Hospitality Posts (140)
Sometimes it can be confusing understanding whether your hotel actually made a profit last evening, last month, or last year. While limited-service hotels typically only generate revenue from guestroom sales, and perhaps phone calls made from guestrooms, in-room movies purchased, or vending machine revenues, select-service and full-service hotels can have a more difficult task because of the additional services they offer for purchase. Regardless of the service level your hotel offers, every competent manager should know and be able to determine how much of any product or service they must sell in order to realize a profit.
Because of the various fixed costs associated with operating, maintaining and staffing hotels, there is a specific point, both in terms of dollars generated and room nights sold, where the hotel will start to realize a profit. Until the hotel reaches that magical number of guestrooms sold and revenue generated, all sales up to that point will essentially be used to pay for the fixed costs to operate the hotel plus the variable costs to supply and maintain the guestrooms that are used.
Look at the figure below as an example. For the time period in question, the hotel would have to sell 3,000 guestroom nights and in the process generate $280,000 in room revenue (not including occupancy taxes) before its operation of selling guestrooms was to be deemed profitable. Interpreted another way, this would mean that the hotel must sell at least 3,000 guestrooms at an average daily rate of $93.33 during the time period before it would generate a profit. The hotel could sell a fewer number of guestrooms at a higher ADR or a greater number of guestrooms at a lower ADR in order to reach the breakeven point in sales, but bear in mind that the breakeven point in sales may not be the same because of the variable costs associated with providing guestrooms for use.
Total Fixed Costs
To calculate the breakeven point for a given time period, a manager must first be able to calculate the total fixed costs that the hotel will incur. Total fixed costs are the sum of all the expenses that a hotel must pay for during a time period that will not fluctuate because of occupancy. Typical fixed costs may include mortgage and insurance expenses, managers’ salaries and benefits, property taxes, the payroll and benefits expenses of the least number of employees that must work even if the hotel has no guests, and the expenses of the utilities that must be maintained even if the hotel has zero occupancy (e.g., such as maintaining a minimum amount of heat to keep water pipes from freezing in the Winter). With each of these aforementioned expenses, the amount of the expense will not deviate regardless of how many or how few guestrooms are sold.
The next step is that a hotel manager must calculate the variable costs associated with selling each unit, in this case a guestroom. Variable expenses are deemed “variable” because they are only incurred if a room is sold or used. If the guestroom remains vacant for the night, there are no variable costs that the hotel must pay for; any required costs associated with maintaining a non-used guestroom would be considered a fixed cost.
Variable costs for guestrooms will typically include the expense of labor and supplies to service the room after use (e.g., room attendant labor, chemicals, amenities, and utility expense), the labor, chemical and utility expense associated with servicing the guestroom’s linens, the expense of the utilities associated with the guest’s occupancy (e.g., electricity, water, heat, etc.), and the guestroom’s fare share contribution towards a capital budget for replacing furniture, fixture, and equipment in the guestroom every 3-7 years as part of a regularly scheduled refurbishment.
It is no surprise that hotels set the minimum selling price for each guestroom at or above the variable expenses for each guestroom. Failure to do so would be foolish and lead to assured deeper financial loss with every room sold. But the room price must also reflect its contribution towards supporting the hotel’s total fixed costs. Knowing the total fixed costs for the entire hotel and the variable costs associated with each sold guestroom, when coupled with the average selling price, a hotel manager can easily calculate the breakeven point for the hotel, both in terms of number of guestrooms that must be sold but also in guestroom revenue that must be generated, in order for the hotel to realize a point of profitability.
Using Breakeven Analysis Formulas
Here is an example to illustrate how to use the breakeven analysis formulas. Let’s assume that the Ambassador Hotel has 900 guestrooms. The total fixed costs for the hotel on any given night are $22,350.00. The variable costs per guestroom are $9.54, broken down as follows:
Labor expense to service guestroom: $4.00
Laundry expense: $1.70
Cleaning chemicals and supplies: $1.00
Amenity items: $1.30
Utilities consumed by guest and to clean room: $1.54
Total variable expense per guestroom per night: $9.54
Now let’s assume that the average daily rate for the hotel last night was $88.93. To calculate the Breakeven Point in Units for a given time period use the following formula:
BEP units = Total Fixed Costs for the Hotel ÷ Selling Price per unit – Variable Costs per unit = $22,350.00 ÷ ($88.93 - $9.54) = 281.52rooms
This means that given the total fixed costs, variable costs per guestroom, and an average room rate of $88.93 the Ambassador hotel would have to sell at least 282 guestrooms before it realized profitability last night. If it sold 281 or fewer guestrooms at an ADR of $88.93 or less, the hotel would not generate sufficient gross revenue to meet its expense obligations. Yet, for every room above 282 guestrooms that were sold last night, the hotel is generating a pre-tax profit of $79.39 per room. Obviously, the more guestrooms it sells over and above 282 rooms, the greater the profit amount.
To calculate the Breakeven Point in Sales one merely needs to multiply the Breakeven Point in Units by the selling price. In the above example, the selling price would be the average daily rate for the previous evening:
BEP sales = (Breakeven Point Units) (Selling Price) = (281.52 rooms) ($88.93) =Total Fixed Costs for the Hotel $25,035.57
Hence, if the selling price is set at $88.93 (or if the ADR for a given time period was $88.93) the Ambassador Hotel must generate at least $25,035.57 in guestroom sales before its operation is considered profitable. As an example, if the hotel generated gross guestroom revenue of $53,358 (600 guestrooms sold at an ADR of $88.93), then it would realize a profit of $25,284.13. This is calculated as follows:
Profit beyond BEP = [(Units sold beyond BEP units) (Selling Price – Variable Costs per Unit )]
Profit beyond BEP = [(600 rooms – 281.52 rooms) ($88.93 - $9.54)]
Profit beyond BEP = (318.48 rooms) ($79.39) = $25,284.13
Breakeven analysis is a powerful analytical tool that hotels managers can use for any item or service that they sell, not just guestrooms. As long as the business operation’s total fixed costs, and the variable costs and selling price for each item can be determined, the breakeven point of profitability can be calculated. The above supplied formulas can also be used to determine how a change in expenses or selling price will increase or decrease the number of units that must be sold in order to achieve profitability.
If a hotel manager is neither aware of the expenses associated with their products or services or is ignorant as to their breakeven point, such a manager will struggle to ascertain when and if their lodging operation is a financial success or a drain on ownership’s resources.
In any moment of decision, the best thing you can do is the right thing, the next best thing is the wrong thing, and the worst thing you can do is nothing. — Theodore Roosevelt
Families save hard-earned dollars looking forward to an upcoming vacation or get-away. Our basic demands are few but fundamental. The experience must be safe and it must be fun. One individual’s unhappiness can often be remedied with an apology, a promise to make improvements, or a complimentary amenity. However, constant national news coverage reporting on hundreds of ill cruise ship passengers represents a hemorrhaging that is not easily stopped.
On January 21, 2014, Royal Caribbean’s Explorer of the Seas departed for what was scheduled to be a 10-day cruise. Within days, passengers and crew developed symptoms of the norovirus. By the time the ship docked in New Jersey eight days later, the whole world knew about the hundreds of sick passengers, ruined honeymoons, inspections by the Centers for Disease Control, and the general public asking whether a cruise ship is a “floating petri dish.”
This story line is not new. The headline over Memorial Day weekend in 2013 was the Carnival Triumph “dead in the water” following an engine room fire during a four-day trip from Texas to Mexico. There, reports of food shortages, raw sewage and tent cities on the deck quickly became the lead story on the national news. After the ship was towed to dry land, passengers were willingly photographed kissing the ground and telling their individual stories of horror. The first lawsuit was filed within hours of the last passenger disembarking, describing the ship as a “floating hell.”
In each case, every action and alleged inaction by the cruise company was under a microscope. In the case of the Explorer of the Seas, passengers were confined to their cabins for days and reports quickly surfaced that there may have been more than 1,000 sick passengers and crew—hundreds more than initially reported. In the case of Triumph, the free alcohol meant to appease passengers reportedly had the opposite effect. And once on land, a chartered bus reportedly broke down and a chartered flight was delayed due to an electrical failure. In both cases, passengers are interviewed on the national news, proudly declaring that they will never step foot on a cruise ship again.
Despite this, the cruise industry and the passengers onboard these ships are fortunate in many respects. In both cases, the ships themselves sustained limited physical damage and in neither case was a fatality or life-threatening injury reported. However, the cruise industry relies on the public perception that cruising is fun and safe, and that the experience largely outweighs the remote likelihood of an accident or outbreak. The cruise industry surely wants to avoid legal battles with its passengers. But the industry surely needs to avoid a public relations disaster.
All companies must be zealous about protecting their public image, both before and after a crisis. Crisis management insurance provides companies the financial flexibility to respond appropriately to a public relations issue. A crisis management policy generally obligates the insurer to advance the costs associated with responding to an event such as a man-made disaster or the contamination of foods, beverages or pharmaceutical products. This coverage is available to the insured regardless of fault. A crisis event is should include any occurrence that, in the good faith opinion of the insured, will result in damages if crisis management services are not utilized, as well as where the insured anticipates significant adverse media coverage. Crisis management services are those services performed by a crisis management firm, including advising the insured on how to minimize potential harm, and maintain or restore public confidence in the insured. The policy also covers medical and funeral expenses, psychological counseling, travel and temporary living expenses, expenses to secure the scene, and any other expenses pre-approved by the insurer. The future success of the cruise industry may depend on how quickly the public forgets the fact that the most recent incident may be the largest norovirus outbreak on a cruise ship in two decades.
As with any type of insurance, the scope of crisis management coverage depends on the precise terms of the particular policy. Companies should review their crisis management policies— both when purchasing them and when making claims for coverage.
Finally, keep the following tips in mind to get the most out of your crisis management coverage:
• Make sure that the policy meets your coverage needs. Communicate your
coverage expectations to your insurance broker because some crisis management
policies are narrower than others.
• To avoid coverage disputes, make sure that the policy’s definition of “crisis” is
sufficiently broad. Since the concept of “crisis” is subjective, the policy should be
tailored to define that term broadly enough to capture any event that your company
believes may damage its reputation. In addition, the insurer may attempt to limit
or pre-select the crisis management and/or public relations firms available to the
company. If the company has a firm or representative that it would use in the event of
a crisis, it should be communicated to the insurer before the coverage is purchased.
• When making a claim for coverage, strive to satisfy all conditions in your
policy. To avoid complicating your claim, carefully assess all policy conditions —
particularly timing-related conditions that may purport to impose deadlines on when
your company must give notice of a claim, submit a proof of loss, or initiate litigation
against the insurer. Also be aware of conditions requiring certain individuals to
become aware of the coverage-triggering occurrence that gives rise to the crisis event.
Mutual Legal Assistance Treaties - Understanding the Basics of Joint US/Foreign Cooperation in Criminal Justice Matters
Recently, much discussion has occurred in the US press and in other circles regarding the recent conviction-upon Italian government appeal-of Amanda Knox in the murder of her roommate, Meredith Kercher. Will the US extradite her? Is she subject to Italian law? Is this double jeopardy, since she was acquitted once already (after a successful appeal post-conviction in a lower court)?
The answers to those questions and the legal basis justifying them reside in the details encapsulated in the US-Italy Treaty of Mutual Legal Assistance, one of the oldest in force today. It remains to be seen whether the Italian Ministry of Justice will request her extradition and whether the US Department of Justice will appear before a US federal district court to act on a provisional request for arrest. So far, the government of Italy has not requested extradition.
If all this legal talk sounds confusing, the purpose of the above is to illustrate a few details of what a Mutual Legal Assistance Treaty or MLAT means in the realm of criminal justice cooperation between nations. There are dozens of MLAT treaties currently in force between the US and several nations. Each MLAT treaty must go through a ratification process in both countries that are signatories. In the US, MLAT treaties, like all treaties, require approval by the US Senate. Once ratified, it has the force of law, meaning that it is not at all easy for the US or the other signing party to wiggle out of its obligations.
In general terms, MLAT treaties do the following:
• They set forth the terms of police to police cooperation between each nation;
• They establish which investigative techniques require more substantive process (such as a letters rogatory, similar to a subpoena) before one country hands over evidence to another;
• With regard to evidence, they establish the terms under which foreign-derived evidence eventually is used in the court proceedings of the other sovereign nation which has signed the treaty;
• Significantly, most MLAT treaties deal mainly with criminal matters, rather than civil procedure. However, revisions to treaties increasingly address civil matters as long as one party to the civil action is the sovereign nation that has signed the treaty.
Importantly, it is vital to understand that in cases where civil litigation requires evidence from overseas, the private individual must rely on his or her attorneys in country to file an action requesting the production of such evidence. Think of resolving claims over residential property after the death of the property owner, in other words, an inheritance matter. The MLAT treaties regulate activities between states, not between individuals. So, you’re on your own in the case of property rights, divorce settlements, or civil liability/damages/restitution.
Finally, MLATs are written with the understanding that before evidence can be transferred from one country to another or before a person can be arrested in one country at the request of another, the alleged crime in the requesting country must also be a crime in the country where the defendant is located. For example, drug trafficking, murder or sexual assault is a crime in the US as well as in most others, so that hurdle is overcome. Criminal association (not conspiracy) is not a violation in the US, but is in some other counties, so the treaty would not grant the arrest of a person in the US charged with that offense.
Notably, most countries have stipulated in their MLAT agreements with the US that if the death penalty is a possibility upon a finding of guilt in a US court process, the US government (and state or local jurisdictions in the US) will not seek the death penalty. Without this provision, there would be no MLAT agreements with any European Union country, all of which have outlawed the death penalty.
With regard to judicial cooperation within the EU, the old bilateral MLAT agreements have been supplanted by the multi-faceted agreements ratified by the European Parliament and implemented by the European Commission. These agreements spell out EU-wide terms of criminal justice cooperation between member states, including use of the European arrest warrant, which permits one EU member to execute the arrest of a person wanted by another member state without seeking additional authorization from a justice ministry.
There are certain, reasonable expectations we have when paying for a hotel room, such as a good night's sleep, clean sheets, decent water pressure and the assurance that no one is going to break into our hotel room and make off with our iPods, laptops, wallets or jewelry. But we've seen Ocean's 11 and 12 and we know how crafty thieves can be when they want something from your hotel room.
Recently, we've noticed a rash of hotel security breakdowns from thieves robbing sugar barons in Los Angeles to hackers stealing guests' personal information to someone making off with one of our iPods in Vegas. This is all unsettling because hotel rooms are supposed to be your sanctuary and also because, um, you're paying for that room.
Now, we're not saying that you will be a victim of crime whenever you stay at a hotel but it can happen whether you're in a roadside hotel or a five-start hotel in Beverly Hills. Here are Five Ways Your Safety at Hotels Can Be Compromised and five things you can do to protect yourself. Got your own hotel safety tips? Put 'em in comments below.
1. THE HOTEL ROOM DOOR
This video demonstrates how a crafty, flexible and patient thief could potentially unlock the door to your room using a metal hanger. The fact that a wire hanger could open your hotel room door from the inside is astonishing. But we think this type of break-in is extremely high-risk for the thief. Even with lots of practice, the thief might not get the door open on the first try. Which means he or she will have to be ok with writhing on the hallway floor in bright lighting, praying that no one comes down the hallway...and that hotel doesn't have security cameras on every floor.
What you can do: In case you are worried that someone is going to risk the hanger trick on your room, this video suggests simply placing a towel in front of the door on the floor, thus blocking the hanger from poking through.
2. THE IN-ROOM SAFE
The in-room safe has always been problematic for hotel guests. Guests hate when hotels don't have them, guests hate when hotels charge for them and guests hate when they aren't big enough to accommodate their laptops. But more often than guest gripes, in-room safes have been mocked for being incredibly easy to break open. This video is just one example of an instructional video for breaking open safes using a paper clip.
What you can do: Obviously, you can avoid placing items in the in-room safe if you're concerned about theft. You can also buy your own portable travel safe which you can hook up to a stationary item in the hotel room like the bed. Regarding bigger items like your laptop, you can invest in laptop lojacks. Lastly, some hotels have their own safety deposit boxes at the front desk that you can use during your stay for a fee.
3. THE SAFETY LATCH
This type of break-in scared the bejesus out of us because we consider the safety latch to be extremely important to our safety, especially from the pesky housekeeping and mini-bar staff. But it seems as if thieves cam use this special tool to break through the safety latch and into your room.
What you can do: Make sure you are locking all the locks on your hotel room door, not just the safety latch. Also, if someone is doing this to your hotel room, they must really be after you for something. Consider a less public hideout instead.
4. THE GUEST DATABASE
Hotel guest databases are extremely easy to hack as we learned the other week when Wyndham Hotels had their guests' personal info breached for the second time in a few years. But it's not just Wyndham this is happening too as several hotel chains have had their guest information compromised.
What you can do: The big hotel chains are often the target for hacking because it can take months before they even realize they've been hacked. Also, most of the hotels are essentially franchise businesses which keep different systems for storing guest information making them more susceptible to hacks. So this could be a good reason to patronize smaller, independent hotels instead. But if you're married to a hotel brand because of loyalty points, this may not be a feasible option. Then you might want to consider an identity theft protection service.
5. THE PEEPHOLE
Ever since ESPN reporter Erin Andrews made the news last year after a stalker filmed her undressing through her hotel room peephole, people have been freaked out about more peeping Toms. (Ok, maybe it's just us.) Even though the chances of peephole crime during your hotel stay are extremely low, there are simple things you can do to protect yourself.
What you can do: Give the peephole a good look when you get into your hotel room to make sure there's nothing unusual about it. If you're still worried, you can place a piece of dark tape over the peephole just in case. If you're still worried, you can take a chance on ordering something called the Peeper Stopper. But just because you have the peephole covered doesn't mean there isn't a secret camera somewhere in the bathroom. So um, just try to stay covered up ok?
Hospitality Conversations: The Legacy of Tony Marshall and Insights to Today’s Most Pressing Legal Issues for Hotel Owners and Managers
“I think mistakes are the essence of science and law. It's impossible to conceive of either scientific progress or legal progress without understanding the important role of being wrong and of mistakes.” Alan Dershowitz - American lawyer, jurist, and political commentator.
We launch this year’s Hospitality Conversations™ with a look at the legacy of Dr. Anthony G. Marshall, or simply “Tony” to those of us who were fortunate enough to have worked with him or known him personally. He was hired in 1972 as Professor of Law and Associate Dean at Florida International University in Miami. In 1990, he became Dean of its School of Hospitality Management. While Tony had additional career highlights, it was his semi-monthly article “AT YOUR RISK” in Hotel-Motel Management Magazine and his extensive speaking at association and brand meetings over a 20 year period that helped combat the mistaken belief that hospitality law was dull.
Tony passed away in late 2006 and I felt honored to have been one of three people who spoke at the memorial service 7 years ago this month held on campus at the University of Central Florida where Tony concluded his career. As the industry representative who commented on his contributions to hotel owners, managers and the industry as a whole, I was able to share some of the lessons Tony brought to us about “reasonable care” and his message on better understanding common law negligence. Through his wit and on stage banter, Tony effectively communicated that hoteliers should not fear the law, but do whatever they could to understand and embrace the law.
My career path has included success as an operating hotelier and corporate executive and I now share best practices and proven methods for hotel owners and senior managers in workshops and consulting. I am not an attorney and do not offer legal advice, but I also have the opportunity now to complete research and offer professional services as an expert witness in hotel and hospitality cases.
In both the teaching environment and in working with counsel on hotel cases, I find the wisdom of Tony Marshall remains on target. He taught us that hospitality law continues to evolve and in the absence of a specific statute, that common law and common sense can prevail when hotel owners and managers strive to do the right thing.
Hospitality Conversations™ interact with professionals in a wide range of the industry and this particular conversation is with two individuals who are familiar with both hospitality law and Marshall’s legacy.
These two individuals have exceptional credentials and regularly present a summary of the top 100+ legal cases that impact the hospitality industry the preceding year at the annual HospitalityLawyer.com Law Conference held in Houston, Texas (This year’s dates are 2/10-12). Their credentials also include being recognized for their contributions to the industry with the 2013 Anthony G. Marshall Award, which is given in recognition of pioneering and lasting contributions to the field of hospitality law.
Diana S. Barber, J.D., CHE, is a full-time Lecturer at the School of Hospitality Administration at Georgia State University, Atlanta, Georgia; where she has taught since the summer of 2003. She teaches hospitality law, introductory hospitality and also serves as the Program Director of the School of Hospitality’s Study Abroad program with a European Hospitality Experience to Spain, France, Monaco, Italy and Switzerland.
Additional recognitions and service
- • 2011 Teaching Excellence Award from the J. Mack Robinson College of Business
- • Georgia State University's Study Abroad Program Director of the year for 2011
- • Recipient of the 2010 Hospitality Faculty of the Year award
- • Since 2007, on the editorial board of Hospitality Law monthly newsletter
- • Service as a litigation industry expert
- • Authors a monthly column for the Georgia Hotel & Lodging Association newsletter.
- • Recently inducted into Phi Beta Delta Honor Society for International Scholars.
- • "Of Counsel” with Berman Fink Van Horn, PC, a law firm in Atlanta, Georgia, which is also the general counsel to the GHLA.
She began her law practice as an associate attorney at King & Spalding in Atlanta, Georgia after graduating cum laude from Walter F. George School of Law at Mercer University. She then spent over fourteen years as associate general counsel for The Ritz-Carlton Hotel Company, LLC. She is a member of the State Bar of Georgia, G.A.H.A., and the Georgia Hotel & Lodging Association.
Karen Morris, JD LL.M. is a Judge, Lawyer, Professor and Author. http://judgekaren.com/ She teaches a range of law courses (penal, constitutional, business, environmental and hospitality) both online and traditional classroom and her background with those four roles gives her a wide range of accomplishments:
- • Columnist at Hotel and Motel Management Magazine, "Legally Speaking" since 2007 (which followed the 20+ year “At Your Risk” series from the late Dr. Tony Marshall)
- • Blogger for Cengage Publishing Company
- • Author of the textbook, Hotel, Restaurant and Travel Law
- • Professor with Monroe Community College since 1980 and was the 1st community college professor in the state university system to receive designation of Distinguished Professor (2006)
- • Published in 2011 Law Made Fun through Harry Potter's Adventures
- • UNY Chancellor's Award for Excellence in Teaching, 2002
- • MCC Excellence in Teaching Award, 1994
- • Past President - Faculty Senate; Past President - Northeast Academy of Legal Studies in Business
- • Former Member - Governing Council Faculty Association
- • Faculty Advisor to Hillel; Past Faculty Advisor to Phi Theta Kappa, MCC's Honor Society
- • Former Faculty Advisor to College Democrats Club
- • Guest Speaker to many industry groups
- • Former Assistant District Attorney; Former In-House Counsel for Macy's Department Store
She has also been elected by town residents six times, serving since 1994 as Brighton Town Justice, is the author of numerous precedent-setting decisions, the Administrative Judge for Brighton Town Court and has Adjudicated 75,000 cases
I asked both Diana and Karen two questions I hear regularly in our training programs:
- What would you say have been the biggest changes in hospitality law affecting hotel owners in the past 5 years?
- What would you opine are the two biggest issues hotel managers face in the coming year?
Their responses were focused and to the point.
- • Employment issues remain hot, and as such are a mine field for restaurateurs and hoteliers.
- • Retaliation, discrimination, sexual harassment, overtime pay, failure to check applicants' credentials and references, and arbitration clauses remain the subject of many a lawsuit. ( Hotel owners and managers should) Think prompt and conduct a thorough investigation, followed by appropriate discipline and employee training. This can significantly reduce liability.
- • Another topic that doesn't quit is franchising. The contract between the franchisor and franchisee is critical. A franchisee should study it and consult at length with his/her lawyer and accountant to fully understand the undertaking.
- • Not infrequently, insurance issues surface in lawsuits. As with franchising, the language of the contract is determinative. Hospitality managers are well-advised to employ their lawyer to review contracts of all stripes before signing. This can save many legal problems down the road.
- • Finally, premises liability (negligence) remains a significant cause of lawsuits. Managers cannot for a moment let up their guard when looking for dangerous conditions in and around their facilities.
As for the responses to your questions, I think Karen nailed it.
- • We continue to see employment cases take front and center. I put great weight on this as we only review cases that have gone through the judicial system so we are seeing only the tip of the iceberg. There must be many, many more that get settled or fizzle out long before a court hears the case.
- • Employers must be mindful that they must ALWAYS conduct themselves with fairness and be professional.
- • They must respect all employees and not play favorites.
- • The workplace is not the place to allow one’s true self to emerge, even in a free country. Too much is at stake and businesses and reputations are always at risk. One’s guard should never go down.
- • As with all other cases (premises liability comes to mind), employers must take a proactive stance and steer clear away from potential liabilities. Preventative mindset is key. Not to live in fear about doing the wrong thing; everyone makes mistakes. But the hope is to minimize these mistakes and learn from them.
- • Constant employee training is crucial and should not be cast aside when budgetary times are challenging.
I also asked Karen a 3rd question, as she represented academia in offering comments at the January 2007 memorial service with her insights on the legacy of Tony Marshall. Karen knew Tony professionally and personally, as co-author with the late Norman Cournoyer (of the University of Massachusetts) and Tony of a well regarded text on hospitality law
The 3rd questions was : What Tony Marshall memory might you be willing to share?
Here's one of my favorite Tony stories. One of Tony's many hats was Dean of a Hospitality program at a Florida University. One year at a conference of Hospitality Professors, he addressed the attendees on the topic of "Don't Mow Your Lawn on Friday Afternoon." When this title was detected in the program by conferees, everyone scratched their heads. Turns out he was in fact urging professors to refrain from tending to the grass during the weekend lead-in.
The reason: Many people don't think professors work very hard, and that impression is reinforced if professors are seen as having the leisure time to mow their lawns during, what for most people, are normal business hours. I was very impressed with Tony's attention to detail!
That focus on even the small aspects of an organization is needed to run a lawsuit-free enterprise, whether an educational institution, a hotel or restaurant, or any other type of business. Even though the number of people who specifically remember him diminishes with time, Anthony Marshall left a legacy that continues to positively impact us.
I recall one of his favorite sayings was “You’re a good man (woman), and he’d use your name!”
Thank you for your lessons and wisdom, Tony, and you were a very good man!
Since prehistoric times human beings have moved towards other geographical areas for commercial purposes and exchange, for which they needed shelters to stay with the primary objective of resting. This need gave rise to establishments which were the precursors of hotels.
Rest is a vital human need that replenishes and recharges the human battery. The greater effectiveness of our rest is achieved when we sleep. Sleep is a physiological state of self-regulation and uniform repose of an organism. Although sleep needs vary according to the age, sleep for all human beings represent a vital essential function and human beings cannot live without sleep. Restorative sleep, which repairs the body every day, is complementary and essential to ensure wakefulness and is physiologically necessary.
In many hotels, unfortunately, there is still a tendency to pay more attention to the guests when they are awake than when they are asleep, ignoring the quality of their rest. A rough night’s sleep influences their emotional state which is a determining factor of their behavioral and relational patterns the next day. In my experience guests are more likely to approach best behaviors towards the environment after a good night's sleep and thus facilitate the interaction of hoteliers with them, increasing the degree of relationship and knowledge. This way, we can begin the offering of more services tailored to their needs. This means that the hotels should pay special attention to this need, biological and emotional, in order to get its complete satisfaction in each of the guests.
The Hotel Guest Sleep Experience goes far beyond the type of mattress, bedding fabric quality and types of pillows offered. This is about providing our customers Sleep Stimulating Atmospheres, to help them renew and maintain their physical and emotional well-being. I want to share with you some ideas that we could use to help our guests to reach the realm of mythological God Morpheus:
1- Vision: the lighting influences our biological clock as it is known to inhibit melatonin (sleep hormone) secretion by the pineal gland in the brain, so it is important to consider the intensity of light in the guest's room, as well as its color because according to experts there are colors that invoke a sense of tranquility and ensure a good night's sleep; light blue, spring green or purple lavender colors, are all facilitators of atmospheres of relaxation, tranquility and peace. Type, intensity, and location of the lights for reading also influence our ability to fall asleep. It is proven that the simple act of getting up to turn off a light after reading in bed would stimulate our vigil, then: What if we use reading lights (in different colors) which turns off after a set time according to each guest preference? What if we offer a menu of superb relaxation images through the interactive television system...? 2- Smell, sensory organ, helps us to achieve a good night's sleep. Studies reveal that the smell of a room is a determining factor to get a good sleep and certain aromas induce to sleep, even more than medication, then: What if we spray the pillows and sheets or aromatize the room (according to request) with delicate drops of lavender or jasmine, scents, which, par excellence, induce to get a good sleep? Or if we prepare for her/him lukewarm water for bath with these aroma oils a few moments before the guest is retiring to bed, or if we offer body creams having the same essence? 3- Sound is another powerful activator of our biological clock which, when activated is responsible for us to wake up. Thus, to ensure a good sleep is essential to ensure silent scenarios. However, there are many human beings who need certain sounds to fall asleep. There are sounds that help our body to relax in preparation for a profound sleep. What if we offer a menu of sounds such as rain falling, or birdsong, or the sound of ocean waves, by using the interactive television system? 4- Nutrition: the quality of our night's rest is largely determined by what we eat and drink before going to sleep. There are foods and beverages that induce to sleep since they contain melatonin precursor’s elements such as oats, cherries, corn, red wine, tomatoes, potatoes, nuts, rice and herbal teas based on chamomile, anise or fennel, then: What if we developed a special menu just for having a good sleep?
1- Vision: the lighting influences our biological clock as it is known to inhibit melatonin (sleep hormone) secretion by the pineal gland in the brain, so it is important to consider the intensity of light in the guest's room, as well as its color because according to experts there are colors that invoke a sense of tranquility and ensure a good night's sleep; light blue, spring green or purple lavender colors, are all facilitators of atmospheres of relaxation, tranquility and peace. Type, intensity, and location of the lights for reading also influence our ability to fall asleep. It is proven that the simple act of getting up to turn off a light after reading in bed would stimulate our vigil, then:
What if we use reading lights (in different colors) which turns off after a set time according to each guest preference?
What if we offer a menu of superb relaxation images through the interactive television system...?
2- Smell, sensory organ, helps us to achieve a good night's sleep. Studies reveal that the smell of a room is a determining factor to get a good sleep and certain aromas induce to sleep, even more than medication, then:
What if we spray the pillows and sheets or aromatize the room (according to request) with delicate drops of lavender or jasmine, scents, which, par excellence, induce to get a good sleep?
Or if we prepare for her/him lukewarm water for bath with these aroma oils a few moments before the guest is retiring to bed, or if we offer body creams having the same essence?
3- Sound is another powerful activator of our biological clock which, when activated is responsible for us to wake up. Thus, to ensure a good sleep is essential to ensure silent scenarios. However, there are many human beings who need certain sounds to fall asleep. There are sounds that help our body to relax in preparation for a profound sleep.
What if we offer a menu of sounds such as rain falling, or birdsong, or the sound of ocean waves, by using the interactive television system?
4- Nutrition: the quality of our night's rest is largely determined by what we eat and drink before going to sleep. There are foods and beverages that induce to sleep since they contain melatonin precursor’s elements such as oats, cherries, corn, red wine, tomatoes, potatoes, nuts, rice and herbal teas based on chamomile, anise or fennel, then:
What if we developed a special menu just for having a good sleep?
According to my experience, guests who could most benefit from the advantages of My Sleep Experience are those who come from geographic regions with great difference in time zones, as the jet lag will influence their behavioral patterns, i.e. being awake in the early hours of the morning and retired to rest early in the evening, which will determine the types and frequency of services required.
In summary, My Sleep Experience is a distinctive tool for hotels committed to make guests feel important, valued and above all renewed. So do not forget to ask to each single guest:
Dear Mr./Ms...... How did you sleep?
Some issues in hotel law come and go. Falls in slippery bathtubs have a sticking quality. Liability in this type of lawsuit can be avoided but it takes some attention to those porcelain bastions of cleanliness.
In the typical case a guest is showering, loses his balance and falls. Because floors and walls surrounding showers are customarily rock-hard, injuries are likely to occur and be substantial.
So, who’s at fault? The answer is: it depends. Yes, guests should know that tubs and shower stalls are, by their very nature, slippery and potentially dangerous. And, yes, guests should therefore use caution to protect themselves from injury.
But knowing that shower areas present risks is not a trade secret shared only among guests. Hoteliers are also in the know. That fact imposes on inns a duty to take reasonable steps to prevent foreseeable bathroom mishaps. Those steps include installation and ongoing maintenance of any of the following: non-skid strips on the tub or shower floor, a bathmat, handrails along the walls of the tub for gripping and/or like devices designed to reduce the dangers. Failure to provide, and keep in good form, these simple apparatus deprives the guest of protection against falling, and in many states opens the door, to a founded lawsuit.
Two recent cases underscore these principles. A guest at a Radisson hotel in Bismarck, N.D., slipped and fell out of the shower. The area was not equipped with non-skid strips, a bathmat or handrail. The guest sued; the hotel sought early dismissal claiming it had no duty to provide the referenced devices. Rather, asserted the hotel, the risk of falling in the shower is open and obvious, rendering the guest responsible for his own well-being. The hotel lost the argument with the court refusing to hold that an inn has no duty to provide mechanisms to minimize the dangers of wet and soapy floors. Instead, either the hotel will have to settle the case by paying damages, or a trial will be held and a jury will decide whether the hotel satisfied its duty to maintain the premises in a reasonably safe condition. On this latter point, the hotel is not on steady footing.
In the second case, a guest at the Governor’s Inn in Sevierville, Tenn., fell while exiting a recessed bathtub and sustained serious injuries to her right hip. Like the Radisson case, the Governor’s Inn did not provide any means for bathers to avoid slips. The Inn too sought early dismissal of the case, arguing that it had no duty to provide slip-resistant devices. The outcome was the same. The Inn lost the argument; the court denied early dismissal thus sending the case to settlement or trial.
Not all states follow the rule applied in these two cases. Instead, some states have held that innkeepers owe no duty to use mechanisms to reduce the risk of slick shower floors. Even so, hotels, of course, want their guests to be free from harm. With a relatively small investment of money and time, tumbles in the tub can be avoided.
Originally published on HotelManagement.net.
A one-size-fits-all American-style approach to EEO compliance does not work globally because American laws on discrimination, harassment and diversity are unique in the world. Internationally, though, discrimination and harassment laws vary widely and in many countries diversity is not an issue. These differences complicate the EEO initiatives that American multinationals would otherwise launch globally.
This toolkit will address the broad scope of global discrimination programs. We will also cover two challenging discrimination subtopics, global age discrimination compliance and global pay discrimination compliance. In addition, discuss global initiatives for combating workplace harassment. Finally, we will focus on global workplace initiatives regarding diversity.
To Read More Click Here
Put yourself in this scenario: You are working the front desk alone at a select-service hotel and as fate would have it everything explodes all at once. There are two guests waiting to be checked in, a third guest is seeking directions to a nearby restaurant, the phone is ringing off the hook, you can hear an incoming fax arriving, and yet another guest wants to pay for their purchase from the hotel convenience store. Who do you help first? And in what order do you assist each guest or complete each task?
In today’s world of austere hotel budgets, front desk employees are increasingly being asked to perform more functions and serve more guests with fewer associates to help them shoulder this burden. And while I have always advocated that no employee should ever have the responsibility to work alone in a hotel, there will be occasions at the front desk when there may only be one associate or manager to serve the needs of the hotel’s guests. While this can be a stressful situation, surviving it will require good organization, the ability to multitask, communicating positively with guests, and most significantly, prioritizing each service request. Let’s examine each of these aspects in more detail.
Organize the Front Desk
A well-organized front office enables front desk agents to perform more than one task at a time and in a more streamlined and efficient manner. As a rule of thumb, anything that detracts from efficiency is a “time waster”. Anything that requires additional work to locate or bring about order is also an unnecessary time waster. Time that is wasted is less productive, ultimately more costly, and is less time available to serve the guest. And no one likes to be kept waiting because of inefficient practices.
Realize that the front desk will not always be busy; there will be periods of minimal activity. This is when associates should rotate out for their employee breaks, not during the height of expected activity. Use slack periods to reorganize the desk, refill office supplies, perform bucket checks and credit limit checks, review city ledger accounts and profit and loss statements, pre-print registration cards (if still used), organize group check-in packets, update budgets, restock the hotel’s convenience store or gift shop, gas up the shuttle vans, or restock collateral materials and brochures. Any tool, inventory item, or supply that a front desk clerk might need to do their job must be restocked, maintained or checked now, not later. There is no legitimate excuse to run out of registration cards, folio paper, key cards, staples, pens, or
etcetera when things get busy at the desk. Hold all front desk associates accountable for restocking supplies at the beginning and end of each shift unless busy times prevent this from being accomplished. Do not allow associates to pass the responsibility on to the next shift.
The Ability to Multitask
If you want your employees to perform more than one task at a time when business gets busy it is imperative that you only hire individuals who demonstrate the ability to complete more than one task simultaneously and with an adequate degree of accuracy. Applicants who can only focus on one task at a time or who become distracted to the point of inefficiency are not good hires for the front desk.
Yes, in an ideal situation each front desk clerk would focus exclusively on the task at hand or serve only the guest presented in front of them before engaging in any other activity. Unfortunately, sometimes other aspects can cause disruptions to quality guest service or might be perceived negatively by guests who are present. Think about the phone that will not stop ringing. After a period of time just about everyone wants to pull the phone out of the wall because the noise becomes too distracting. Others might assume that, “That could be me at the other end of the line and no one is willing to answer the phone!” So, while we want to provide our complete and undivided attention to each guest or task, there will be times when, out of need or convenience, performing multiple tasks is appropriate, especially if the other task can be performed quickly or with minimal interaction.
Communicating Positively with Guests
Most guests will understand the circumstances when an employee is by themselves and attempting to serve many people. But this period of empathy will only last for so long before guests become upset and frustrated. The most effective way to keep guests happy and empathetic is to acknowledge them when they arrive and to thank them for waiting. Making eye contact and smiling at waiting guests is the first step to maintaining their empathy. Once you are able to serve them directly don’t forget to thank them for their patience. Never make excuses why the desk is understaffed, just be gracious and calm and make it seem as if this guest is your first priority. Your calmness under pressure will reassure guests and keep them calm and happy.
Prioritize each Service Request
No one likes to be kept waiting but the reality is that someone will have to wait; somebody has to be served first and some will be served afterwards. Prioritizing who you will serve first is critical to maintaining harmony. Removing annoying distractions by answering phones, responding to discourteous guests, or just completing a very brief task that is keeping someone waiting can help preserve the tranquility. When guests realize that what they want from you may take longer than just a brief interaction most will wait patiently in order for you to address the distraction and thereby secure your focused attention on their need.
Maintaining preprinted materials at the front desk such as area maps, lists of local restaurants, driving directions to restaurants and nearby attractions, fax cover sheets, hotel brochures, and job applications can help minimize these distractions because they can be quickly handed to guests as needed and usually do not require extensive conversation. For this very reason, many hotels, including various Marriott brands, have started installing interactive information boards in their lobby where guests can view maps, check the local weather, learn about nearby attractions, and more.
It seems logical to serve guests in the order which they arrive at the front desk, especially for check-in and check-out situations. But what happens when the phone rings while you are serving another guest? Should you answer it or just let it keep ringing? It is best to answer the phone but ask the guest if they can hold or if you may call them back. Always advise the caller that you are assisting another guest but that you will assist them as soon as you are available. Never place a call on hold without a guest’s consent because, unlike a face to face encounter, it is impossible to ascertain if a guest may be in distress and need immediate assistance. If you know that the caller will have to hold for more than one or two minutes always advise them of this in advance and offer to call them back. And don’t forget to write down
their name and room number or telephone number.
As a general rule, always attend to guests that are present at the front desk first, then answer telephone calls that are holding or place call backs. Deal with faxes, package deliveries and other paperwork next. And don’t forget to restock the front desk and keep it clean and organized.