VOLUME 17: Issue 1 - 2009

Ask Gail: Can a hotel restrict outside food and beverages from hotel premises? – Volume 17, No. 1 (January, February)

In this article, Gail responds to a front office manager’s inquiry regarding whether a hotel can create a policy that restricts food or alcoholic beverages that aren’t purchased from the hotel from being brought onto hotel grounds and consumed in the privacy of guestrooms. Topics such as distribution of menus, granting access to delivery personnel, restricting alcoholic beverages, and enforceability of these policies are discussed.

Energy: Advanced fluorescent lighting zaps costs for hotel parking structures – Volume 17, No. 1 (January, February)

Hotels that own or operate parking garages and surface lots may be unwittingly burning holes in their pockets with “old tech” lighting systems. Parking lots and garages with HID-type (high-density discharge) lighting can save a remarkable 70 percent on energy usage and 50 percent on maintenance costs by converting existing fixtures to more efficient and brighter RGB fluorescent lighting systems. The energy saved will not only save considerable dollars but also reduce significant amounts of pollution associated with avoidable energy usage.

From the Editor – Volume 17, No. 1 (January, February)

At first glance, this issue of The Rooms Chronicle may seem a bit morose as articles discussing slip, trip & fall accidents, employee theft, dead guests, parking structure liability, and the need for increased security measures at some hotels are presented. While these are certainly not everyone’s favorite subjects, the knowledge derived from each are vitally important to maintaining a hotel’s reputation and, to some extent, its financial survivability in tough economic times. I am confident you will find value in this information that many hoteliers do not usually consider on a regular basis.

Front Office: How to properly respond to a guest death in your hotel – Volume 17, No. 1 (January, February)

At some point in time, every front desk, security, or housekeeping manager will have to deal with the issue of death in their hotel. It is not a pleasant scenario when a guest is found dead, but it is a situation that requires immediate action, tact, and most importantly, discretion. Knowing the appropriate steps to take ahead of time can make dealing with this situation easier and enable the hotel and its staff to return to some semblance of normalcy quicker. Aspects such as securing the scene, securing and returning a guest’s personal property, and responding to a guest suicide are addressed.

Front Office: Hotel guest safety is the “luxury” in service excellence – Volume 17, No. 1 (January, February)

Recent terrorist attacks in Mumbai and elsewhere have caused increased concern about hotel security and the well-being of its guests. Globally, many hotels recognized as being owned, franchised or operated by companies based in Western countries have been targets of attack by terrorists. Increased levels of security, without undermining guest privacy and guest safety, should therefore be a primary concern for companies operating and developing hotels. As this article explains, in today’s world, a safe and secure hotel environment is a highly sought after “luxury” by many guests.

Front Office: Using a hotel’s wireless connection as a marketing tool to accommodate guests – Volume 17, No. 1 (January, February)

Every time a guest connects and logs on to the WiFi system during a stay at any hotel, a marketing opportunity is born where guests can be directed to the hotel’s own information portal. Much like the hotel’s website and homepage is focused on attracting potential guests to the hotel, the information portal would be a marketing tool designed to cater to those who are already staying at the facility and are looking to enhance their experience. Everything from ordering room service, placing a wake-up call, ordering theater tickets, and taking a guest survey can be accomplished through the portal.

Housekeeping: Saving millions in housekeeping costs – Volume 17, No. 1 (January, February)

This article discusses Standard Textile’s innovative OneSTEP linen use program that streamlines housekeeper efficiency, enabling housekeepers to save an average of three minutes in combined laundry processing and housekeeping bed make-up time per room. Such a program saved LaQuinta Inn and Suites almost $5 million in labor efficiency per year. This program could save a single 500-room hotel over $450,000 per year.

Risk Management: The Law of the hotel parking lot – Volume 17, No. 1 (January, February)

Hotel parking can take many forms, from open, unmarked and unpaved lots ten blocks away, to an adjacent paved parking lot that can accommodate buses and tractor-trailers to a multi-story parking garage attached to the hotel. In some cases the guest parks their own car and in others the hotel provides valet service. Depending upon any and all of these variables as well as the legal jurisdiction in which the property is located, the liability of the hotel for the guest’s vehicle may be vastly different. This article explains the three legal theories that may apply when trying to understand the law of the parking lot and the liability a hotel may incur for damage to or the theft of a guest’s vehicle.

Risk Management: Ten slip, trip and fall prevention considerations for hotel managers – Volume 17, No. 1 (January, February)

In the hospitality industry injuries from slipping, tripping and/or falling are historically one of the top two types of employee injuries. These incidents may result in serious injury to the employee and can be very expensive to the employer. These injuries are frequently preventable if good loss prevention practices are followed. This article addresses some of the most common contributing factors that may lead to an employee sustaining an injury from a slip, trip or fall and explains what hoteliers can do to minimize such risks.

Risk Management: An economic downturn often leads to instances of employee theft – Volume 17, No. 1 (January, February)

Unfortunately, an economic downturn usually results in increased instances of criminal activity in society. And hotels are certainly not immune from such escalation; rather, they become increased targets. Dishonest employees are just one category of individuals that may pose a threat to a hotel’s assets. This article discusses common internal theft tactics employed by dishonest hotel employees and provides actionable steps for hoteliers to combat such theft.

VOLUME 17: Issue 2 - 2009

From the Editor – Volume 17, No. 2 (March, April)

Generally, it has been our policy at The Rooms Chronicle to solely focus on operational issues and concerns that affect hoteliers at the property-level. We strive to remain neutral on political matters and really only present those concerns if they will adversely or positively impact individual hotels and owners and not just the collective lodging industry. But in this issue we must speak up about the devastating impact that the Employee Free Choice Act will have upon the lodging industry. Plain and simple, this is BAD LEGISLATION. I encourage every hotelier to realize the EFCA for what it is: An attempt to benefit unions and unionized workers that will take most control away from those who invest, own, and manage hotels. This will assuredly hurt the lodging industry and all involved for the long-term if we allow it to pass.

Front Office: Hoteliers can derive revenue from menu books for guests seeking F&B choices – Volume 17, No. 2 (March, April)

Maintaining food & beverage service in a hotel is an expensive proposition. The sad truth is that many hotels do not break even and most ultimately end up subsidizing the F&B division’s expenses. Resultantly, many hotels have chosen to cut back but not eliminate various F&B services. Realizing that many guests will choose not to patronize these limited F&B offerings, many full-service and select-service hotels have prepared and placed in their lobby menu books of various restaurants in the hotel’s geographic area. The article discusses how hoteliers can generate revenue by placing these in their lobby.

Housekeeping: Taking the confusion out of when and how to rotate hotel mattresses – Volume 17, No. 2 (March, April)

Hotels make substantial investments in their guestroom bedding and linens. Since most hotels only renovate their guestroom an average of once every five years, it is imperative that the housekeeping manager implement a plan to rotate and flip guestroom mattresses in order to preserve their use life until the guestroom will next be refurbished. In this article, veteran Executive Housekeeper Paul Gingras shows and explains how and why to properly rotate guestroom mattresses.

Human Resources: The pro-labor legislation of EFCA will have a drastic impact on hoteliers – Volume 17, No. 2 (March, April)

Introduced in the U.S. House of Representatives the second week of March, the egregiously misnamed Employee Free Choice Act (EFCA) could result in a sweeping pro-union overhaul of federal labor law. As we first warned hoteliers over two years ago in a TRC article on this very topic, there is a significant chance that EFCA will become law in the near future, given the Democratic majorities in both congressional houses and that President Obama is a public supporter of EFCA. This article provides a brief overview of the EFCA and offers suggestions for helping hoteliers maintain their union-free status in a post-EFCA world.

Risk Management: Understanding a hotel’s liability for the contents of a guest’s vehicle – Volume 17, No. 2 (March, April)

Who is responsible for the contents of a guest vehicle parked on hotel premises? This article discusses the legal implications and potential hotel liability for such situations, with a focus on the legal concepts of express notice and foreseeability. Suggestions for limiting liability are included.

Risk Management: Bloodborne pathogens: Review your hotel’s program for compliance – Volume 17, No. 2 (March, April)

Hotel Management is charged with the responsibility to determine those work assignments where an employee might encounter bloodborne pathogens. An exposure incident may result from non-contact skin, eye, mucous membrane or contact with blood or other potentially infectious material. OSHA establishes potentially infectious materials to include blood and human body fluids that have been determined by the Center for Disease Control to be substances to be handled with “universal precautions.” In this article lodging risk management expert Ray Ellis, Jr. focuses on the exposure determination and methods of compliance aspects of OSHA 29 Code of Federal regulations, Section 1910.1030 pertaining to bloodborne pathogens.

Risk Management: Spring is the time to revisit your hotel’s emergency plan and safety program – Volume 17, No. 2 (March, April)

Spring frequently brings along turbulent weather with cold fronts and warm fronts colliding, producing thunderstorms, with heavy rain, lightning, winds and occasional tornadoes. Natural emergencies, although infrequent, do happen and the hotel’s Emergency Response Team should be prepared for them. Spring is the logical time to dust off the hotel’s emergency management plan and review the safety program to ensure they are up to date and current for potential emergency situations and to foster a safe work environment.

Risk Management: Trends in hospitality loss control – Volume 17, No. 2 (March, April)

2009 is being heralded as an extremely difficult year for the hospitality industry with weakening occupancy figures and softening room rates. Added to this unsettling mix are a couple of rather adverse trends that are surfacing in the area of loss control. Risk management expert Jim Stover warns hoteliers about the potential for disgruntled employees and toxic guests and what steps to take to minimize the potential for tragedies occurring.

Sales & Marketing: New hotel trends: Shorter booking periods, mini-vacations, marketing partnerships, and greater reliance on leisure guests – Volume 17, No. 2 (March, April)

To suggest that the ailing economy has forced significant change in the way the hospitality and tourism industry conducts business may seem an obvious statement. Hotels, airlines, attractions and even restaurants are struggling to anticipate consumer needs while attempting to forecast and maintain profits amid a major market slowdown. The current recession has forced hotel managers to rethink their marketing strategies and implement new tactics in order to generate sufficient revenue to weather the current economic crisis. This article discusses various new purchase and marketing trends that hotel managers must consider.

VOLUME 17: Issue 3 - 2009

Ask Gail: Dealing with unsightly black spots and streaks on bathroom mirrors – Volume 17, No. 3 (May, June)

In this article, Gail responds to a hotel maintenance manager who asks the cause of and remedy for black spots and streaks that appear in the hotel’s guest bathroom mirrors.

From the Editor – Volume 17, No. 3 (May, June)

This issue of The Rooms Chronicle® brings various topics to our readers. Most of the articles are centered on the theme of “preserving the investment” during these tough economic times; not just ownership’s investment in the physical property but also the hotel’s investment in its human capital, both employees and guests. As part of this theme, please be sure to visit Peter Ricci’s article about cutting back on guest amenities. I am positive that his article and those from our other contributing authors will give you much to consider.

Front Office: Exercising judgement at the front desk – Sometimes you just HAVE to say “NO” – Volume 17, No. 3 (May, June)

As illustrated through a prostitution sting anecdote, risk management expert Todd Seiders explains that sometimes it is necessary to refuse service at the front desk in order to protect the hotel and its guests or to avoid any appearance of ambiguity or misinterpretation by potential guests.

Guest Services: Pay to play: Beware that the cost of music for hotels is not necessarily free – Volume 17, No. 3 (May, June)

This article discusses the various legal and fiduciary implications associated with the transmission, retransmission, or performance of music for hotels offered via bands, DJs, radio, or from prerecorded music. Aspects such as copyrights, royalties, licensing agreements, exemptions, cover charges and staying in legal compliance are discussed.

Guest Services: Thinking about cutting back here and there? REMEMBER ME… I’m the Guest! – Volume 17, No. 3 (May, June)

In an April 2009 article that appeared in Hotel & Motel Management, the authors state that “hotels are not piling on excesses, but are providing a good value and responding to the economy with reasonableness and practicality.” Nonetheless, with the deepening recession, global travel spending cuts, and austerity measures in place at hotels across the country, one cannot help but notice the changes in day-to-day business procedures including staffing cutbacks, diminished amenity offerings, and substitution of less expensive and perhaps lesser quality breakfast items. Veteran hotelier Peter Ricci reminds hotel managers to consider the long-term impact of such cost-saving measures before implementing these short term tactics.

Housekeeping: New housekeeping tool helps minimize strain and repetitive injury to room attendants – Volume 17, No. 3 (May, June)

It is no secret that room attendants are prone to strains and repetitive motion injuries. Up to 18 times a day a room attendant will perform over 100 cleaning tasks before moving on to the next guestroom and repeating the cleaning cycle. Hotel managers should be extremely concerned about the impact these standardized cleaning procedures have on its room attendants. As many hotels have upgraded their bedding packages with thicker mattresses and plusher bed in an attempt to offer more luxurious sleep accommodations, room attendants are forced to lift bulkier and heavier mattresses. This article presents an innovative tool housekeepers can use to help reduce the fatigue and injuries associated with changing hotel bed linens.

Human Resources: New development in pregnancy discrimination law is good news for hoteliers – Volume 17, No. 3 (May, June)

Labor law experts Jaclyn West and Don Lee discuss a recent Supreme Court ruling regarding employee benefits and the Pregnancy Discrimination Act that benefits hotels who employed existing personnel prior to 1979.

Reservations: Four-step formula for converting calls and increasing rooms reservations – Volume 17, No. 3 (May, June)

Front desk agents and reservationists face a hugely important task every time they answer a phone to take a reservation; they are responsible for turning inquiries into a sale. Although the assignment sounds simple enough, there is an innumerable amount of potential revenue lost each time the sale is not executed correctly. There are many steps front desk agents and reservationists can follow when taking a phone call to effectively build a competitive edge and increase revenue for their property. But four steps are the most critical to achieving success. This article presents a four-step process that will increase call conversions, profits, and guest service.

Risk Management: Develop an operations strategy to deal with the hotel’s next disaster – Volume 17, No. 3 (May, June)

Veteran hospitality risk management expert Ray Ellis, Jr. reminds hotel managers that nearly every possible natural disaster that can wreak havoc on a hotel can be planned for in advance. Those hotel managers that fail to develop potential emergency and contingency plans, who fail to stockpile needed supplies, and equally significant, who fail to train their staff members on appropriate response procedures to emergencies, have no real valid defense. Most importantly, the safety and welfare of the guests and employees of the hotel are at stake, not to mention ownerships’ investment and assets, and the future viability of the hotel and the employability of its staff.

Sales & Marketing: Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, YouTube: Social media marketing for your hotel – Volume 17, No. 3 (May, June)

Social media marketing has become a unique and creative way to advertise and network with other businesses. With all the different websites that are available, it is hard not to get lost on the World Wide Web. Given that some of these social media networks overlap in membership and content, it can be difficult to determine which ones have the potential to actually increase a hotel’s business and which ones are just wastes of time. This article presents a primer about the most utilized social media sites and their applications for hotel marketing.

VOLUME 17: Issue 4 - 2009

From the Editor – Volume 17, No. 4 (July, August)

It is that time of year, what I refer to as the “silly season” for hotels. Properties are starting to wind down towards the end of what is usually a busy Summer travel season and assess their profit potential that will need to carry them through the leaner seasons of Fall and Winter. It is also the time where we start to hear legendary stories of transgressions that have been committed against hotel properties; everything from families that have damaged guestrooms to outright theft of hotel property by guests and even employees during these tough economic times. In this issue of The Rooms Chronicle® we share some of these outrageous stories.

Front Office: Recent hotel pranks emphasize the need for caution and … common sense – Volume 17, No. 4 (July, August)

Recently, hotel guests and employees alike throughout the United States have been conned by telephone callers to engage in dangerous and destructive activities that have resulted in pranks that have caused thousands of dollars in property damage and wracked nerves. This article provides an overview of various hotel pranks and the means by which callers engage their unwitting victims, as well as several recommendations for hoteliers to avoid falling prey to these hoaxes.

Front Office: Security responses for hoteliers to combat internal fraud and credit card theft – Volume 17, No. 4 (July, August)

Admittedly, these are incredibly trying times for the hospitality industry with decreasing occupancy and steeply declining RevPAR levels. With continuing industry layoffs, and the threat of more to come, most lodging industry employees are apprehensive and concerned about their job security. Couple this with personal financial issues such as high credit card balances, resetting mortgage rates, perhaps health issues, and it is no small wonder that hotels are seeing the development of numerous fraud triangles. In this article, hospitality risk management expert Jim Stover shares recent hotel fraud and embezzlement schemes that have been uncovered, and presents a list of steps to implement in order to prevent internal credit card fraud.

Housekeeping: Preventing dermatitis in housekeeping and engineering personnel – Volume 17, No. 4 (July, August)

Hotel employees most likely to be affected by skin ailments include housekeeping and engineering personnel as well as stewarding and culinary employees. Diseases of the skin are the most common of all occupational diseases and should be taken seriously. Skin diseases are most often referred to as dermatitis, which is an inflammation of the skin. The Bureau of Labor statistics estimates that about 40% of occupational diseases are dermatitis related. This is by far the leading type of occupation illnesses reported. In this article, loss prevention consultant Jesse Denton explains how hoteliers can minimize lost work time and injury claims related to dermatitis.

Housekeeping: Dermatitis (Skin Disorders Quiz) – Volume 17, No. 4 (July, August)

This insert is a ten question quiz designed to accompany Jesse Denton’s article “Preventing dermatitis in housekeeping and engineering personnel”. The quiz should be administered to employees after training them about the effects and dermatitis and how to prevent it.

Housekeeping: Hotels can learn many lessons from reports of towel and amenity theft – Volume 17, No. 4 (July, August)

Ever wonder why the replacement expense for housekeeping linens and amenities are so high? Perhaps it is a lack of controls and inventory safeguards that contributes to exorbitant shrinkage of these items. After payroll, typically the highest departmental expense for any housekeeping director is replacement linens and consumable guestroom amenities such as coffee, soap, shampoo, conditioner, body lotion, and even toilet paper. A typical 250 room full-service hotel may have as much as half million dollars tied up in its housekeeping supplies. Realizing that theft of housekeeping supplies is costly and detrimental to the department’s bottom line, here are some suggestions about what housekeeping managers can do to minimize these losses.

Human Resources: I-9 Enforcement and compliance in the Obama Era for hoteliers – Volume 17, No. 4 (July, August)

On July 1, 2009, the U.s. Immigration and Customs Enforcement announced that it is launching a stepped-up I-9 audit initiative and issued “Notices of Inspection” to 652 businesses nationwide that same day. This number is substantially greater than the total number of NOIs that were issued throughout the entire last fiscal year, which was 149. I-9 audits are therefore one of the key pieces in the federal government’s strategy of enforcing immigration laws. Since the hospitality industry is under particularly heavy government scrutiny, hoteliers are well-served to ensure that they conduct all I-9 obligations in accordance with the law. Labor law experts Geetha Nadiminti and Don Lee present several best practices for hoteliers to develop the strongest I-9 program to withstand a government audit, and to defend against penalties if it is subsequently necessary.

Risk Management: There are just some liabilities that cannot be delegated to contractors – Volume 17, No. 4 (July, August)

In the hospitality industry, independent contractors are often used for such services as security, parking, catering and food service and specialized maintenance and cleaning projects. When an independent contractor is engaged, any liability that may occur when performing the contracted service is generally the responsibility of the contractor that performs the service and not that of the property owner or hotel Management. In the case of many hospitality facilities, especially hotels, there are certain risks that cannot be transferred. These are referred to as “non-delegable duties”. This means that no matter who performs the function, the hotel remains responsible for any damage that may result. In this article, attorney Michael Gentile explains how hotel Management can delegate responsibility for performing certain tasks and maintenance, but they can never relieve themselves from ultimate responsibility regarding the actions/inactions of the contractors or the quality of their workmanship.

Risk Management: Recent media “stings” of hotels highlight the constant need for security training – Volume 17, No. 4 (July, August)

“Media stings” have frequently been a motivator for hotels to clean up their security procedures. Invariably, media outlets have sought to test the security procedures of hotels and the response of its employees, all in the name of open disclosure, viewer education, and investigative journalism. Their plan of attack is simple – create situations that test the hotel’s security protocol, keep the hidden camera rolling, and see what happens. These scenarios almost always involve interactions with hotel employees to “see how they will respond” when confronted with a security-related dilemmas. Unfortunately, hotel security breaches that have made recent headlines suggest that the lodging industry still has far to go to in this realm. Risk management expert Ray Ellis reminds hoteliers about several security protocols designed to increase safety at your hotel and avoid falling prey to a media sting.

Sales & Marketing: Onsite targeting boosts bookings with relevant, targeted programs – Volume 17, No. 4 (July, August)

The World Wide Web has had a dramatic impact on the hospitality industry. Massive call centers necessary to absorb the volume of over-the-phone room bookings have been replaced by booking engine software that is more convenient and efficient for consumers and marketers alike. As the industry has evolved in its technological sophistication, the consumer has evolved at an even more rapid pace, rendering the once advanced booking engine technology less effective and more difficult to scale to changing consumer buying habits. A new technology is needed to fill the cracks that are ever-so-slowly starting to appear in the booking engine’s armor. Fortunately, the necessary technology exists in the form of onsite targeting – the missing piece of a complete direct digital marketing strategy. Onsite targeting, a key component of any direct digital marketing strategy, makes the online booking process more relevant for the guest and more profitable for the marketer.

VOLUME 17: Issue 5 - 2009

Ask Gail: How to disengage guestroom security door latches from the outside – Volume 17, No. 5 (September, October)

A reader writes to Gail and inquires how hotels may unlock guestroom security door latches from the outside without damaging the door for situations where guests expire in their sleep or are unable to come to the door. A patented tool designed to accomplish this task is shared.

From the Editor – Volume 17, No. 5 (September, October)

As in previous years, staff members of The Rooms Chronicle® will be attending the International Hotel, Motel & Restaurant Show in New York City this November. As per part of our annual pilgrimage to the Hotel Show we will be searching for new technologies, unique tools, and anything else that we can share with our readers to assist in their daily operation of their hotels. I would also like to invite you to attend our reception on Sunday, November 8th. In conjunction with Niagara University, we will be hosting the sixth annual TRC reception at the Conrad Suite of the Waldorf=Astoria hotel in New York City from 6-8pm. All are invited. I hope that you can join us.

Guest Services: Unique guest services – or – Did that fish really press the elevator call button? – Volume 17, No. 5 (September, October)

Throughout the past few decades, the growth in the number of market segments identified by hoteliers as economically feasible to serve in a differentiated fashion has grown at a tremendous rate. This has led to the development of many hospitality products that closely match the customers’ specific needs; but at times it can also be viewed as presenting a rather confusing number of product offerings from which the consumer must choose. So how do hoteliers find the “little cracks” in the market segments where an eclectic mix of unique value-added activities can pay large dividends in capturing customers who appreciate uniqueness? This article presents an overview of how one upscale hotel chain has worked hard at conceptualizing and implementing some guest service ideas that appear to go against the grain of what many in the lodging industry identify as standard amenities in the near-luxury brand.

Guest Services: Eight steps to prevent undercover reporters seeking to violate guests’ policy – Volume 17, No. 5 (September, October)

As a result of the unauthorized release on the Internet of videos taken of ESPN reporter Erin Andrews reportedly via a hotel peephole and the suspect’s demonstrated pattern of stalking Ms. Andrews, several news media organizations are calling or visiting hotels and asking for specific rooms, next to specific registered guests, to see what security measures are in place at the hotel. Commonly referred to as “Gotcha Journalism,” various media outlets have resorted to these stings to entrap hoteliers doing something wrong and to boost their viewership ratings. So, what can and should hotels do to avoid falling prey to investigative reporters, and more importantly, ensure the safety and privacy of their guests? This article presents eight steps to get started.

Guest Services: Eight guest service basics that every hotel employee must master – Volume 17, No. 5 (September, October)

There is nothing that can ruin a guest’s experience while staying at a hotel quicker than poor guest service. While every property may train their employees differently, there are several guest service basics that every employee should be taught and, in turn, master. Although it is important that all employees learn and embrace these concepts, front-line employees need to be even more aware of the proper way to interact with guests. The eight tips presented in this article will put any employee on the fast track to delivering better guest satisfaction.

Housekeeping: Twelve housekeeping sins that should never be committed by room attendants – Volume 17, No. 5 (September, October)

Throughout the course of my travels I am constantly shocked to find room attendants committing the same egregious errors. It could be a different day, in a different hotel, in a different city, yet it seems that the same handful of transgressions is committed by most room attendants at whatever hotel I might be temporarily residing, regardless of geographic location, service level, or room rate paid. Violating any or all of these basic housekeeping tenets will likely increase maintenance and repair costs to furniture and fixtures, pose a health and safety danger to the room attendant or guest, or, create a disturbance upon the guest. Presented here is a list of twelve basic room cleaning errors that every room attendant must avoid committing at all costs.

Human Resources: Straight talk about the swine flu and questions from your employees – Volume 17, No. 5 (September, October)

With everyone talking about, distressed over, and virtually absorbed with the fear of a Swine Flu (H1N1 virus) pandemic as being imminent, undoubtedly, Human Resources personnel and most hotel managers are facing tough questions from their employees. Some of these questions likely include whether the employer will pay for the Swine Flu vaccination when it becomes available? If an employee gets the Swine Flu, can they claim they got it while they were at work? And can an employee claim a Workers’ Compensation injury related to the Swine Flu?

Human Resources: Poster: “Take 3” actions to fight the flu – Volume 17, No. 5 (September, October)

Prepared by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) this 11” x 17” color poster reminds employees how they can help fight the spread of the seasonal flue and H1N1 Virus. The poster is ideal for displaying in employee break areas and bulletin boards.

Human Resources: Alternative dispute resolution save hoteliers time, money and frustration – Volume 17, No. 5 (September, October)

What is alternative dispute resolution? More importantly, why should hoteliers care about and make use of alternative dispute resolution? At its most basic, alternative dispute resolution is exactly what it seems: a way to resolve disputes without recourse to the courts. Alternative dispute resolution, or “ADR,” is generally less expensive, faster and simpler than traditional litigation, and in the fast-paced hotel world it can often be the best option for solving a problem in a fair but convenient forum.

Risk Management: Managing fire hazards associated with electricity, smoking and on-premise laundries – Volume 17, No. 5 (September, October)

There are many areas in hotels that pose fire hazards. Presenting a comprehensive overview that addresses each potential hazard could fill volumes of pages, as evidenced by the extensive consensus codes and standards developed and published by the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA), which are intended to minimize the possibility and effects of fire. Virtually every building, process, service, design, and installation in society today is affected by these NFPA documents. For this article, risk management expert has chosen to briefly discuss three areas that hoteliers can significantly minimize the threat of fire within their hotel by implementing some simple steps pertaining to electricity, smokers, and on-premise laundry hazards.

Risk Management: The Erin Andrews case: A chance for hoteliers to review and improve – Volume 17, No. 5 (September, October)

By now the facts surrounding the stalking of ESPN sideline reporter Erin Andrews are no doubt known to just about everyone in the hotel industry. This past summer naked videos of Andrews in her hotel room were circulated on the Internet. As a result of the facts in this complaint, the suspect in the case will undoubtedly face significant criminal charges. However, these facts also reveal some hotel management procedures that need to be reviewed and revised so that situations like this do not recur, subjecting hotels to civil liability from their guests who become victims of such criminal behavior on their property. The existence of this case provides a good reminder for hoteliers to review and update their hotel’s policies related to guest privacy.

Risk Management: Time to review the Hotel and Motel Fire Safety Act and fire protections basics – Volume 17, No. 5 (September, October)

Fire protection is a subject that must be a management tool in the operation of all lodging establishments, and is worthy of an annual review. October is fire safety month for many organizations. In this article, hotel risk management expert Ray Ellis explains the intent of the Hotel and Motel Fire Safety Act of 1990 and reminds readers to prepare emergency evacuation plans, update their fire standard operating procedures, and inspect and maintain their property’s fire extinguishers.

VOLUME 17: Issue 6 - 2009

Ask Gail: How to deter the theft of flat panel televisions from hotel premises – Volume 17, No. 6 (November, December)

A reader writes to Gail and inquires how to minimize the theft of expensive flat panel televisions from guestrooms and public areas his hotel. TRC risk management contributing author Todd Seiders provides four simple steps that hotels can implement to safeguard flat panel TVs.

From the Editor – Volume 17, No. 6 (November, December)

We have nearly made it through 2009, a year wrought with depressed profits, reduced occupancies, and general uncertainty for most in the lodging industry. With this in mind, this year-end issue of The Rooms Chronicle is centered on the theme of persevering under adversity and recognizing the need to change with the new challenges and opportunities that are currently prevalent. Maintaining rate integrity, finding untapped and expanding into underserved market segments, and employing new incentives that can drive up group business are just a few foci of the articles presented here for your review.

Front Office: A time for GMs to keep the glass half full and explore new revenue services – Volume 17, No. 6 (November, December)

By examining the trends over recent decades, one can see ascertain that the hospitality industry, and more specifically, tourist arrivals, are on the upswing. Even with the highs and lows and peaks and valleys of the always-returning economic cycles, the hospitality business always survives and thrives in the long run. As veteran hotelier Peter Ricci suggests in this article, general managers should focus on three specific areas to keep the “glass is half full” environment and culture prevalent within their own hotel operations. They will immediately see a change in attitude and morale among their staff members and, ultimately, they will see a higher return to business levels.

Front Office: Compromising rate integrity in a recession carries both short and long-term risks – Volume 17, No. 6 (November, December)

In a recession as monumental as this one, companies are doing anything they can to survive. In this effort to keep occupancies high and employees working, many hotels have begun to jeopardize room rate integrity. In order for hotels across the United States to continually keep guests occupying rooms, many properties are lowering their room rates. But each property is approaching this rate reduction strategy in a different way. This article presents the short-term and long-term risks that hotels face when they choose to compromise room rate integrity in a quest to maintain or increase occupancy levels.

Guest Services: Little failures can lead to loss of guest loyalty: Are you watching the details? – Volume 17, No. 6 (November, December)

As everyone deals with this weak economy and the consequential loss of customers, hotel managers need to be sure that they are not overlooking the small things that add up for the hotel’s remaining customers, especially if the hotel wants to maintain their loyalty. While a hotel may not have money today for big changes at its property, operationally it can continue to tweak those aspects that are irritants to existing customers. This article shares a letter written to a hotel general manager about the “small thing” that are often overlooked by employees, but not by guests.

Human Resources: Changes to labor and employment laws and how they affect hoteliers – Volume 17, No. 6 (November, December)

With a new administration in the White House and a new justice on the Supreme Court, Washington, D.C. has been working overtime for the past year – and many things have changed as a result. And as 2009 gives way to 2010, we can expect even more tinkering with the employment laws, from Congress and the courts. Employment law experts Jaclyn West and Don Law provide a legal update on employment laws that have passed in 2009 or are slated for possible implementation in 2010 and how they will affect hotels.

Risk Management: The start of the year is time to complete a thorough walk-through inspection – Volume 17, No. 6 (November, December)

Conducting walk-through inspections of the entire lodging property is a good operational practice. This procedure permits “fresh eyes” to review both guest-contact and support areas as well as mechanical and life-safety systems by individuals that do not pass through these areas on a daily basis. It also holds these respective departments accountable to the collective management team of the hotel. Peer review is always a good means to motivate higher performance. While walk-through inspections can be conducted anytime, and certainly on a more frequent interval than annually, the typical slower season associated with the start of the new calendar year is an ideal time to be thorough and initiate new positive practices. This article provides of an overview of the key aspects of a walk-through inspection in eight key areas of a hotel.

Risk Management: 2010 The Rooms Chronicle Calendar and Hotel Evacuation Procedures Checklist – Volume 17, 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 2010 and a comprehensive checklist for hotel departments to implement in the event that evacuating the hotel becomes necessary.

Risk Management: Is your hotel ready for winter? Take the time now to check your preparedness – Volume 17, No. 6 (November, December)

If your hotel is located in an area that can expect snow or ice during the winter months now is the time to stock up on the items the hotel will need to combat weather conditions and maintain a safe environment for guests and staff. This article reminds hoteliers about the various supplies that should be inventoried and the need to review snow and ice treatment procedures. Also included is a sample snow and ice treatment log.

Sales & Marketing: Suggestions for sales managers to cope with restricted travel budgets of meetings planners – Volume 17, No. 6 (November, December)

One of the many unfortunate effects of the economic downturn has been a decrease in the number of dollars available for corporations to hold meetings and associations to host conventions. And with many companies’ year-over-year sales figures being down significantly, several incentive trips have also been tabled. Add to that the perception that corporate meetings have been labeled as “frivolous” by various media and political outlets and the situation has become increasingly dire. Sales manager Dustin Personius suggests steps and incentives sales departments can undertake to more effectively market to meeting planners who have more restricted group travel budgets than in previous years.

Sales & Marketing: Market Intelligence for 2010: Ringing in the New Year for hoteliers – Volume 17, No. 6 (November, December)

Without question, 2009 has been a year of considerable challenge for practically every travel service provider. So, as the year comes to a close, our thoughts turn to the year ahead with the hope that market conditions will improve. And for some in the hotel industry, just “stabilize” would come as welcomed relief. In this article travel marketing expert Peter Yesawich presents the results of Ypartnership’s most recent travelhorizonsTM survey which suggests that hoteliers are not out of the woods yet. And, not surprisingly, value will be in vogue once again.