Monthly Archives: March 2017

Recovery Fades for the Hotel

In fact, hotel room revenue already were down 5% in August–before the attacks–as businesses and consumers cut back on travel spending amid the economic slowdown. Kent said room revenue would have been down 7% to 10% for the rest of the year without the travel crisis, but now that number probably will be closer to 15% for the rest of the year. “It’s hard to see it will get much better than this,” Kent said. “You’re facing tough comparisons through the first quarter” of 2002. The slowing improvement was partly behind Deutsche Banc Alex. Brown’s decision Monday to lower its outlook for five hotel companies: Hilton Hotels Corp., Starwood Hotels & Resorts Worldwide Inc., Wyndham International Inc., Prime Hospitality Corp. and MeriStar Hotels & Resorts Inc. “Recent data from Smith Travel suggest that the industry’s initial rebound has begun to moderate,” analyst Mark Mutkoski wrote in a research note. He said he expects continued contraction in room revenue through the second quarter of next year, with sequential improvement after that until comparisons turn positive in the third quarter.

The Healthcare Hands Recovery Hotel is a relaxing retreat in the heart of the city and only 1 minute from Bumrungrad Interntional Hospital. The recovery hotel offers a range of premium facilities for medical tourists to help them feel safe and comfortable. 48 calming rooms with creative design touches where guests will instantly feel relaxed and at home. Our Recovery rooms feature wonderfully comfortable mattresses, premium bed linen and hypoallergenic pillows. The contemporary bathrooms are complete with refreshing rain showers while the top-of-the-line amenities keep guests entertained and refreshed with the latest technology televisions, mini-bar and hot drinks counter. Daily housekeeping to ensure a clean and sterile recovery.

A day room (hotel) is a method of booking a hotel room for same-day use. Historically, the use of day rooms dates as far back as the hotel itself. In literary history, has been associated with the idea of renting rooms on an hourly basis. For a time, this practice had a negative connotation for hotels and motels. In Japan, this practice is commonplace, but exclusive to a specific type of hotel called a love hotel. Long layovers and unpredictable travel plans re-created the demand for day rooms in modern times. In the United States, jobs that require travel became more popular in the 20th and 21st centuries. The practice of renting a hotel room for a day is also common among travelers and vacationers who go on cruises, due to the fact that cruise ships typically depart and arrive at early hours of the morning. Modern hotels fill daytime occupancy by offering day rooms. Day rooms are booked in a block of hours typically between 8 am and 5 pm, before the typical night shift. For example, the Four Points, a Sheraton hotel in Los Angeles, began offering day rooms. Also, the Rodeway Inn and Suites near Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale, Florida offers day rooms.

Creativity and Science Have Merged on Hotel

When Chefs create menus, we look at many different parameters and angles of how to design a dish, and how to group those dishes into a menu. We look at what is new or exciting, or, what is old and forgotten about which may be “resurrected”. We look at seasonality, colors on the plate, quality of the ingredient, trendiness of an ingredient, or uniqueness of a preparation or combination of flavors. These are not mutually exclusive, and they all can play into each other. Chefs sometimes bounce these ideas off of the guests who are dining with them, as “experimentation” whether they admit it or not! Some of these fail, and some take off with such fervor, that they can become national trends. Many recent trends have been successfully focused on artisanal ingredients or old-world preparations. So, what does it mean to use these hybrid, artisanal or old-world ingredients, and are we being true to them?

The term “Artisan” or “Old-World” is normally used to describe food ingredients produced by non-industrialized methods, often handed down through generations but is now in danger of being lost. Tastes and processes, such as fermentation, are allowed to develop slowly and naturally, rather than curtailed for mass-production. Production methods are kept authentic to the nature of the item, so that modernization of processing does not alter the flavor, consistency, or quality as they originally were.

Artisan traditionally refers to both what it is made of and how something is made. Merriam-Webster Dictionary defines an artisan as, “one that produces something (as with cheese or wine) in limited quantities often using traditional methods.” The artisan process requires a specific knowledge, a caring philosophy and is most often carried out by hand. Furthermore, artisan foods have been mostly associated with fresh, non- or minimally processed ingredients, and are often locally sourced. Most associate artisan foods which are handcrafted by a skilled creator from pure, local ingredients. Artisan bread comes to mind. One might expect the loaf to be a bit irregular and a bit different looking from the one that shared a spot in the wood-fired stone oven. Its taste and texture would be superior to manufactured bread. These are unlikely conditions under which fast or frozen foods are sourced and manufactured.

The biggest disadvantage of hybrid seeds is that they don’t “reproduce true” in the second generation. That means that if you save the seeds produced by F1 hybrid plants and plant them, the plant variety that will grow from those seeds (known as the second generation) may or may not share the desired traits you selected for when creating the first generation hybrid seed. This may in turn keep a farmer dependent on a particular seed company year after year since they can’t save the seeds and expect the next generation of plants they grow to be identical to the first. This could be devastating to subsistence farmers around the world, who are depending on consistency and quality. Furthermore, major portions the world’s food biodiversity has been lost due to the controls over seed production being shifted from farming communities to a handful of multinational corporations controlling these hybrid seed strains. Some hybrids are also not grown on a massive scale, and retain the uniqueness that an heirloom has. A hybrid can pack just as much punch as an heirloom, and should not be overlooked either.

For the Chef, however, the positives in utilizing either old-world heirloom or hybrids brings excitement to the plate, showcasing products that the region may have never seen before, and generating a buzz about a dish due to the origins of the product. Relishing in creative freedom, Chefs value the fact that there are such hybrids in which to utilize. Avoiding GMOs, however, takes a few steps which a Chef must be willing to undertake:

  1. Opt to buy single-ingredient certified organic food.
  2. Choose Non-GMO verified labeled foods.
  3. Grow their own open-pollinated, heirloom variety plants.
  4. Get to know the farmer and ask pointed questions about his or her growing practices, then opt to support GMO-free growing.

Examples of trending old-world, hybrid, or artisanal ingredients would be: Hemp seed (ground or whole), Spelt, Amaranth seed, Quinoa flour, Burdock or Salsify, Raspberry Leaf or Dandelion or Moss Tea, Rose Hips, Comfrey, Romanesco, red carrots, squash, mushrooms, cucumbers, chilies, and certain fruits such as melons, and tomatoes, of course.

So, how can a consumer distinguish between real artisan food and a marketing gimmick? Try asking yourself these three questions about the product: Does a real person craft this product with care? Is it made by hand, in small batches or limited quantities using specialty old-world or artisanal ingredients? Does it reflect expertise, tradition, passion, and a refined process? To learn the answers to these questions, one would need to develop a relationship with the person who crafted the products. Though this is nearly impossible to do with supermarket, fast or frozen food products, a Chef at a restaurant will have done this legwork, and have those relationships and understand the passions and science behind the products.

Creating a Sense of Place in Hotel

Since that weekend, every home in which we have lived has incorporated tree up-lights in its landscaping. Why do I tell you this story? Because these up-lights give me a sense of place.

Anthropologists see it in terms of the relationship between culture and symbols. Sociologists think of it in terms of a feeling of belonging. Urban Planners try to figure out how they can design and build it. And marketers just want to use it to increase sales. But no matter what the viewpoint, there are three fundamental points to remember in developing your property’s sense of place.

First, just as perceptions are different for everyone, so is sense of place. Those up-lights are one of mine, but they were never my husband’s. While he lovingly remembered our walks beneath those trees, he found his sense of place stepping onto the first tee at any golf course. Second, a sense of place needs a place. That is, it has to have a geographic location. Here is where hotels, inns, resorts, and B&Bs can have a leg-up on other businesses. By definition, you already have a physical place. Yours is an airport hotel, or an ocean-side resort, or an inn like Bob Newhart ran on his 1970s TV sitcom. The question is whether it also has an emotional sense of place. Third, places that have a strong sense of place have a distinctive identity that locals and/or visitors can’t necessarily explain, but can feel. The key ingredients here are unique, authentic, and character. It is this third point over which you probably have the most control, but it may also be the hardest for you to implement.

It seems that, with the exploding global hotel industry, finding that unique and authentic concept to establish the property’s distinctive character becomes more challenging. But those hotels who have successfully done it and are reaping the benefits.

For instance, the Hotel Monteleone gives guests a sense of a paranormal place by leveraging its friendly ghosts who have appeared to guests and employees. Of course, this 19th-Century Hotel in New Orleans French Quarter boasts its historic gilded chandeliers, carved paneling, and soaring ceilings as the backdrop for it sense of place. And, oh yes, the actual 13th floor, where most of the ghostly actions happen, is called the 14th floor. In a similar vein, the quaint 1649 Three Chimneys Inn in New Hampshire, established its strong sense of place by exploiting the paranormal sounds and sightings of a young girl who drowned in a nearby Oyster River. And it, too, reinforces its sense of place with antique furnishings.

But a property doesn’t have to rely on ghosts, or historical happenings for a sense of place. It can build its own much like the famous 110 room Madonna Inn did in San Luis Obispo, California. The original 12 room property was not nearly as ostentatious as today’s inn. But after it burned down in the sixties, it was rebuilt as the “most ridiculous and amazing motel you’re likely to find anywhere” with individually themed rooms bearing such names as Caveman, Rock Bottom, and William Tell. And, having had the opportunity to be stay there, I can attest to the fact that it does establish its clear sense of place its guests.

There is no question that the understanding how a sense of place develops and becomes relevant to your guests is not an easy thing to do. Social psychologists, geographers, designers, and marketers have been trying to figure how to do it for years. All we can do is take what they have learned so far and work to integrate it into every aspect of our hotel’s operations. First, a sense of place is actually an emotional bond between a person and his/her surroundings. This comes back to the truism that perception is reality. Second, its three key components are unique, authentic, and character. It is another truism that you can’t try to be something you are not; people will see right through you. It follows then, that an additional truism is: You can fool some of the people all of the time; all of the people some of the time, but you cannot fool all of the people all of the time. And third, your guest’s sense of place is often rooted in past experience. This last truism comes down to the notion of banked memories and takes us back to my story of Alka Seltzer containers and up-lights.

Hotels Manage Tasks

A hotel manager, hotelier, or lodging manager is a person who manages the operation of a hotel, motel, resort, or other lodging-related establishment. Management of a hotel operation includes, but is not limited to management of hotel staff, business management, upkeep and sanitary standards of hotel facilities, guest satisfaction and customer service, marketing management, sales management, revenue management, financial accounting, purchasing, and other functions. The title “hotel manager” or “hotelier” often refers to the hotel’s General Manager who serves as a hotel’s head executive, though their duties and responsibilities vary depending on the hotel’s size, purpose, and expectations from ownership. The hotel’s General Manager is often supported by subordinate department managers that are responsible for individual departments and key functions of the hotel operation.

Hotel managers are generally exposed to long shifts that include late hours, weekends, and holidays due to the 24-hour operation of a hotel. The common workplace environment in hotels is fast-paced, with high levels of interaction with guests, employees, investors, and other managers.

Upper management consisting of senior managers, department heads, and General Managers may sometimes enjoy a more desirable work schedule consisting of a more traditional business day with occasional weekends and holidays off. Depending on the size of the hotel, a typical hotel manager’s day may include assisting with operational duties, managing employee performance, handling dissatisfied guests, managing work schedules, purchasing supplies, interviewing potential job candidates, conducting physical walks and inspections of the hotel facilities and public areas, and additional duties. These duties may vary each day depending on the needs of the property. The manager’s responsibility also includes knowing about all current local events as well as the events being held on the hotel property. Managers are often required to attend regular department meetings, management meetings, training seminars for professional development, and additional functions. A hotel/casino property may require additional duties regarding special events being held on property for casino complimentary guests.

To address revenue optimization, each chain has a slightly different approach to the RMS question. Some chains are contracting with independent RMS providers to “white-label” each system, like GRO for Hilton. Others, like Hyatt and Starwood, have developed entirely proprietary systems to suit their internal brand goals. Brand systems, particularly those that are uniquely developed for one brand family, often have a significant edge over independent systems in dynamic functions due to the size of the budget backing the development of each program.

The ability to leverage more expensive features such as hourly real-time optimization updates can quickly give a property a strong competitive edge in a major market, as opposed to many independent systems that offer updates only once or twice a day. Alternatively, brand systems leave less room for customization, which at times can hinder properties that might not fit the exact mold of the brand, resulting in additional overrides and manipulation of the system by revenue managers to help create adaptation.

This may lead those in the industry to believe that independent hotels do not possess the same resources as chain hotels. To an extent, that is true. There are certain challenges that an independent hotel faces that don’t affect chains. In today’s revenue management environment, there are a few critical resources that revenue managers must use when working with independent properties. Most importantly, revenue managers cannot excel without adaptability and learning agility. Every independent property in each market presents unique challenges and opportunities, and requires a truly adaptable approach to each situation, with the necessary level of customization, to properly leverage the opportunities that present themselves. Depending on the property, demand may dictate completely opposing strategies.

For one hotel, packaging and upgraded room types may be in demand, while at another property, upgrades may rarely be booked directly and will only be filled by overbooking base room types. In another case, packages may be used strictly for SEO purposes and rarely generate revenue directly. For independent properties, it’s essential for revenue managers to be creative, constantly researching and uncovering new opportunities within the industry. This will help each property develop future revenue growth rather than remaining stagnant.

There are many challenges that have developed in the revenue management industry over the years. Booking windows grow shorter and shorter and year over year pace no longer yields as much intelligence as it previously did, mainly because patterns and booking behavior of guests have changed dramatically. As TCRM leads strategy for our clients, it remains important that we present the data for changing elements in each unique market and the opportunities or potential pitfalls that could present themselves.

It can be easy to get mired in the minutia and fixated on same-day results, especially when trying to impact a longer-term, more sustainable change in revenue strategy. Long-term gains can sometimes necessitate absorbing short-term pain. For example, when strategy shifts from an occupancy focus to an ADR focus, there may be short-term negative results. This is when hotels often panic and think a mistake has been made and derail the carefully crafted strategy.

This is precisely the reason that it is so important to work with a Revenue Manager experienced in analyzing these situations rather than giving in to an emotional, knee-jerk reaction. A seasoned Revenue Manager will evaluate the data correctly, pulling from various sources and looking at multiple angles, and adjusting and tweaking the approach as the property travels toward sustainable strategies and overall revenue growth.

As mentioned previously, independent hotels benefit from a higher level of agility, as they can react to changing times with the potential to quickly shift strategy. Chains remain forced to roll out a complete change to their entire portfolio, which can sometimes take months to move forward. Independent hotels can change quickly, given that the appropriately experienced person is leading the way.

However, a major challenge for independent hotels remains the ability to boost ADR, which is typically easier for chains. Chains often receive better placement on the available distribution sites because of the size of their agreements with each OTA. This can leave independent hotels with fewer tools to boost visibility without having to offer discounts or higher commissions to secure better placement, particularly relevant in larger markets. As a result, and by default, independent properties may push RevPAR from an occupancy standpoint. This is notably different for iconic independent properties or well-known luxury properties, which create their own “brand,” while being managed independently and experiencing strong direct booking demand.

While this disparate ADR strategy may be the trend of today’s market, however, traveler preference and demographics are beginning to lean more towards independent properties that provide unique and local experiences for their guests, mainly a result of the emergence of affluent millennial travelers that prize an experience over the standard amenities of a cookie-cutter brand. Brands are already seeking to capitalize on this with the emergence of “soft brands” such as Curio, Autograph or Tribute, but independent hotels have the potential to create thoughtful authentic experiences for their guests and will continue to hold the advantage. Over the next two to three years, independent properties that provide excellent guest service and receive overall positive reviews will be able to charge premiums that compete with and may overtake similar branded properties, which would propel them to higher RevPAR than their branded competition.

On the other hand, an independent hotel may decide to align itself with a “soft brand” or perhaps an affiliation group, such as Preferred Hotels or Design Hotels, to benefit from the brand’s broader marketing reach and list of resources. It is important to closely evaluate the costs and benefits of this type of affiliation prior to engaging in the partnership. The expected increase in demand, the impact of having to accept lower-rated reservations, such as reward stays, and the additional marketing fees and higher cost of distribution are all areas that need to be carefully evaluated.