic, reliable, and efficient employees. But how do they find such a workforce that is willing to work for near-minimum wage? One answer that should be considered is to recognize the influx of refugees that are coming into the country. This article illustrates how a select-service hotel has been able to reduce its employee turnover and absenteeism while increasing productivity and employee loyalty by hiring refugees who need jobs and are motivated to succeed.

Housekeeping: Announcement about new housekeeping operations textbook  – Volume 16, No. 5 (September, October)

As the #1 journal for hotel rooms management®, The Rooms Chronicle® (TRC) is proud to announce its partnership with the American Hotel & Lodging Educational Institute with the release of the textbook, Managing Housekeeping Operations – Revised Third Edition. Co-authored by TRC’s founder Aleta A. Nitschke, CHA and TRC’s executive editor, Dr. William D. Frye, this textbook shows what it takes to direct day-to-day operations of the housekeeping department, from big-picture management issues to technical details for cleaning each area.

Human Resources: Hiring for fit: Eight suggestions for creating an effective interview and selection process  – Volume 16, No. 5 (September, October)

In the lodging industry, as in every industry experiencing tough competition and financial pressures, hiring the right people to join the team is one of the most important decisions managers make. The cost of a bad selection can be expensive. It has been calculated to be, at minimum, six months to a year of the annual compensation for an hourly employee, and two to three times the annual salary for a supervisor or manager. The most important element of the selection decision is the interview. Interviewing is not a simple process; it is a complex skill that most managers don’t use frequently. Here are eight suggestions for creating an effective interview and selection process.

Human Resources: Promissory estoppel: Be careful what you say in an employee handbook – Volume 16, No. 5 (September, October)

A court recently determined that an employer was obligated to allow an employee to take unpaid leave from his job through the federal Family and Medical Leave Act (FMLA) because of a policy contained in its employee handbook, even though the employee seeking leave was not otherwise an eligible employee for FMLA. In this article, hospitality labor law attorney Don Lee explains the importance of ensuring that hotel employee handbooks and policies are carefully drafted and accurately reflect the employer’s intent.

Risk Management: October is National Fire Protection Month: Is your hotel really fire-protection ready? – Volume 16, No. 5 (September, October)

In this article hotel risk management expert Ray Ellis, Jr. reminds hoteliers about their many responsibilities related to ensuring a hotel environment that is protected against an outbreak of fire. Recent statistics related to the number and severity of hotel fires are presented, as is a fire-protection readiness status report for all engineering and security managers to consider.

VOLUME 16: Issue 6 - 2008

From the Editor – Volume 16, No. 6 (November, December)

Change is in the air…It is hard to believe that the economy’s downfall happened so fast and furious and has permeated nearly every sector of the worldwide economy. And as we well know, the hospitality, travel and tourism industry is the world’s largest industry; third largest in the United States. Its success is directly tied to the spending of discretionary dollars by tourists and businesses and overall consumer confidence. This issue of TRC presents several strategies for hoteliers to consider while we all ride out this economic storm.

Front Office: Spend a night in the world’s most luxurious and expensive hotel suite – Volume 16, No. 6 (November, December)

Imagine floating in the air 700 feet above midtown Manhattan in New York City. Now imagine turning around in a full circle, taking in all the sights the Big Apple has to offer from Central Park, west to the Hudson River, down to the Empire State Building and around to the East River. Now picture being encased in a 4,300 square foot bubble surrounded by 25-foot high, floor to ceiling windows and a marble floor underfoot. This places one on the top floor of New York City’s tallest hotel, the five-star, five-diamond Four Seasons Hotel New York, and in the world’s most expensive suite, the Ty Warner Penthouse. Take a descriptive tour…

Front Office: Hoteliers must be cognizant  of the antitrust pitfalls they face everyday – Volume 16, No. 6 (November, December)

It has been the Federal law since 1890 that a rule of trade in the United States is that there should be free competition. To that end, the Sherman Antitrust Act and later, in 1914, the Clayton Antitrust Act were passed. Unfortunately, throughout the course and scope of employment, there are multiple opportunities for hotel managers to unknowingly violate antitrust laws, and the consequences can be enormous. This article discusses common antitrust pitfalls for hotel managers and how to avoid these situations.

Housekeeping: Hotels nationally donate gently used lines to homeless shelters – Volume 16, No. 6 (November, December)

Since its inception three years ago, Mission S.O.F.T. has operated within America’s hotel industry to bring a touch of home comforts to homeless families and individuals across the nation. This article explains how area hotels come together and donate gently used linens, including towels, sheets, blankets, pillows, pillowcases and comforters. In partnership with Proctor & Gamble, the hotels launder the linens in Tide® Downy® and Clorox®, and then donate them to homeless shelters.

Housekeeping: Natural ways to kill the lodging industry’s dirty little secrets – Volume 16, No. 6 (November, December)

Bedbugs are spreading like wildfire across the country, with hot spots in New York City and states such as Florida, Texas and Ohio. They are also living large in the Southwest. One motel owner in New Mexico is paying $63,000 to get rid of them. How bad is it in New York? Last year, there were almost 7,000 bedbug complaints. The number of complaints in 2005: 1,839. In 2006: 4,500. Of course those were not all hotel-related, but hotels and motels have most definitely been hit hard. Glenn Hasek, publisher of Green Lodging News, discusses several green techniques for hotels to eradicate and/or prevent bedbugs infestations.

Housekeeping: Mattress encasements protect guests and a hotel’s reputation – Volume 16, No. 6 (November, December)

Even if your hotel hasn’t had a reputation-damaging problem, the heightened awareness surrounding bed bugs has encouraged guests to inspect their rooms, particularly the mattress. When guests find staining or bedbugs, complaints ensue. The best way to keep hotel guests happy and prevent mattresses from ending up in the landfill is to fully encase them. Encasements increase the efficiency of the control effort by allowing for early bed bug detection. As this article discusses, controlling bed bugs – and preserving the mattress – can be easy by using an encasement that is proven to be completely bed-bug proof.

People Skills: Top ten things that hotel managers do to lose their best employees – Volume 16, No. 6 (November, December)

Yes, some of your most talented (and seemingly dedicated) hotel employees may leave you for financially greener pastures, but many others will stay longer and excel when they have a great boss and a superior working environment. Experience has shown us that there are some great managers out there who are able to successfully retain their most talented and mission-critical performers, and some that are not so great. Much can be learned (by what not to do) from these ineffective hotel managers. Here is a top ten list of practices that worst hotel managers believe or do to lose their best employees.

Risk Management: More money-saving risk management strategies for hotels in lean economic times – Volume 16, No. 6 (November, December)

During this current slowdown in the economy, and with the possibility that it will continue for at least another year, now is a great time for each hotel to review its risk management and loss prevention strategies. In this article hotel risk management expert Todd Seiders offers suggestions to help your hotel save money and minimize risk and loss.

Risk Management: Seven steps to reduce Workers Compensation costs and develop a winning  – Volume 16, No. 6 (November, December)

In this article, risk management expert Ray Ellis, Jr. reminds hoteliers that safety and related Workers Compensation insurance costs should not be overlooked, especially in faltering economy. To this end, a comprehensive safety strategy should be developed for each hotel. Seven actionable steps are presented for hotel managers to reduce Workers Compensation costs and increase workplace safety.

Risk Management: 2009 The Rooms Chronicle Calendar and Hotel Evacuation Procedures Checklist (Poster)  – Volume 16, No. 6 (November, December)

Perfect for every hotel department, this full-color, pull-out poster serves both as a “Year at a Glance” calendar for 2009 and a comprehensive checklist for hotel departments to implement in the event that evacuating the hotel becomes necessary.

Risk Management: Summary Analysis of the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act (Poster)  – Volume 16, No. 6 (November, December)

The Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act (Act) promotes the safe use of pools, spas and hot tubs by imposing mandatory federal requirements for suction entrapment avoidance and by establishing a voluntary grant program for states with laws that meet certain minimum requirements as outlined in the Act. Effective December 20, 2007, the Act is being administered by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission (CPSC). The U.S. government mandates that all hotels with pools, spas, and hot tubs are required to comply with this act by December 20, 2008.

Risk Management: Challenges of the recession force hotels to rethink their marketing strategies  – Volume 16, No. 6 (November, December)

Recently, the travel industry is being dealt yet another blow as consumers tighten their purse strings in uncertainty of the financial road ahead. Hoteliers, especially in leisure-driven destinations, are faced with the challenge of meeting revenue and budget goals, increasing occupancy levels, and trimming expenses, all while maintaining service levels and, in many cases, brand integrity. This comes amid competition for the discretionary dollar becoming fiercer than at any time in recent memory. This article discusses these challenges and offers short-term solutions for hotels to maintain competitiveness and profitability and drive up occupancy.