VOLUME 18: Issue 1 - 2010

Ask Gail: Questions about the value of obtaining the CHA certification – Volume 18, No. 1 (January, February)

In this Ask Gail column, a reader inquires about the value and benefits of the Certified Hospitality Administrator certification. The CHA designation is a highly respected globally recognized professional credential that validates a manager’s advanced knowledge in the hospitality industry. It is an honor awarded to lodging professionals whose leadership and managerial abilities are deemed exemplary.

From the Editor – Volume 18, No. 1 (January, February)

I would like to call your attention to two specific offerings in this issue of The Rooms Chronicle®. First, TRCSM has negotiated with the nationally recognized law firm of Ford & Harrison LLP to make available to our subscribers a dynamic offer for prepaid legal advice for employment-related questions and concerns. Please see the enclosed brochure for details and to take advantage of this offer. Also, I would like to welcome Dr. Brian Miller as a new regular contributing author. Brian will sharing his expertise on sustainability issues in each issue with advice on how hoteliers can help “green” their hotels, reduce their environmental footprint, and help hotel operators to lower resource usage and reduce costs. Just two more examples of how TRCSM benefits its readers.

Front Desk: Interdepartmental communication can make or break a guest’s stay – Volume 18, No. 1 (January, February)

The success of a guest’s stay at a hotel hinges on the communication of the hotel departments and its staff members. From the second that the guest makes his or her reservation to the minute they check out, the Front Office, Housekeeping, and Engineering departments must be in constant communication in order to ensure the guest’s stay goes smoothly. The object for most hotels is not to show the guest how much effort and work goes into making sure his or her stay goes off without a hitch; rather, the intended objective is for it to appear to the guest as if the delivery of service is seamless, easy, natural and instantaneous. This article discusses how hotels can deliver service in what appears to be an effortless manner to guests.

Guest Services: The proper way for a bellperson to assist an arriving guest – Volume 18, No. 1 (January, February)

The first person a guest sees is often the bellperson. The role of a bellperson in a hotel or resort varies from property to property. Yet, research has consistently shown that the interactions with staff during the first 10-15 minutes after arrival is the most critical determinant of whether a guest will depart after a hotel stay as satisfied. Hence, the interactions with bell staff are among the most decisive during the stay. In this article, an experience bellperson shares the proper procedures for greeting and rooming an arriving guest.

Housekeeping: A clean back-of-the-house is just as, if not more important, as clean guest areas – Volume 18, No. 1 (January, February)

Generally, the back-of-the-house (BOH) areas of a hotel are only seen by employees and vendors, rarely, if ever, by guests. Unfortunately, many hoteliers are under the misperception that the order and cleanliness of the support areas is not as important as the guest contact areas. The BOH areas are indeed as equally important as the front areas. In this article housekeeping manager Elizabeth Kozlowski presents those key back areas that can significantly impact employee morale and behavior if not maintained to the same standard as guest contact areas.

Human Resources: Determining what is recordable on OSHA’s form 300A – Volume 18, No. 1 (January, February)

All hotels are required to post OSHA’s Form 300A, Summary of Work-Related Injuries and Illnesses from February 1 to April 30 for the previous year. OSHA has recently placed a high priority on recordkeeping and will likely continue this initiative. Citations have been issued for errors as simple as mathematical mistakes. However, not all employee injuries are OSHA recordable. This article and the accompanying inserts discusses the requirements for what constitutes a recordable injury/illness.

Human Resources: OSHA Recordable Decision Tree (insert) – Volume 18, No. 1 (January, February)

This insert accompanies the “Determining what is recordable on OSHA’s Form 300A” article. The decision tree, created by OSHA, is a simple but practical tool for managers to determine whether an employee’s illness/injury is considered by OSHA as recordable work-related event and must be documented on the OSHA 300 form and OSHA 300A log.

Human Resources: OSHA Recordable Decision Tree (insert) – Volume 18, No. 1 (January, February)

This insert accompanies the “Determining what is recordable on OSHA’s Form 300A” article. The decision tree, created by OSHA, is a simple but practical tool for managers to determine whether an employee’s illness/injury is considered by OSHA as recordable work-related event and must be documented on the OSHA 300 form and OSHA 300A log.

Human Resources: OSHA 300A Form with Worksheet (insert) – Volume 18, No. 1 (January, February)

This insert accompanies the “Determining what is recordable on OSHA’s Form 300A” article. The OSHA 300A form is the summary of work-related injuries and illnesses by each employer. By law, this form must be posted from February 1 to April 30 for the previous year.

Human Resources: Challenging times for hoteliers neccessitate access to timely legal advice – Volume 18, No. 1 (January, February)

Year 2009 ushered in a host of new employment laws with more on tap for 2010. Hoteliers can expect new and more onerous laws on the books in the future, stepped-up enforcement of new and existing laws as governments attempt to balance their out of whack budgets, and most certainly, unhappy employees in an underperforming economy. These are challenging times for hoteliers to make employment decisions. But how is a hotel manager who is focused daily on ensuring the highest levels of guest satisfaction, while meeting bottom line profitability, supposed to find the time and resources to educate him or her on the myriad of sweeping legislation that will undoubtedly affect their ability to control their properties and lead their staffs? This is where having reliable and knowledgeable experts at your fingertips who can render timely and experienced counsel is critical to avoiding the potential pitfalls for employers associated with such extensive employment requirements.

Risk Management: Meth labs in hotels pose a dangerous and significant challenge – Volume 18, No. 1 (January, February)

In recent years, a do-it-yourself drug has entered the American drug culture. Methamphetamine is a psychoactive stimulant drug that poses a unique challenge for hotels because the drug can be manufactured almost anywhere where there is a contained environment free from public observation, such as basements, apartments, RVs in remote locations, rental cabins, and certainly hotel rooms. This article provides insight to hoteliers about what to watch for, how to identify potential meth “cookers”, and how to deal with the clean-up process if your hotel becomes a meth lab site.

Risk Management: Pre-paid legal employment hotline offer for TRC Subscribers (insert) – Volume 18, No. 1 (January, February)

This brochure explains the pre-paid legal services offered by the employment law firm of Ford & Harrison LLP especially for The Rooms Chronicle® subscribers. The annual cost of the service is only $100, saving TRCSM subscribers over $1,400 in prevailing attorney rates. Participation in the hotline program affords hoteliers timely access, up to 30 minutes per month, to over 200 attorneys in the Ford & Harrison firm that specialize in the various disciplines of employment law.

Sales & Marketing: Five Steps for hotels to embark on as they await better economic times – Volume 18, No. 1 (January, February)

The lodging industry is destined for recovery. It’s just a matter of time before the lodging industry experiences the inevitable upswing of consumer demand and will realize increased profitability once again. But what will this upswing look like? How will we as a collective industry know it when it arrives? Will it be as robust as the verge of the Millennium or even four years after the 9-11 tragedy? Or will it sneak upon us in a more stealthy and unrecognizable manner? This article discusses how leisure guests will lead the charge back to profitability and what they will demand from hotels to earn their business. Additionally, five strategies for hoteliers to implement to earn more leisure business are presented.

Sustainability: Do we really need it? Moving to single-stream recycling – Volume 18, No. 1 (January, February)

This is the first installment for a new column for The Rooms Chronicle®. In each issue, the authors will illustrate how to implement sustainable practices for hotel operators. Cutting through the myths, can’t dos, and commercial clutter, the purpose of the column is to help hotel operational managers lower resource usage and reduce costs. To address the new, triple bottom-line of sustainability – people, planet, and profit, hoteliers must look beyond the usual cost savings of reducing “man power” and focus instead on resource conservation. Every hotel manager needs to ask him or herself, “Do we really need it?” The intent is to provide hoteliers and their staff with the fuel and guidance to jumpstart their commitment to sustainable practices that will yield tangible results and actual cost savings.

VOLUME 18: Issue 2 - 2010

From the Editor – Volume 18, No. 2 (March, April)

The Lodging Industry faces many new challenges now and in the immediate future: more intensive ADA requirements, increased scrutiny by OSHA inspectors, higher occupancy tax levies from local governments, more thorough reviews of tax filings, and even greater scrutiny of work eligibility for employees in southern border states such as Arizona and California. What does this mean for hoteliers? Obviously, hotel managers must commit to being extremely vigilant in how they manage their properties, interact with government agencies, and lead their employees…

Front Office: Medical marijuana and incense burning in non-smoking hotels… What to do? – Volume 18, No. 2 (March, April)

Recently, a guest who was burning incense in his guestroom was charged a $250 fee for violating the hotel’s non-smoking policy, as the hotel was a smoke-free property. The guest immediately challenged the assessed fee and stated he was burning the incense for “medical” reasons, claiming it was “aromatherapy”. The hotel asked the guest for a note from his doctor prescribing the “aroma therapy” and the guest produced the doctor’s note. This article addresses the questions of whether the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA) apply in such a situation. Under what conditions can Management prevent a guest from burning incense or lighting up a controlled substance in the privacy of an individual guestroom? And most significantly, does every hotel have to allow aromatherapy, incense burning, or medical marijuana use on its property, even if it is designated a smoke-free property?

Guest Services: Want to create better guest service? Learn the surrounding area of your hotel! – Volume 18, No. 2 (March, April)

Hotel teams can be so focused on getting guests into their hotel that they forget about how important it is to promote the surrounding area of the hotel. Hotels and their communities are in a heterogeneous relationship; a hotel brings people to a city, but a city attracts people to need a hotel in the first place. A hotel contributes to the economy of a city, but the city’s economy directly impacts a hotel’s success. Hotels and their surrounding communities are in a co-dependent relationship and both must be cared for in order to create success. Guests will not differentiate their experience based upon time spent inside and outside of the hotel; therefore, a bad experience outside the hotel is as bad as one inside the hotel. By providing a thorough understanding of the surrounding area, guests are comforted and able to have their expectations met, resulting in a one of a kind stay.

Housekeeping: Establishing par levels for linens is essential to avoid tying up resources – Volume 18, No. 2 (March, April)

Linen is the most important recycled inventory item in the hotel under the executive housekeeper’s responsibility. Next to personnel, linen costs are the highest expense in the Housekeeping department. Careful policies and procedures are needed to control the hotel’s inventory of linen supplies. This article illustrates how to effectively manage hotel linens and to determine the appropriate inventory level for all types of linen used in the hotel.

Human Resources: Dealing with religious accommodation requests from employees – Volume 18, No. 2 (March, April)

When a hotel manager encounters a religion-based request for a waiver of the dress code or days off from work to attend religious services, what is the proper course of action? How must a manager respond to a request for religious accommodation, in order to minimize potential legal liability and maintain a sensitive posture while dealing with a diverse group of employees? This article, written by employment law attorney Jaclyn West, provides some answers.

Risk Management: A quick refresher on swimming pool law and requirements for hotels – Volume 18, No. 2 (March, April)

As the weather starts to warm up and many people begin to make travel plans for Summer vacations, most hotels are beginning to open their outdoor swimming pools for the season. In the past two years many states have enacted legislation that affects commercial pool operators, including hotels. Such changes in pool regulations are intended to make these recreation facilities safer for users and to hold operators more accountable for violations or injuries to guests. This article discusses the Certified Pool/Spa Operator certification, the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act, and 15 additional standards for pool safety.

Risk Management: Quality door mats contribute to a safer and greener indoor endorsement – Volume 18, No. 2 (March, April)

For many years hospitality safety consultants have recommended good entrance mats as a means for preventing injury to guests who are going from a wet or snowy sidewalk to a polished floor with wet, muddy or icy shoes. While the U.S. Green Building Council did not develop the LEED program as a slips and falls prevention program, as this article points out, there are many “green” benefits to installing and maintaining high quality entrance mats. In addition to greater safety against skip and fall accidents, entrance mats can decrease HVAC operating costs and improve their efficiency.

Risk Management: Off-the-job safety is often overlooked when seeking to cut insurance costs – Volume 18, No. 2 (March, April)

Most hotels do not track how many lost time injuries or illnesses were experienced by their employees in off-the-job incidents. For a typical lodging establishment, it will probably be in excess of the number of incidents recorded in on-the-job injuries or job-related illnesses. Since on-the-job incidents will usually require reporting for both Workers Compensation and OSHA, hotels typically maintain extensive records related to on-the-job injuries and illnesses. Yet, the cost and lost productivity time of off-the job accidents and illnesses could result in increased employer-paid insurance premiums and productivity expenses. This article suggests how to best track and reduce off-the job injuries and illnesses of employees.

Sales & Marketing: Need to sell more hotel rooms “in a flash”? Consider flash selling! – Volume 18, No. 2 (March, April)

One of the more controversial marketing techniques to emerge from the challenging business climate that prevailed last year is “flash selling,” or the blasting of time-dated offers to targeted prospects via email. The technique started in the airline business as a way in which to liquidate unsold inventory on selected routes. Hotel companies trying to pump up occupancy on otherwise slow dates have been quick to follow. Hospitality and tourism marketing expert Peter Yesawich explains how flash selling can drive up room revenues and occupancies for the short term.

Sustainability: Moving to single-stream recycling – Part II: Finding cash from dumpsters – Volume 18, No. 2 (March, April)

Well, you’ve heard of “dumpster diving” and how to don a pair of rubber gloves and find cash in the trash. Well, just like crime scene work, it’s not in the gloves or looking in the trash where one finds the real money. After talking to hundreds of hoteliers, the authors of this article realized that the real savings with dumpsters comes with efficient monitoring of one’s trash and the timely scheduling of trash pickups to ensure only “full loads” are being hauled away.

VOLUME 18: Issue 3 - 2010

Ask Gail: Removing Petroleum jelly stains: Books about pioneers of the American Hotel Industry – Volume 18, No. 3 (May, June)

In this Ask Gail column, a reader inquires how to safely remove petroleum jelly stains from the furniture upholstery and the carpeting. Another reader seeks books of inspiration written about America’s greatest hoteliers. Gail furnishes comprehensive answers and suggestions for both inquiries.

From the Editor – Volume 18, No. 3 (May, June)

Soon to be released is news of a new consortium that will incorporate both the educational content and the focus of The Rooms Chronicle® coupled with the vast experience of a handful of veteran consultants, previous hospitality managers, and industry experts. HospitalityEducators.com is a consortium of successful corporate and academic mentors delivering focused and affordable counsel in solving specific challenges facing the hospitality industry. HospitalityEducators.comservices will be designed to help individual hoteliers and hospitality businesses improve their market penetration, deliver service excellence and increase their profitability. The consortium will serve a wide spectrum of hospitality businesses ranging from small family owned operations to large convention centers, including: independent hotels and restaurants, boutique hotels, small hospitality brands, country inns and bed & breakfasts, management companies, hospitality students and aspiring professionals. Look for more details about HospitalityEducators.com to be released soon in TRC and learn how they can assist you.

Front Office: Eight tactics to increase hotel revenue at the front desk – Volume 18, No. 3 (May, June)

Given the challenges of the past two years, it is no surprise that hotel managers are seeking to capture every dollar of potential revenue possible, especially with depressed occupancies and potential guests seeking bargains. The front desk is the perfect place to look for untapped sources of incremental revenue. Every hotel has a front desk, and nearly every guest will visit the front desk to at least check in upon arrival or conduct some other transaction. These interactions are the perfect opportunity to selectively offer guests higher levels of service and accommodations in exchange for a little additional income. This article presents eight different tactics that front office personnel can use to increase revenue.

Front Office: Wake-up call standards vary by segmentations and service levels – Volume 18, No. 3 (May, June)

Deciding on the appropriate standard of service for delivering wake-up calls to guestrooms is something that every rooms division manager or front office manager will consider at one time or another. Much like a clean guestroom, freshly laundered towels, and a comfortable bed, it is one of the small amenities that guests have come to expect when staying away from home. While it costs very little to record and place wake-up calls, hotels accept significant responsibility and potential legal liability when choosing to offer this service. Failing to place a timely wake-up call can result in a guest missing their early morning flight, critical appointment or business meeting, or perhaps even taking vital medicine (such as insulin) on time. Hence, as presented in this article, attention to details and follow through on requests by hotel personnel are necessary.

Front Office: Insert: Wake-Up Call Log – Volume 18, No. 3 (May, June)

A sample wake-up call log is furnished so hoteliers can record wake-up call requests and annotate when they have been completed.

Housekeeping: Top ten problem areas to watch for when room attendants service guestrooms – Volume 18, No. 3 (May, June)

All managers would like to think that their employees are doing exactly what they’re supposed to be doing at all times. But this is rarely the case, even amongst the best employees. The Housekeeping department, generally the largest in the hotel, can easily fall victim to a loss of control and along with it-quality. Whether intentionally or by accident, there are some common mistakes made by employees in each position. By recognizing these weaknesses, managers can save time by doing quick spot checks in the different areas of the hotel and share reminders in staff meetings about these focus points. Welcome to the first of a series of articles highlighting the most commonly observed deficiencies among the different positions of the housekeeping team. This article focuses on the largest group within the Housekeeping department: room attendants.

Risk Management: Hotel Security: How much is too much from guests’ perspective? – Volume 18, No. 3 (May, June)

Since the tragic terrorist attacks directed at hotels in Mumbai in late 2008, the American press – briefly – investigated the state of hotel security in the United States. After being interviewed by several major publications and reading the resultant stories, it quickly became apparent to this author that the collective lodging industry is not ready for increased security at our hotels, primarily because guests will not tolerate such invasive and restrictive measures needed to keep them safe. As described in this article, to enhance security to meet current prevailing threats, several changes would likely have to be made.

Risk Management: Insert: State Statute of Limitations (in Years) for Business Records – Volume 18, No. 3 (May, June)

While the federal government specifies a uniform period of time that various business records should be maintained, each state mandates differing time periods for records retention. This table identifies the duration of the Statute of Limitations for each state as it applies to written contracts, oral contracts, and negligence–related claims.

Risk Management: A matter of record: What and how long must hotel records be maintained? – Volume 18, No. 3 (May, June)

Record keeping for hoteliers has always been a challenge. What information and how should it be recorded? What is mandated? What is optional? Is there a preferred format? What are the rules for the retention of records? Fortunately, there are some excellent sources of information about maintaining records. This article discusses these basics related to employment records, tax records, computerized records, risk management records, and how long business records should be maintained.

Risk Management: Insert: Federal Record Retention Requirements for Businesses – Volume 18, No. 3 (May, June)

Presented a tabular format, this insert identifies the retention requirements of various records and reports associated with federal business laws.

Sales & Marketing: Five tips for hoteliers in order to effectively interact with the media – Volume 18, No. 3 (May, June)

A major objective of hotel owners, managers and sales professionals is to profitably provide hospitality services to as many guests as possible. Recognizing the differences in the various components of the sales and marketing efforts will undoubtedly make that service provider more focused on net results, guest satisfaction and profitability, rather than on headlines. Unfortunately, hotels are inviting venues for potential crime, lawsuits, and media stings. As a result, there are many times in this global economy when a hotel might become the news, rather than be featured in it. The following five major points are offered as a primer for positive contact and professional relations with the media.

Sustainability: Maintaining sustainability: Turn out the lights and focus on operational efficiency – Volume 18, No. 3 (May, June)

In this article, the authors discuss strategies to improve the financial performance of a hotel’s operation through the reduction of its energy consumption. The article explains ten actions that every staff can implement to save money and make the hotel more environmentally sustainable.

VOLUME 18: Issue 4 - 2010

Ask Gail: Locking down housekeeper vacuums and hotel “emergency keys” – Volume 18, No. 4 (July, August)

In this article, Gail responds to readers’ inquiries about how to prevent housekeeping staff members from “borrowing” other attendants’ vacuums without permission and where the hotel’s ‘emergency keys” should be located.

From the Editor – Volume 18, No. 4 (July, August)

Based on my recent travels and observations, as well as my conversations with many hoteliers, it has been a good Summer for the lodging industry. Occupancies have increased beyond most expectations and room rates have been driven much higher than ever projected. The impending Autumn travel season appears to be robust as well. Given the underperforming year of 2009 and the downward spiral caused by the economic recession, perhaps we have just become smarter as hoteliers? Or perhaps we as a collective industry have just “right-sized” ourselves in terms of how we should really be operating our hotels?

Front Office: Keeping the night auditors productive during slow periods saves money – Volume 18, No. 4 (July, August)

There are periods in the life of a hotel when occupancy hits rock-bottom, the number of check-ins or departures is minimal, or little activity is occurring at the front desk or near the hotel lobby. The overnight shift is one such example in many properties, especially for limited-service and select-service hotels, where front desk personnel can often be found wiling the time away waiting for the next service encounter to emerge. More than likely your hotel’s night auditor is reading the newspaper, watching television, playing online games, posting on Facebook or Twitter, or working a crossword puzzle in the middle of the night to pass the time until their relief arrives at 7am. To increase overall productivity, consider assigning the tasks outlined in this article to your night audit personnel as time permits.

Guest Services: Good Samaritan Statutes protect hoteliers who assist guests in dire need – Volume 18, No. 4 (July, August)

In most states there is no general legal duty to assist or rescue persons who are injured or in distress, even if they are guests on your premises. Every state has some form of a Good Samaritan Statute intended to provide immunity from liability for individuals who voluntarily and gratuitously come to the assistance of injured persons. These laws were developed to encourage people to come to the aid of others in emergency situations and shield them from liability if the victim is injured or dies while trying to assist them. This article outlines the elements common to most Good Samaritan Statutes, which vary from state to state.

Guest Services: Insert: Poster – First Aid for Choking – Volume 18, No. 4 (July, August)

This 8.5” x 11” color poster is suitable for posting in restaurants, lounges, and employee areas. It illustrates the sequential steps hotel employees should undertake to render first aid to a guest or another employee who is choking.

Housekeeping: Summer bed bug update for hoteliers – Volume 18, No. 4 (July, August)

This article provides an update of current bed bug education activity that is available to hoteliers and briefly discusses what steps hotel employees should undertake to be on the watch for bed bug activity in your property.

Housekeeping: Top ten problem areas to watch for when housemen service guests floors – Volume 18, No. 4 (July, August)

All managers would like to think that their employees are doing exactly what they’re supposed to be doing at all times. But this is rarely the case, even amongst the best employees. The Housekeeping department, generally the largest in the hotel, can easily fall victim to a loss of control and along with it-quality. Whether intentionally or by accident, there are some common mistakes made by employees in each position. By recognizing these weaknesses, managers can save time by doing quick spot checks in the different areas of the hotel and share reminders in staff meetings about these focus points. Welcome to the second of a series of articles highlighting the most commonly observed deficiencies among the different positions of the housekeeping team. This article focuses on the top ten problem areas overlooked or neglected by housemen.

Human Resources: Best practices for discipline and discharge in the hotel industry – Volume 18, No. 4 (July, August)

It happens to every employer sooner or later. It’s an unfortunate fact that, no matter how good of an atmosphere the workplace may be, sooner or later an employee will break the rules and needs to be disciplined or even discharged. When this sad situation inevitably arises, hoteliers find themselves facing potential liability on several fronts. On the one hand, if the discipline or discharge is handled wrong, the hotel could face legal liability in the form of a defamation or discrimination claim. On the other hand, hoteliers must enforce the rules, for the sake of both their guests and their other employees. As explained in this article, there are some simple principles that can go a long way toward limiting potential legal liability.

Risk Management: Helping in choking and breathing emergencies – Volume 18, No. 4 (July, August)

It is foreseeable that a hotel guest will become injured or may require immediate medical attention at some point. Probably no emergency requires more immediate response than incidents where a victim has stopped breathing. The two most likely scenarios where this could happen in a hotel is near the swimming pool (e.g., drowning) or a food and beverage venues (e.g., choking on food or liquids). This article outlines the immediate steps that each hotel manager and employee should take to deal with these situations and possibly save a life.

Risk Management: Courtesy vans pose a risk management dilemma if not maintained and licensed correctly – Volume 18, No. 4 (July, August)

All too often a hotel or resort’s courtesy van (or “shuttle van”) is an afterthought to many hotel managers. This often results in what turns out to be an illegal operation and a potential liability nightmare. This article discusses several considerations for operating hotel courtesy vehicles that hotel managers should bear in mind to minimize accidents, increase guest satisfaction, and limiting potential liability.

Sustainability: Water conversation for hotels- Start today to meet the needs of tomorrow – Volume 18, No. 4 (July, August)

Only when the water is shut off or the hot runs cold do we stop and think, first about the inconvenience, and maybe for a fleeting second about what if we ran out of water? So as hoteliers, how do we save water, reduce our costs, and simultaneously meet customer demands? This article provides several suggestions on how to minimize water usage, and save money in the long term, while not compromising the guest experience.

VOLUME 18: Issue 5 - 2010

From the Editor – Volume 18, No. 5 (September, October)

We are pleased to bring you several articles in this issue related to safety, security and some of the unrealized facts about insurance for hotels, each written by one of our content area experts. All our contributing authors write with the same purpose in mind: to educate you, our reader, so that you are in the best position to make informed decisions and initiate positive and proactive practices that will enable your hotel to flourish and increase profitability. Please read the article on hotel robberies and share it with your front office staff. First and foremost, we must always protect our guests and employees…

Front Office: Tracking early arrivals increases guest satisfaction and alleviates front desk stress – Volume 18, No. 5 (September, October)

When hotels are in full swing with wedding guests, sport fans, and group conventions, the chances of seeing tight guestroom turns and busy lobbies increase tremendously. Mix those combinations with the average business travelers that are staying one or two nights and the result will be a very busy hotel and front desk. When the hotel has approximately 200 check-outs that are not obligated to vacate their guestrooms until 11a.m. or 12noon, and another 50 to 100 guests trying to check-in by 1p.m., accommodating each and every guest seems like mission impossible. The objective of this article is to promote and encourage hotels to have a system in place to track all guests trying to check-in before the published arrival hour and before the hotel has a clean and vacant room available.

Front Office: Prostitution, swingers clubs and orgies; Sometimes you have to say “No” – Part II. – Volume 18, No. 5 (September, October)

In an article that appeared last year in The Rooms Chronicle (Issue 17, No. 3 – May/June 2009), a case of a police prostitution “sting” at a hotel was presented where the front desk clerk did not say “no” to a possible use of the hotel for prostitution. The point of that article was to demonstrate that the hospitality industry does not say “no” enough, especially in situations where they know they should take action, even if it means a guest may complain or be upset. Well, it has happened again, and it may be a situation that many hotels may encounter. This article illustrates questionable reservation requests that hotels may face and discusses how to deal with them.

Front Office: Lessons learned from a recent attempted hotel robbery – Volume 18, No. 5 (September, October)

Hotels are prime targets for robbery. They all keep and collect cash and other forms of payment on the premises, they are open 24 hours a day – 365 days a year, and hotels are very transitory businesses with people constantly coming and going at all hours. Yet, hotels tend to become very quiet during late night hours and fewer patrons are usually out and about. This makes front desks susceptible to individuals seeking to score some quick cash by staging a robbery. This article highlights a recent hotel robbery and explains why it was unsuccessful. Tips for surviving and minimizing the potential for future robberies at front desks are presented. This article is a must read for all front desk personnel.

Guest Services: 25 steps to increase efficiency and boost the bottom line in your hotel – Volume 18, No. 5 (September, October)

Many hotels around the country have made major changes in operations to run a more efficient operation – a must in this slower economy. But many hotel operators are missing opportunities, and some might not know where to start on what can seem like an overwhelming task. The good news is that whether it is improving an underperforming property, simply weathering the economic storm, or taking over a new hotel, owners and managers can usually make some relatively quick and easy changes to deliver an immediate boost to the bottom line. Here is a short and sweet to-do list of 25 points to consider, across some key operational departments, to inject a dose of economy-proofing in your property.

Housekeeping: Top ten areas to watch for when housekeepers service public areas – Volume 18, No. 5 (September, October)

Before hotel guests reach their guestrooms, they pass the hotel’s main entrance and lobby area. Therefore, the public areas serve as a firsthand advertisement for the hotel. This article is the third in a series that highlights the most commonly observed deficiencies among the different positions of the housekeeping team. Explored here are the top ten problem areas where public area attendants fail to meet standards.

Housekeeping: Are public restrooms giving a great first impression? – Volume 18, No. 5 (September, October)

Veteran cleaners explain how to inspect a public restroom: “Walk in the door. Look up to see if the ceiling vent is fuzz free, and look down to see if the floor drain is clean and polished.” In two quick glances, these experts can determine whether the restroom receives regular, detailed care or only a passing touch-up. Does this two-glance method really separate the clean from the not-so-clean? “Yes,” veteran cleaners will say. “When the cleaning staff cares enough to reach up to vacuum the air vents or to get on hands and knees to polish the metal floor drain, you can be sure they have also cleaned the walls, floors, and fixtures.” As explained in this article, keeping public restrooms clean and safe requires a strong combination of daily and regular cleaning. A checklist of cleaning tasks and equipment are provided.

Risk Management: How to obtain a return on investment for your hotel’s insurance dollar – Volume 18, No. 5 (September, October)

A recent study indicated insurance costs were approximately 2% of the total budget of a hotel company. This quickly escalates from tens of thousands to hundreds of thousands to millions of dollars as the size of the company increases. Insurance companies typically authorize around 2% of the premium to be allocated for risk control services. In reality, 2% of 2% does not translate to a very large financial commitment to reducing injury to a hotel’s guests and employees. Veteran risk management expert Jesse Denton explains how to obtain a respectable return on the hotel’s investment for its insurance premiums.

Risk Management: Security Alert! Check the security of your hotel’s Knox Boxes frequently – Volume 18, No. 5 (September, October)

A Knox Box is a small, wall-mounted safe-like box that holds building keys for firefighters and EMTs to retrieve in emergencies. In many jurisdictions, the local Fire Department requires that a Knox Box be located outside of every hotel in order to facilitate rapid entry by authorized emergency personnel. Unfortunately, some hotels have recently seen many of these Knox Boxes forcefully removed from their wall mountings and stolen from the property. In several cases the thieves then returned to the hotel with the master keys and stole items. This article discusses the pros and cons of using Know Boxes and what hoteliers should do to protect their Knox Boxes from being compromised.

Risk Management: Insert: Poster – The latest in U.S. Currency Design – Volume 18, No. 5 (September, October)

This color poster is suitable for posting near all cashier and point of sale areas. It illustrates the latest redesign in American paper currency and the various security features that have been incorporated.

Risk Management: Insert: Poster – The new $100 note – Volume 18, No. 5 (September, October)

This color poster is suitable for posting near all cashier and point of sale areas. It illustrates the latest redesign in the U.S. $100 note and the various security features that have been incorporated to prevent counterfeiting.

Risk Management: Insert: Booklet – The Latest U.S. currency design – Volume 18, No. 5 (September, October)

This color booklet is suitable for placing near all cashier and point of sale areas. It illustrates and explains the latest redesign in the $100, $50, $20, $10 and $5 notes and the various security features that have been incorporated.

Sustainability: Several initiatives that hotels can take to “green” their transportation – Volume 18, No. 5 (September, October)

The facts are clear, transportation in the United States and around the world is rapidly changing, and some hotels are on board to do their part to reduce their hotel’s carbon footprint. This article explains how one such hotel adopted a transportation Green initiative and the various efforts it undertook to minimize energy expense and carbon emissions while engaging in sustainable, long-term practices regarding hotel transportation.

VOLUME 18: Issue 6 - 2010

Ask Gail: New detection system can eliminate false claims against hotels of bed bug infestation – Volume 18, No. 6 (November, December)

With all the adverse publicity about bed bugs infestations permeating the media, how is a hotel supposed to defend itself against claims of bedbug bites from overly sensitive hotel guests? This can be difficult since a property does not want to summarily dismiss any guests’ claims and appear as uncaring or disingenuous, nor does the hotel not want to be liable for claims that are not true or which it held no legal responsibility for. As explained in this article, the good news for hoteliers is that a new bedbug detection product has recently been developed that will enable hoteliers to check for recent activities of bedbugs in guestrooms on and near beds.

Engineering: Confronting bed bug infestations with a multi-treatment protocol – Volume 18, No. 6 (November, December)

Hoteliers can confront bed bugs proactively by understanding the biology and behavior of this persistent pest, and what it takes to identify and eliminate them. Proper treatment of bed bug infestations will help minimize a property manager’s liabilities, protect their brand, and optimize guest satisfaction. As this article illustrates, most pest control professionals and industry experts agree that multiple treatments (instead of one-time treatments) are necessary to control bed bug infestations, due to bed bugs’ biology and behavior.

Engineering: Bed bug detection poster – Volume 18, No. 6 (November, December)

This color poster is suitable for posting in Housekeeping areas and room attendants’ closets. It illustrates the telltale signs of bedbugs and reminds housekeepers what they should do if they find them.

Engineering: Insert: “Stopping bed bugs starts with you” – Volume 18, No. 6 (November, December)

Perfect for providing to room attendants, this pocket is printed in English and Spanish.

From the Editor – Volume 18, No. 6 (November, December)

The number of attendees and exhibitor’s at this year’s International Hotel, Motel & Restaurant Show in New York City appeared to have contracted slightly in size over recent shows in previous years. But that did not deter the TRC staff from finding a handful of unique products that our readers may find beneficial for their hotels. Among this year’s new products is a travel childproofing kit, gravity operated peephole covers, and a bed bug detection system. Articles about each of these items are presented in this issue…

Front Desk: Five immediate turnoffs that will negatively impress arriving guests – Volume 18, No. 6 (November, December)

First impressions really do matter to guests! In the early 1990’s, Marriott hotels pioneered a concept known then as “First 10”. The premise was that the first ten minutes during a guest’s stay would determine whether the arriving guest would be satisfied or dissatisfied upon departure. If the hotel could deliver perfect service for the first ten minutes, a guest would still be happy by the time they checked out of the hotel, even if one or more service failures occurred after the initial ten minute period. Yet, in this author’s extensive travels, several service deficiencies exist in most hotels as witnessed within minutes of arriving. Now might be a good time for you to check your own property through the eyes of an arriving guest to see if the negative impressions presented in this article exist in your hotel.

Guest Services: Guest traveling with service animals cannot be denied service – Volume 18, No. 6 (November, December)

The Americans with Disabilities Act has been interpreted to allow a specific accommodation that has a direct impact on hotels and restaurants. Specifically, hotels and restaurants must allow persons with disabilities to bring their service animals into all areas where customers are normally permitted to go. It is easy to see however, that due to the nature of the services provided and the accommodation in question, many issues may arise as to compliance with the law. This article explains how hotels must comply when it comes to guests with service animals.

Housekeeping: Childproofing kit can be a differentiating amenity item for hotel rooms – Volume 18, No. 6 (November, December)

As even the most patient parent can attest, traveling with young children is stressful. While supervision goes a long way toward preventing injuries, even the most vigilant parents can’t keep kids completely out of harm’s way every second of the day. Yet, redesigning rooms specifically to accommodate the needs of travelers with young children would be extremely costly and time consuming. However, as this article explains, a new amenity item known as The Travel-Tot Travel Childproofing Kit is designed with an eye toward offering guests an additional layer of protection between their young children and the hazards found away from home.

Human Resources: Which restroom? Employers face challenges with gender identity issues – Volume 18, No. 6 (November, December)

What happens when a male transgendered employee in your hotel wants to use the female restroom or locker room and other employees protest? Is your hotel required to comply with the transgendered employee’s request? And is such a request protected by the Americans with Disabilities Act? Labor attorney Philip Moss discusses what an employer’s rights and obligations are when confronted with such requests from transgendered employees.

Risk Management: Inexpensive devices can ensure guest privacy and eliminate peephole tampering – Volume 18, No. 6 (November, December)

The revelation that occurred last summer following the Erin Andrews peephole stalking case has had a profound impact on the Lodging Industry. In the Erin Andrews case, the viewing port (often referred to as a peephole) in the victim’s guestroom door was unscrewed and removed from the hallway, enabling the stalker to place a video recording device in the peephole and surreptitiously record the victim in various stages of undress. What most hotel guests do not realize, and what most hotel managers are just beginning to learn, is that these peepholes can be tampered with from the exterior of the guestroom door, without the guest being aware. As explained in this article, one company has developed a solution for today’s privacy and security issues relating to peephole tampering.

Risk Management: Insert: 2011 The Rooms Chronicle Calendar and Hotel Evacuation Procedures Checklist (Poster) – Volume 18, 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 2011 and a comprehensive checklist for hotel departments to implement in the event that evacuating the hotel becomes necessary.

Sales & Marketing: Interactive marketing is a low-cost/high impact positioning tactic for hotels – Volume 18, No. 6 (November, December)

Use of interactive social media as a marketing tool has become an increasingly popular tactic by businesses to further engage their existing consumer base. Dubbed “interactive marketing”, these media can also assist in building brand awareness among a constantly growing pool of potential new customers. Many lodging establishments and restaurant venues, from independent properties to large nation and worldwide chains, have begun participating in some form of interactive marketing. While powerful, wildly popular and extremely economical, there are several considerations related to the execution and maintenance of any interactive marketing efforts that should be taken into account prior to initiating this type of tactic via any social media platform.

Sales & Marketing: Friends, fans or advisors: Does social media influence choice? – Volume 18, No. 6 (November, December)

Social media are the rage among marketers of travel services. The theoretical “reach” of social media does, in fact, boggle the mind: Facebook alone now boasts in excess of 500,000,000 members globally. The incidence of adults who report posting on the other popular sites pales by comparison. But to what extent do active travelers visit these sites, consult the content of these sites when evaluating travel service options and, perhaps most importantly, report that the content of what they find on these sites influences their actual behavior? The answers may surprise you.

Sustainability: “Greening” your hotel’s meetings – Volume 18, No. 6 (November, December)

Internal meetings with staff are a necessary evil. Nobody enjoys all of the meetings that are scheduled throughout the week to make sure that operations are running smoothly, but if they are managed properly they can provide a forum to discuss items that are critical to the success of the services provided to the hotel’s guests. There is a plethora of books and anecdotes parlaying factors that lead to successful meetings; however, there is a dearth of content focused on making such meetings more sustainable. This article provides tips that should be implemented when holding internal meetings to increase sustainability.