A Little Kindness Goes a Long Way: Show Those Road Warriors Some Love!

The positive energy at the Hampton Exploratorium in Orlando on April 1 said it all. These GMs have quality assurance at the top of their list. Corporate travelers can expect warm greetings, helpful hints, and above all, clean and well-functioning rooms. Read on for how you too can properly pamper business clientele.

When corporate travelers walk into your lobby, they’ve likely taken planes, trains, and automobiles to get there. Welcome them with a little TLC.

Why go the extra mile to pamper your business clientele? Because happy guests become highly committed. And highly-committed guests are good for your reputation and your bottom line:

How do you turn corporate travelers into highly-committed guests?

Tips to Make Business Travelers Feel at Home
(Illustrated by true tales from actual business travelers)

1. Prepare a warm welcome and a clean room.


“I took my personal car, then the subway, bus, plane, and rental car–and many hours–to get to the hotel. I finally got to my room to find…mildew on the bathroom ceiling! I switched rooms twice and nobody apologized.”


Business guests often arrive tired and yes, cranky. Unlike leisure travelers, road warriors still have plenty of work ahead. Brief your front desk often, and well–a sympathetic greeting goes a long way. Give guests the room they request whenever possible. Offer a complementary bottle of water from the gift shop. Make sure their sigh upon entering the room is happy relief. Rely on hotel ServicePro checklists and scheduling to keep rooms sparkling.

2. Prepare directional cards and other helpful aids to guide guests during
their stay.


“I asked the hotel’s front desk clerk (in a seafood state) if he knew a good local seafood place for dinner. He replied, ‘Not really.’”


You need a list of places to eat, drink, run, and stroll. Where can guests get a haircut? Fill a prescription? Even in this age of mobile search, guests appreciate a printed card with an address to plug into Google Maps.

3. Make sure your rooms promote a good night’s rest–we all need one to do our best.


“I got back to my room at 11 pm, got into bed, and rolled downhill. The air adjuster on my comfort mattress was broken. I was rolling off the bed all night. And the air conditioner hummed like a motorboat.”


Spend a relatively small amount on hotel ServicePro to make sure the HVAC–and the entire property–is regularly inspected, maintained, and promptly repaired.

When are your amenities more than just a convenience? When guests count on them for business! Are the room irons clean and functional? Is Wi-Fi up and running? Enter it all in hotel ServicePro so your staff can keep a regular checklist.

4. Last, but not least: serve great coffee!


“This hotel had really good coffee in the room. OK, I can forgive a lot when I’ve had a good cup of coffee.”


Enough said!

Speaking of business travel, I’ll be in Memphis on May 4-6 for BITAC Tech & Operations. If you see me, let me know how you’re preparing for summer leisure travelers. Next month, I’ll list my top recommendations for making the most of the summer leisure travel season.

 

Until then, it’s time for barbeque and Elvis!

Bill

 

Posted in Misc | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Rising Rates and Spring Cleaning!

The InterContinental Montreal–site of the IHG Owners Association Canada Committee Meeting–beautifully blends the historic with luxury state-of-the-art. We had dinner in an underground stone vaults used to store gun powder during the French-British Wars. The dinner conversation among hotel owner/operators? Rising RevPAR and raising rates.

Better than the first sighting of daffodils on an early spring morning? Heartwarming hospitality industry performance stats continue to roll in
from 2013.

According to The Highland Group:

  • RevPAR hit an all-time nominal high of $60.66 for US extended stay hotels during 2013.
  • Upscale and mid-price segments each set new annual RevPAR highs. Highland expects the economy sector to reach record levels in 2014.
  • Extended-stay rooms under construction grew by 45% during 2013. Room supply growth should increase for the foreseeable future.

And 2014 is looking good so far, too. Our friends at Smith Travel Research report across-the-board RevPAR increases during February:

  • The economy segment led the way with 7-9% increases.
  • Upper-upscale, upscale, upper-midscale and midscale segments posted gains of 6-8%.
  • The luxury segment saw a 5-7% jump in RevPAR.

This economic warming trend can mean only one thing - time for
spring cleaning!

Planning to raise room rates and generate your own upswing in RevPAR?
If so, a squeaky clean, well-maintained property is a must!

Guests are much more likely to weather a rate increase with a sunny smile if they get great service and a sparkling room where everything functions smoothly. That’s where hotel ServicePro can help. Use our system to keep on top of guest requests. Create and respond to work orders as quickly as possible. Conduct regular inspections to make sure everything is in tip-top shape.

Prices for mobile devices are at an all-time low–about the same cost as a hotel room. Take advantage and set up your success cycle: Install hotel ServicePro on your handheld devices, keep your property and service up to par, avoid just one guest refund request, and you’ve paid for a device.

Last – but certainly not least – deep clean every room on at least a
quarterly basis.

You know the drill–clean under the bed, flip the mattress, wash the draperies, shampoo the carpets. The list goes on… And keeping track of it is easy with hotel ServicePro’s deep cleaning reminders and scheduling. The system makes cleaning and post-scrub inspections a routine part of housekeeping’s schedule.

With that in mind, I consulted an esteemed Quality Assurance Expert to bring you…

 The Top 10 Tips for Spring Cleaning Guestrooms

  1. Run a 1:2 vinegar-to-water mixture through guest room coffee makers to remove stains and build up. Then run clean water through the machine for a thorough rinse.
  2. Use an inexpensive disposable electric toothbrush to clean shower grout.
  3. Use melamine foam (magic eraser) and an all-purpose cleaner to make tub bottoms shine like new.
  4. Use “My Little Steamer” to remove build up from glass shower doors and mirrors.
  5. Use canned compressed air to remove crumbs from the cracks in furniture. Store properly; this is a combustible!
  6. Use rubbing alcohol to remove hairspray from mirrors and clean remote controls.
  7. Use an inexpensive paint brush to dust HVAC vents and exhaust fans in bathrooms.
  8. Use “Grout Sensation” to clean discolored bathroom floor grout.
  9. Check to see that first aid kits are properly stocked and up to date.
  10. Spring clean your office. Remove all outdated paper, clean binders, update brand standard notebooks. Or…order hotel ServicePro to skip this step, and
    save time!

Corporate travel is about to jump into full swing and I’ll be right in there with my fellow road warriors. Look for me at the Hunter Hotel Investment Conference this week (Atlanta), the Hampton Exploratorium on April 1 (Orlando), and back in Atlanta for the IHG Owner Summit on April 3.

How does your property make corporate travelers feel welcome and well cared for? Catch me on the road or comment below. Then stay tuned next month for tips on pampering your corporate guests so they keep coming back for more.

Happy Spring!
Bill

Posted in Misc | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Go for the Gold: Score a 10 Out of 10 at Your Grand Opening!

Did you know that New York City alone has 23,496 new hotel rooms planned or under construction? That represents more than 21% of the city’s current supply, according to STR. NYC leads the way in our industry’s nationwide
construction boom.

What do Sochi–site of the 2014 Winter Olympics–and the U.S. hospitality industry have in common? A ground-up hotel construction boom!

The world watched Sochi’s mad scramble to add tens of thousands of new hotel rooms to accommodate the winter games.

Now, Smith Travel Research is predicting:

  • 626 new hotels will open in the United States this year
  • 1,315 more US hotels will open in 2015
  • The upper-midscale segment is most active, with 1,027 hotels in the total active pipeline as of December 2013
  • The upscale segment is next active, with 716 hotels in the pipeline
Behold, a viral Internet Sochi hotel sensation–not to mention an instructive example for our own U.S. hotel construction boom. Conduct a thorough preopening inspection. hotel ServicePro makes it easy…and helps keep the
media buzz positive!

How can you ensure that your grand opening is a sensation (in a good way)?

Follow these three pointers to get on track during the preopening process:

1. Get a plan in place as soon as you hire your management team–about 90 days before opening.
At this point, you may still be in an onsite construction trailer. But now is the time to bring in hotel ServicePro hotel maintenance and service software. That way, your chief engineer, executive housekeeper, and operations manager can keep ahead of the game as equipment starts to roll in.

2. Get a jump on a well-run property the minute new equipment hits your doorstep.
Here come the PTAC and rooftop units, washers and dryers, and kitchen equipment! As they arrive, log all the vitals–serial number, model number, warranty information, manufacturers’ maintenance instructions–into hotel ServicePro. Set up a regular, recurring maintenance schedule before your property opens. You’ll get the maximum life out of your assets because you started at ground zero.

3. Conduct a meticulous preopening inspection.
Create a detailed checklist in hotel ServicePro and send your team to every room, as well as all public and back-of-house areas. Don’t forget the pool, lighting, landscaping, and other exterior features. When the brand inspector arrives, you’ll pass with flying colors.

Those notoriously demanding preopening brand inspections? No sweat! You’ve already dotted your “i”s and crossed every “t” using a comprehensive property checklist on hotel ServicePro.

 Counterintuitive though it may seem with the winter we’ve been having, I’m headed north! Hope to see you at the 2014 IHG Owners Conference February 25-26 in Montreal. It’s a beautiful city any time of the year. It’s also a great place to kick off a year of innovation and new features for hotel ServicePro. If construction is on your agenda, let’s talk…or leave a comment below.

Meanwhile, stay warm—it’s exactly 1 month ’til the official start of spring.

Bill

Posted in Misc | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Pop the Corks: It’s Time to Toast Increased Revenues
and Innovation!

BITAC 2013 at The Breakers Palm Beach, lit up for the holidays. Devastating fire struck twice at the historic resort before its third opening in 1926. Now, there’s not a scuff mark to be seen at this beautiful hotel. Resolve to keep your own property up to par in 2014 with hotel ServicePro’s new, user-friendly enhancements.

Could the New Year get off to a better start?

Forecasters predict that the hospitality industry is in for three years of healthy growth, according to Hotel Management magazine.

Just how optimistic should property owners and operators be? Let’s gaze into the crystal ball:

  • Double-digit growth in net operating income for U.S. hotels through 2015, according to PFK Hospitality Research.
  • Also from PFK: increased property values due to improved profits.
  • About 6% growth in RevPAR in 2014, according to both PwC Hospitality Directions and Smith Travel Research, Inc.

Prepare to get your game on. The improving economic outlook means property owners will expect higher profits in 2014, industry gurus told Hotel Management. Just in time to help exceed expectations, we debut an even more streamlined, efficient hotel ServicePro.

That’s music to our ears at hotel ServicePro. Forget dreary diets. Our New Year’s resolution is something to really get excited about. We plan to spend 2014 rolling out numerous product enhancements.

We’re about to bring you more of what you already rely on with our hotel maintenance solution:
       More automation
      Even more user-friendly screens
       Intuitive operations

Retro is no way to go when it comes to riding the crest of the predicted uptick in occupancy.  hotel ServicePro innovations make it easier for your staff to keep the property pristine, the technology bells and whistles operating smoothly, and your guests comfortable.

Stay tuned to this space to find out details about how hotel ServicePro will save you even more time and make you more efficient in the year to come. hotel ServicePro will take care of the paperwork, recordkeeping, and tracking; so you can focus on happy guests and robust revenues.

Our 2014 calendar is filling up fast with shows and conferences we’ll be attending to deliver the tools you’ll need to handle those record occupancies. Tap my shoulder when you see me or leave a comment below. I’d enjoy hearing how you and your property plan to make the most of 2014.

 
Happy New Year!

Bill

Posted in Misc | Tagged , , , , , | Leave a comment

Solid Training & A Loyal Team: It’s How The Game is Won!

hotel SystemsPro’s teamwork in the field! Sales Manager Natalie Roberts and I paired up to win at the IHG Owners Association Joint Committee Meetings’ bowling event in Atlanta. Natalie came through and bowled a
respectable 131. I, on the other hand…let’s just say I added lots of enthusiasm!

December finds many properties in one of two modes: You’re hustling to conjure that holiday magic for your guests, or you’ve got some seasonal downtime on your hands. Either way, here’s a thought as we wrap up 2013 and get ready to welcome a new year:

You know that top-notch customer service significantly boosts a property’s profitability. Have you considered how that applies to your vendors?

Every purchase–from laundry room equipment to software–will serve you best if backed by a team of pros who make sure you get the most for your money.

Step 1 for hotel ServicePro is to find out exactly what you need. You fill out a simple electronic form describing your team and property. We then build you a customized database.

Step 2 is to get you up and running with a 30-day/4-week action plan. It includes system setup, training, and further customization based on actual use.

Step 3 is to back our product like no one else in the industry:

  • Unlimited assistance from our Technical Support Team
  • 24/7 hosting (no hardware required)
  • A mobile version of hotel SystemsPro
  • A suite of more than 100 industry standard reports
  • Software updates

Did I mention that all of the above are covered by one annual fee?

This dramatic evening skyline is courtesy of Apex Hotels in Edinburgh (Scotland) and London. They found us online. One demonstration, one training call, and they’re off and running with hotel ServicePro at eight hotels!
Thus proving that our convenient 24/7 training webinars really do the trick.

When you put our team to work for you, here are 3 tips to get even more for your $$$:

Choose your system administrators wisely. We recommend two of the following-
     general manager, operations manager, chief engineer, executive housekeeper. Security
     is role-based, meaning each team member accesses only appropriate parts of the
     system.

Train your team in Week 2 of your action plan. Training is done via webinars
     with 24/7 availability. No need to pull busy team members during peak hours. They can
     grab “video snacks” any time. hotel SystemsPro also offers certification testing with a
     framed certificate for each team member when their training is complete.

Regional and corporate execs, look at your own corporate website in Week
     3 of the action plan.
Complete setup by hotel ServicePro is included in your annual
     fee. You can toggle among properties to see individual progress, or survey your entire
     portfolio in one report.

Best wishes for the happiest of holidays from our team at hotel SystemsPro to yours.
Here’s to a prosperous and healthy 2014. May all your guests be satisfied and loyal!

And no, ladies and gentlemen, that’s not all! hotel ServicePro is poised to bring you even more innovations in 2014. Stay tuned for enhancements in both the look and functionality of our system, which spells even more cost savings/profitability ahead for your properties.

Meanwhile, all the season’s best to your teams at work and your families at home. I look forward to seeing you next year!

Bill

Posted in Misc | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Mobile Devices Take Care of Business!

Here’s something to be thankful for this season: a jam-packed booth at the IHG Americas Investors and Leadership Conference in Las Vegas last month!  It’s always fun to greet old friends and make new ones. I look forward to helping all our clients put technology to work to make their properties more profitable.

From my office in Atlanta to the IHG show floor in Las Vegas, it’s the posture of modern business: face down; smart phones engaged! It’s so ubiquitous that it has a name– “iPosture.” A recent UK survey* found that 84% of young adults report that constant use of mobile devices has given them a literal pain in the neck–and the back!

What’s the up side of the mobile technology boom? You can run a profitable property and present a polished image to guests from the palm of
your hand.

Just between you and me…

…here’s a scenario GM’s seek to avoid: You or one of your staff is riding the elevator with guests checking into a room on the third floor. A call comes in over the walkie talkie that there’s a leaky toilet…on the fourth floor! Oops.

Whatever the problem—a wheezy AC unit, a fuzzy TV–there’s no need for guests to
hear this.

Your staff can send discreet texts or emails via hotel ServicePro, view them privately, and maintain guests’ perception of gracious grounds and
superior service.

Here’s a holiday tip for regional managers: Stuck in a Thanksgiving travel snarl? Pull out your mobile device and access hotel ServicePro from your plane, train, or automobile. Suddenly, that long wait equals increased productivity as you run the numbers on everything from brand compliance to capital assets.

Here are 3 ways hotel ServicePro helps you harness the mobile revolution:

1)  It lets you communicate via the Internet with any html-enabled handheld
      device.
That includes iPhone, iTouch, iPad, Android, and Galaxy.

2)  It’s 100% web based. No need to invest in servers, backup devices, third-party
      applications, or outside technical resources.

3)  It’s compatible with your property’s current system. Not quite ready for a
      complete mobile upgrade? hotel ServicePro’s got you covered. It works with flip
      phones, telephones, and two-way radios–all with no additional hardware required.
      Phase in new technology, and the system adapts as you do.


“Game changer”–it’s a popular phrase these days. Here’s what hotel ServicePro customers tell us it means to them: a better guest experience; a more profitable property.

When it’s time to jump on the mobile bandwagon, here are my top
tips for success:

  Make sure the technology never interrupts guest engagement. Train staff
      to step around the corner when reading incoming notifications. Otherwise, guests may
      perceive staff as taking care of personal matters rather than hospitality business.

  Use mobile devices to handle guest concerns on the spot. Let’s say a guest
      stops you in the hallway to report a problem. Take out your tablet and reply, “Let me
      enter this into my system.” Nothing says customer service like immediate action.

  Get protective gear for each smart device. It will be $50 well spent. Just think
      of all those pools, bathtubs, hard surfaces, and opportunities for drops.

If you think hotel ServicePro is easy to use, wait until next month when you see how fast and convenient it is to get the system up and running–with plenty of attentive, expert support from our team. Meanwhile, tap me on the shoulder if you’re at BITAC at The Breakers in West Palm Beach, Florida. As always, I’m happy to hear your on-the-ground experiences with hotel ServicePro, or feel free to leave a comment below.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Bill

__________________________________________________________

Resources:
*Medical Daily: “iPosture: 84% Of Young Adults Getting Back Pain From Using iPhones, iPads, And
Other Mobile Devices

**rheguardian: “Forty mobile phone facts: cellphones for dogs, ‘butt-dialling’ and Ernie Wise
Posted in Misc | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

IHG Americas Investors & Leadership Conference

Posted in Misc | Leave a comment

Ghost Busting 101: Banish Your Budget Goblins with
Solid Facts & Figures

No cobwebs or skeletons in the closets here! Gateway Hospitality Group (GHG) is implementing hotel ServicePro at its 18 properties, which include the Hilton, Hyatt, and Choice brands. “hotel ServicePro will enable us to implement an enterprise-wide plan to streamline our maintenance process and increase efficiency,” says CFO Ron Hutcheson. GHG, an independent master developer and operator, has been a hotel SystemsPro client since 2001.

I wonder…is it just a coincidence that Halloween and the annual hospitality budget crunch fall in the same season? If your 2014 fiscal planning brings to mind Night of the Living Dead, never fear. I’ve got some cool tools to take the scare out of your spreadsheets.

Did you know that budget planning starts with your work orders?

Let’s say you’re executing a work order for HVAC units in hotel ServicePro. You discover that some equipment must be replaced. Click on the “Cap Ex” tab to open the Capital Expenditures component. There you’ll be able to enter:

  • How many new units you need?
  • Price quotes from vendors.
  • Project start and end dates.
  • The assets (old equipment) to be retired from your accounting statement.
  • Whether the purchase is a budgeted expense.
  • And last but not least, the name of the person who approves your purchases.

 

From micro to macro, hotel ServicePro’s Capital Expenditure component has you covered. Enter the information from each work order; then run a check on how proposed expenditures fit into pre-set budget guidelines.  Property, regional and corporate management stay on the same page.

Click “Save” and hotel ServicePro automatically emails the approval request. When it arrives at corporate headquarters, the asset manager can select “Approve,” “Disapprove,” or “Pending” and instantly notify the hotel manager. It doesn’t get any more streamlined than that!

You can complete your budget planning minus the paperwork avalanche. hotel ServicePro displays what you’ve spent on Capital Expenditures along with pending projects that still await funding.

No wonder the paper avalanche seems deeper this year. Capital expenditures by U.S. hotels will hit a five-year high of $5.6 billion in 2013. So reports the Preston Robert Tisch Center for Hospitality, Tourism and Sports Management at New York University. hotel ServicePro’s Capital Expenditure component can have you out from under that pile in no time.

Here are 3 more ways to tame budget terrors and prioritize spending:

1.  Review your Quality Assurance Report. What is your brand telling you to replace? Obviously, these directives are “must-do’s” in your Capital Expenditure budget.

2.  Review your SALT scores. What are your guests telling you to update?

3.  Use hotel ServicePro’s location analysis and maintenance reporting. Zero in on what gets repaired over and over. Consider whether it’s more cost-effective to replace that equipment.

Now, that wasn’t so scary, was it?

With a month of desk labor behind me, I’m off to Las Vegas for the IHG Americas Investors & Leadership Conference Oct. 28 – 30. Next month, I’ll be talking about how hotel ServicePro’s browser-based applications boost mobile convenience. If you see me in Vegas, show me what mobile devices you use to keep your properties profitable.

Until then, may all your balance sheets be in the black,

Bill

Posted in Misc | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

hotel SystemsPro is Proud to Provide hotel ServicePro to Ronald McDonald House

Posted in Misc | Leave a comment

Is Automation the Path to Success? Ask Your Satisfied Guests!

 

If this is back-to-school, I’ll take it! Fall business travel has commenced.  I got to stretch my summer at the Sheraton Myrtle Beach Convention Center Hotel. My mission: spread the word at the Strand Development general manager/director of sales conference about how automation can increase revenues for properties large and small.

The crowd was buzzing about automation at Strand Development’s general manager/director of sales conference in Myrtle Beach, SC.

It was a good lesson for back-to-school week—trading piles of paper records for streamlined efficiency increases asset value and profits. That’s why I call automation: The Path to Success.  Let me explain…

Did you know that 84% of highly committed (i.e., loyal) guests say they “definitely will” return to a brand? In contrast, only 25% of guests with medium commitment say they “definitely will” return.

Excellent service and life safety are two key drivers of guest loyalty. Can you guess the third?

The answer is a well-maintained property. That means asset management is one of the best ways to attract the highly committed crowd.

 

Hold drawers full of warranty information in the palm of your hand. Use hotel ServicePro’s Asset Management component to record warranty expiration dates, manufacturer’s care instructions, model and serial numbers, the date you put the equipment into service, and even its location. Customize everything to your specific equipment.

Here’s how automation can help you succeed:

  • It significantly reduces costs.

Did you know that following the manufacturer’s warranty maintenance schedule can double or triple the life of your equipment?

Use hotel ServicePro’s Asset Management component for fast and easy entry of maintenance requirements as you complete new equipment installation. Voila…hotel ServicePro not only automatically creates a maintenance schedule, it also automates work orders and generates a report when maintenance tasks are past due. Regional and asset managers can run a report and quickly see who’s in line and who’s behind on asset management.

If equipment does break down under warranty, call up complete records with hotel ServicePro to ensure that the repair or replacement doesn’t come out of your bottom line.

  • It increases revenue.

A sparkling property encourages highly committed guests to…
…spend more time at your property
…spend more money at your property
…and are the best channel for marketing your property and brand.

 Sure, you remember the PTAC unit and laundry machines. But don’t forget to enter warranty maintenance for ALL departments—not just engineering—into hotel ServicePro’s Asset Management component. That includes everything from the computers and printers behind the front desk to the oil and windshield wiper changes for your shuttle van, and first-aid kits and fire extinguishers, too!

That’s how automated asset management keeps your property sparkling, your guests happy, and your revenue and asset value in the black.  Class dismissed!

When it does come time to invest your hard-earned revenue in property improvements, hotel ServicePro’s Capital Expenditure component will make sure you get value for your dollar. Look for me in October in Las Vegas for the 2013 IHG Americas Investors & Leadership Conference!

What are your secrets for spending money wisely?

Happy Fall!

Bill

Posted in Misc | Tagged , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment