A simple and often overlooked way to increase business

Are you working to increase the group and/or convention business at your hotel?

Not every group limits their hotel usage to large convention hotels and in fact, many larger groups look to offer a range of property types, amenities and pricing options.  Smaller groups often elect to choose different types of properties as they work to build or maintain attendance.

Put yourself in the shoes of a meeting planner who has (in all probability) not ever been to your hotel before unless you are the major hotel connected to a large convention center.  These meeting professionals are just as busy as hoteliers are and they have their share of challenges in budgets, programs, marketing campaigns and people issues.

They can look at emails, brochures and photographs on your web site, but if they cannot make a personal site inspection, they must trust either their own professional instincts and/or other people’s experience to make the decision on whether or not to consider your hotel.

Meeting planners and travel agents have learned one way to compare the proverbial “apple to apple” when seeking sites for their clients’ meetings and conventions is to have a hotel RFP completed and submitted by properties being considered.  The RFP (Request for Proposal) is well known to larger hotels, but the concept and information included in these documents can have a positive impact on hotels of all sizes.

Even if your property does not regularly receive these RFPs, the fact that you have in essence what is an organized and concise “fact sheet” will add a certain degree of professionalism to any presentations you make.  A potential client considering your hotel will recognize that you understand both sides of the booking agreement and will likely have a positive impression, including when they obtain this information by email or from your web site.

Consider the following elements of a detailed RFP as a guide as you develop your own fact sheet:

  1. General information (One would be surprised at how many people omit some of this important data.)
  • (a) Full property name,  physical address (not PO Box), local and toll free phone numbers, direct numbers to sales if appropriate, web address and email contacts
  • (b) Brand or chain affiliation, if appropriate. This could also include a membership or group referral affiliation.
  • (c) Distance to convention center and/or downtown and/or airport and/or attractions, etc (the important centers in your location)
  • (d) Total number of rooms and suites in your hotel

Contacts

  • (a)  Principal meetings or group contact at hotel
  • (b)  Director of Sales
  • (c)  Reservations Manager (or front office manager in smaller hotels)
  • (d)  General Manager
  • (e)  Brand, chain, referral service or management company (if appropriate)

General Rate Information (This advises the potential client of the value you place on their business and some details of your revenue management practices, i.e. your high and low seasons)  List all rates in both single and double rates if appropriate

  • (a) Standard (rack) rates
  • (b) Standard corporate rates
  • (c) Validity date policy (early check-in/late check-out rooms)
  • (d) Commissions paid, tax obligations
  • (e) Any value-added – is breakfast included? (if not, identify the cost of breakfast options)

Safety and Security (Do not let this be a negative factor. The fact that you detail your awareness highlights your overall commitment to quality and the concern you have for the safety and well-being of your guest and staff).                Be specific.

  • (a) Number of floors
  • (b) Year hotel was built
  • (c) Details on most recent major renovations or upgrades
  • (d) Security provisions in guest rooms (in room safes, special services, women’s only floors, your special touches, etc)
  • (e) Smoke alarms, in guest and public areas
  • (f)   Sprinklers in guest and public areas
  • (g) Details on handicap accessibility in all areas
  • (h) Details on automatic links to fire and/or police departments
  • (i)    Overviews on hotel safety and security training provided to staff
  • (j)   Overview on security in entire facility
  • (k) Nearest medical centers or hospitals

Hotel Services and Facilities (If your hotel has limited in house services, it is essential to identify services and facilities adjacent to or near your hotel)

  • (a) Restaurant(s) – this should include name, type of food offerings (ethnic, seafood/steak, casual dining, etc)
  • (b) Room service and general hours
  • (c) Parking facilities and charges
  • (d) Van/shuttle service, destinations, hours and charges
  • (e) Entertainment in hotel and in guest rooms (pool, exercise room, in room movies, etc.
  • (f)   Nearby facilities – golf, tennis, massage, shopping
  • (g) Unique features of your hotel – historical significance, adjacent to museum, cultural center, etc.

Consistent use of this kind of fact sheet can bring competent sales managers more focus and business, because they share specifically more about their hotel and its strengths than many of their competitors.

Keys to Success Hospitality Tip of the Week:Focus on Solid Communication

Be as detailed as possible when communicating with all parties.  In this age of instant information, there is no second chance for that first impression.

KEYS TO SUCCESS is the umbrella title for my 2010 programs, hospitality services and columns. This year’s writings will focus on a wide variety of topics for hotel owners, managers and professionals including both my “HOW TO” articles and HOSPITALITY CONVERSATIONS. My segments Lessons from the Field, Hotel Common Sense and Principles for Success will be featured at appropriate times in the year as well.

Feel free to share an idea for a column at info@hoganhospitality.com anytime or contact me regarding consulting, customized workshops, speaking engagements … And remember – we all need a regular dose of common sense.

John Hogan is a successful hospitality executive, educator, author and consultant and is a frequent keynote speaker and seminar leader at many hospitality industry events.  He is Co-Founder of a consortium (www.HospitalityEducators.com) of successful corporate and academic professionals delivering focused and affordable counsel in solving specific challenges facing hospitality today.

www.HospitalityEducators.com is a membership site offering a wide range of information, forms, best practices and ideas that are designed to help individual hoteliers and hospitality businesses improve their market penetration, deliver service excellence and increase their profitability.   Special introductory pricing is in effect for a limited time that also includes a complimentary copy of LESSONS FROM THE FIELD- A COMMON SENSE APPROACH TO EFFECTIVE HOTEL SALES.


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One of the most comprehensive and meaningful service codes ever introduced in hospitality

This  series on the “high-touch” side of hospitality has prompted positive reader feedback and ideas from hoteliers and managers who have participated in some of my workshops idea

·         Segment 1 underscored the need for hospitality businesses to deliver unique experience to avoid being viewed as a commodity.

·         Segment 2 focused on identifying ways to encourage hotel staffs to think about the “guest experience” , whether you are an independent hotel or brand affiliated  It offered concrete examples ways to avoid being seen as ordinary or a “commodity” in the critical guest service of SLEEP

·         Segment 3 examined the essential topic of significant value to hotel guests everywhere: BREAKFAST.

·         Segment 4 generated the most reader feedback, with general agreement that calming “an angry customer” gives hotels the chance to win loyalty be demonstrating sincere concern.

No one is proposing that we want to annoy guests, but  there is agreement that a “satisfied” guest is probably not thinking a hotel is very special and that  an “adequate” stay does not likely build loyalty or repeat visits.  Hotels of today must anticipate problem areas and respond immediately when one arises.  This means that hotel owners and managers must allow and insist that their staffs do whatever it takes to meet the customers’ needs and a  number of individual properties, brands and chains have worked to refine their staff responsiveness to these guest annoyances.

In the last column, I promised I would share one of the most comprehensive and meaningful service codes ever introduced. An unusual and perhaps unexpected fact about this service code is that it premiered almost a century ago by one of the most successful hoteliers of all time.

Elsworth Statler has been described and considered one of the most innovative and creative of hoteliers of all time.  He is credited with many of the practices and construction methods that became industry standards.

It was in Buffalo in 1908 that Elsworth Statler, (born into poverty in a West Virginia mining center during the American Civil War), began paying real attention to details that would become trademarks of his genius.  In a 300-room hotel, he was the first to provide a bathroom in each room, which had been unheard of that time.  Rather than force guests that were strangers to share common baths down the hall, he modified the construction practice to build rooms “back-to-back”.   This practice was then able to use common electrical conduit and plumbing shafts (later known as the Statler plumbing shaft), making the bathroom a basic part of every Statler hotel and within a decade in many of the hotels in the industry.

The Buffalo Statler introduced other innovations that evolved into standards at many hotels, including circulating ice water in every room, which was important in the pre-air conditioning heat in many cities,  telephones in every room, a full size closet in every room, lights in every closet and a hook by the mirror in each bathroom that encouraged guests to reuse their towel, thereby saving laundry costs.

Statler understood success was a combination of operations and marketing.  He was perceptive in paying attention to building revenues and anticipated the expansion of conventions and meetings business.  Guest rooms were not decorated in a “cookie cutter” style, but were with the proper balance of colors and design so that bedspreads, draperies and rugs could be interchanged from room to room if need be.

In addition to the physical amenities he stressed and introduced, he recognized that guests had to feel appreciated.   To emphasize his commitment, Statler introduced what he called the STATLER SERVICE CODE.

Statler Service Code

  • It is the business of a good hotel to cater to the public. It is the avowed business of the Hotel Statler to please the public better than any other hotel in the world.
  • Have everyone feel that for his money we want to give him more sincere service than he ever before received at any hotel.
  • Never be perky, pungent or fresh. The guest pays your salary as well as mine. He is your immediate benefactor.
  • Hotel service, that is, Hotel Statler service, means the limit of courteous, efficient attention from each particular employee to each particular guest. It is the object of the Hotel Statler to sell its guest the best service in the world.
  • No employee of this hotel is allowed the privilege of arguing any point with a guest. He must adjust the matter at once to the guest’s satisfaction or call his superior to adjust it. Wrangling has no place in Hotel Statler.
  • In all minor discussions between Statler employees and guests the employee is dead wrong, from the guest’s point of view and from ours.
  • Any Statler employee who is wise and discrete enough to merit tips is wise and discrete enough to render like service whether he is tipped or not.
  • Any Statler employee who fails to give service or who fails to thank the guest who gives him something falls short of Statler standards.

I updated this Service Code and have used it successfully in training programs and operations.  If readers would like a copy of this version in PowerPoint, please send a request for it to john.hogan@hospitalityeducators.com . I can also share with you an amusing  example of teamwork in delivering memorable and personalized customer service in a commercial from SN Brussels Airlines  in you tube format .  http://www.hospitalityeducators.com/articles/20100708

“Life is service. The one who progresses is the one who gives his fellow human being a little more, a little better service.” Elsworth Statler

Feedback or ideas for future pieces are welcome -contact me at info@HoganHospitality.com

Blog of Dr. John Hogan CHE CHA MHS 8.11.2010             www.HospitalityEducators.com

www.HoganHospitality.com

John Hogan is a successful hospitality executive, educator, author and consultant and is a frequent keynote speaker and seminar leader at many hospitality industry events.  He is Co-Founder of a consortium (www.HospitalityEducators.com) of successful corporate and academic mentors delivering focused and affordable counsel in solving specific challenges facing the hospitality industry. www.HospitalityEducators.com is a membership site offering a wide range of information, forms, best practices and ideas that are designed to help individual hoteliers and hospitality businesses improve their market penetration, deliver service excellence and increase their profitability.   Special introductory pricing is in effect for a limited time that also includes a complimentary copy of LESSONS FROM THE FIELD- A COMMON SENSE APPROACH TO EFFECTIVE HOTEL SALES.  If readers would like to contribute to the site, please submit your material for consideration to Kathleen@hospitalityeducators.com.  We are interested in expanding our global networks and resources as we support our membership.

Keys to Success Hospitality Tip: Breakfast Best Practices on Engaging the “high-touch” side of our business #3

Blog of Dr. John Hogan CHE CHA MHS August 5, 2010

The full title of this series is Engaging the “high-touch” side of our business by instilling passion in our people and reader comments and feedback on the first two segments has been positive.   Segment 1 emphasized the authentic requirement for hospitality businesses to provide a unique experience or face the probable penalty of being viewed as a commodity.

Segment 2 defined in some detail the experience of today, whether you are an independent hotel or brand affiliated.   It also focused on identifying ways to encourage hotel general managers and their staffs to think about the “guest experience” and offered concrete examples from workshop attendees’ ideas on ways to avoid being seen as ordinary or a “commodity” in the area every guest experiences, regardless of hotel location,  room rate or level of service:  SLEEPING. Practical ideas addressing all five of the human senses were shared.

This segment examines another area that I have written on previously and that is of considerable significance to hotel guests everywhere: BREAKFAST.[1] I am recapping feedback and suggestions from hoteliers and restaurant managers who participated in some of my workshops.

FULL SERVICE HOTELS

  1. The competition from the Rooms Only Hotels in your marketplace is increasing and many of the mid scale chains provide complimentary breakfast. Providing an exceptional breakfast offering that makes potential guests decide to select your property is important.
  2. Breakfast is a chance to shine, as more guests and salespeople are viewing breakfast as an ideal time to “do” business, as well as the guests who are looking to start their day on a positive note. Hotel restaurants are frequently busier at breakfast than at other meals, unless your hotel is an upscale property with a high demand for business lunches. Shouldn’t your sales team show a restaurant that appears to be well used and popular?
  3. Time spent at breakfast is viewed by many as more useful than other meals, because all participants view this as a time for productive business for all parties. There is less likely to be quite as much warm-up banter, as everyone wants to get down to business.
  4. Breakfast at full service restaurants remains a best value, when compared to other meals. In challenging economies, this can be a deciding factor for hotel selection.

ROOMS ONLY HOTELS

  1. Many rooms’ only properties offer very attractive continental breakfasts. Managers and sales team can impress potential clients with a breakfast presentation that will be part of their guests’ stay.
  2. While many brands have clear guidelines, extra efforts in breakfast offerings have demonstrated returns for operators and satisfaction for guests.
  3. Remember that McDonalds’, Wendy’s, Subway and many other fast food restaurants recognized the value of breakfast in the last 5 to 15 years and turned formerly closed hours into periods of substantial profitability by meeting the needs of people who were looking for a quick, perceived value option for breakfast. For many family restaurants such as Denny’s or International House of Pancakes, breakfast remains their highest and most profitable volume period.

Participants who shared these observations also commented on several other high touch points in both full service and rooms only properties:

  1. Breakfast is the ideal time to interact with guests.  General Managers can learn a great deal about the guest experience by chatting with guests and active listening.
  2. Sales staff can make excellent contacts at breakfast.
  3. Menus and food offerings should change, either with the season or by some other plan.  Regular guests appreciate the basics, but also value some variety.  Rotating decorations that complement food specials does not need cost a great deal, and the variety can motivate the staff as well.

The next segment of this blog topic will share best practices on staff responsiveness to a guest’s concern or complaint, which can decide a guest’s satisfaction and loyalty.

Feedback or ideas for future pieces are welcome -contact me at info@HoganHospitality.com

Blog of Dr. John Hogan CHE CHA MHS 8.5.2010         HospitalityEducators.com, HoganHospitality.com

John Hogan is a successful hospitality executive, educator, author and consultant and is a frequent keynote speaker and seminar leader at many hospitality industry events.  He is Co-Founder of a consortium (www.HospitalityEducators.com) of successful corporate and academic mentors delivering focused and affordable counsel in solving specific challenges facing the hospitality industry. www.HospitalityEducators.com is a membership site offering a wide range of information, forms, best practices and ideas that are designed to help individual hoteliers and hospitality businesses improve their market penetration, deliver service excellence and increase their profitability.


[1] Principles for success – Understanding the Value and Power of Breakfast (two part series) and A Baker’s Dozen of Strategies for Hotel Restaurant Managers

Keys to Success Hospitality Tip: Focus on engaging the “high-touch” side of our business by instilling passion in our people #1

How often have we heard the expression that “Life is a journey.”?

Global authors and writers have noted that that travel is one of humankind’s most enduring symbols of freedom and ability to enjoy life.  The concept of travel is inbred into the human experience, and we as hoteliers need to be proactive in how we deliver that experience to each one of our guests.

In these times of continuing uncertainty in the cycles of the slow rebuilding of global economies, oil spills, seemingly illogical stock market responses to speculative stories and more, we as hoteliers and the travel industry need to maintain the uniqueness of our services, regardless of our style or location of hotel.

Travel and tourism is the number one industry of many countries of the world and considered the largest service sector export for the United States.  It is one of the largest employers, developing workers at all levels and areas of expertise.  We have all heard the statistics on the millions of jobs, the billions in payroll income and the substantial contributions to governments everywhere as communities of all sizes benefit as well with significant tax revenues for federal, state, and local governments.

Today’s every day reality is one that interacts with so many people, always seemingly in a hurry to get somewhere else.  Time becomes even more precious, yet we run the risk of becoming a commodity or every day common product if care is not exercised.

I became fascinated with the hospitality industry at the age of 15 at what was then a tired Vermont resort, but the appeal of the industry was magnetic because of the very special personal interaction between guest and host (innkeeper, general manager, owner or whatever the title).  Even though the hotel was “a bit worn” and travel trends were changing, there remained an excitement about actually providing a unique experience.

This is the initial article in a series that will focus in short segments about how to deliver that experience today, whether you are an independent hotel or brand affiliated.  One of the clients I served was interested in this topic and for those programs I reached out for some additional insight to someone I knew from the 17 years I proudly spent as a Tennessee hotelier. Johnny Walker of Nashville has been involved in the hospitality industry his entire career. Johnny Walker Tours is probably Nashville‘s most experienced tour operator, dealing with various  riverboat and music festival packages, guide services, reunions, group business and much more.  He also has a number of hotels and brands and served at one time as the CHOICE Hotel Owners Council President.  Johnny and I are long time associates in the years we overlapped, as we served together on a number of industry councils, commissions and hotel association boards.  When asked, Johnny shared three goals with me that he felt were important for the program I was preparing:

  1. the message that “every room rental/stay must be viewed as an experience”
  2. to explore practical ways to motivate the staff that delivers hotel services
  3. we must all recognize that while we are in an electronic age at the ownership and management level, the front line staff delivering the services may not be or the guests may prefer the personal touch

The program content evolved into four objectives:

  1. To understand and define the Experience Economy
  2. To encourage hotel general managers and their staffs to think about the “guest experience” and how it needs to be built into the mindset of every hotel associate for every guest.
  3. To recognize the danger of  becoming a “Commodity”, and ways to avoid becoming  ordinary
  4. To provide attendees with the opportunity to interact with each other on ways to immediately address challenges at their hotels.

The program featured attendees sharing specific examples of products that are commonplace today that avoided becoming commodities and contrasting them with others that have fallen into disfavor because of a lack of delivery of quality experience.

These attendee-inspired sessions moved quickly into the hospitality/lodging world and identified the “guest experience” of today’s guest in three areas:

  1. breakfast
  2. sleeping and
  3. staff responsiveness

Discussion on clear differences between products and services were held and recognition of what we are really trying to do was the outcome.   In the next blog, I will share specific examples and insights on how we might engage our associates on the “high touch “ side of hospitality.

Blog of Dr. John Hogan CHE CHA MHS  7.29.10                                               HospitalityEducators.com , HoganHospitality.com

John Hogan is a successful hospitality executive, educator, author and consultant and is a frequent keynote speaker and seminar leader at many hospitality industry events.  He is Co-Founder of a consortium (www.HospitalityEducators.com ) of successful corporate and academic mentors delivering focused and affordable counsel in solving specific challenges facing the hospitality industry.   Services are designed to help individual hoteliers and hospitality businesses improve their market penetration, deliver service excellence and increase their profitability.