There should be no such thing as “limited service” in hotels or hospitality

In the guides published by the American Automobile Association, there are a number of classifications for lodging types.  By AAA definition, they include general descriptions of differing levels of food/beverage outlets, shops, conference/meeting facilities, ranges of recreation, entertainment options.  The descriptions give an overview of size of the properties and an overview of common characteristics.

In general their range of classifications include:

  • Full Service,  with Resorts and Hotels  in this category.
  • Limited Service include Condominiums, Motor Inns, Apartments, Cottage, Motels and Bed and Breakfasts
  • Moderate Service listings include Ranches, Country Inns and Lodges.
  • Further sub-classifications include: Suite, extended stay, historic and classic properties.

We are certainly not trying to challenge AAA overviews, as their intent is to provide meaningful interpretations of so many kinds of options. Their guides further point out the basis of their various diamond ratings.  AAA has done a commendable job trying to explain the differences to the consumer and they do so substantially in product differentiation.

A major problem comes though, in our opinion , in the phrase  “limited service” versus “full service”.  Full service usually implies those hotels with restaurants, lounges,  meeting rooms and other product amenities.

The phrase “lodge” or “bed and breakfast” implies by name alone certain things to certain travelers, yet obviously these phrases alone do not mean enough. For example, by AAA definitions, bed and breakfast establishments are “usually smaller, owner operated establishment emphasizing an “away-from-home feeling”.  A continental or full, hot breakfast is included.

Many ROOMS ONLY establishments also serve breakfast and many have at least smaller meeting space, ranging from suites to meeting areas,  breakfast rooms, etc.  They have van drivers who act as bellman. They have management team members who are outstanding hosts and hoteliers.

Former AH&LA Small Business Specialist Jerrold Boyer used to become very frustrated with managers who embraced the term “limited service.”  He used to remind hoteliers at educational and advisory seminars that the hospitality industry is indeed the SERVICE industry.  His word of caution was that bigger did not necessarily mean better, nor did smaller automatically mean lesser.

There are many smaller, rooms-only properties that offer exceptional personalized attentiveness to their guests.  It is the responsibility of the managers, owners and sales staff of those facilities to “sell” their staff and guests of the quality and extent of their service.  There are many guests  who might prefer smaller properties and staffs who elect to leave food operations to others.

If this industry is to continue to provide exceptional experiences for its guests and meaningful careers for its’ staff, it must be attentive to its commitment to hospitality and not just “renting rooms.”

“Limited service” – let’s leave that image for the self-serve gas stations.

Check http://www.hospitalityeducators.com for more ideas!

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

Blog of Dr. John Hogan CHE CHA MHS 8.14.2010        

 www.HospitalityEducators.com, http://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.

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

Share Best Practices on Engaging the “high-touch” side of our business #2

The full title of the previous blog reinforced the emphasis of the series : Engaging the “high-touch” side of our business by instilling passion in our people and I appreciate reader response and feedback.   Segment 1 introduced an understanding of a genuine need for the hospitality industry to provide a unique experience or face the potential consequences of our hotel, restaurant, retail service or attraction being viewed as very ordinary or in other words, a commodity.

This second segment of the series further defines the experience of today, whether you are an independent hotel or brand affiliated.  In segment one, I shared some insights from Tennessee hotelier Johnny Walker of Nashville. He has been actively engaged in the hospitality industry for more than 35 years and is one of the region’s most experienced tour operators.  As a hotel owner/operator with multiple brands, he offered a number of ideas he felt were important for hotel managers today, including the message that “every room rental/stay must be viewed as an experience”

In a number of interactive workshops over the past two years, I have focused on identifying ways to  encourage hotel general managers and their staffs to think about the “guest experience” and how we might build that commitment of “high touch” into the mindset of every employee for every guest.

Recognizing the danger of becoming a “Commodity”, and seeking specific ways to avoid becoming ordinary, I focused on three areas in these workshops and am pleased to share some best practices from managers and owners of both branded and independent properties.

The first topic discussed is one that every guest experiences, regardless of hotel location,  room rate or level of service:  SLEEPING

These workshops were held across North America and participants had wonderful ideas and best practices of how to make the “sleeping” experience positive, memorable and unique.  The best ideas I heard included addressing all five of the human senses

  1. Sight – the guest room and the bed must be inviting.  This means neatly prepared beds, using pillows as décor and a sense of freshness to the eye as one enters the room.
  2. Smell – the fragrance discussion in hospitality is not new.  We all likely have fond memories of entering a bakery or a certain restaurant, yet too many hotels do not address this sensation.  Care must be taken in cleaning products used, and there are packaged scents available that can be subtly present in the guest room, which enhances the overnight experience of sleep.
  3. Sound – Rooms must be reasonably constructed or designed to block out street noise or external sound, as well as addressing the sounds of ice machines and elevators.  Suggestions by attendees included ways to identify and then deal with those noises.  A number of properties today include a CD player (with brand or hotel provided CDs)  and/or a higher quality radio that offers additional calming effects conducive for sleeping
  4. Taste – the general manager’s reception, fresh popcorn in the lobby, homemade cookies or other treats can be positive interactions for guests as they retire to their rooms. These can reinforce situations they have at home, and therefore find positive when traveling.
  5. Touch – as in #1 Sight above, the guest room and bedding must be inviting.  Well maintained, comfortable bed coverings with quality linens complete the five senses for a guest who is on the road every week or for those who travel only on vacations.

Participants who shared these observations also commented that the entire housekeeping and front office teams must be part of understanding that delivery of a good’s night’s sleep means each member of the staff contributing their own personal touches, smiles and appreciation of the individual guest staying at their hotel.

The next two segments of this blog will share best practices on breakfast and staff responsiveness to a guest’s concern or complaint.

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

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.

Keys to Success Hospitality Tip : Focus on Hotel Marketing

Keys to Success Hospitality Tip :   Focus on Hotel Marketing

Review and update your hotel web site THIS WEEK, whether you are branded or independent. You must keep your information, photographs and other details fresh and current!  Schedule this essential task for review every other week on a calendar and assign someone responsible to monitor it.