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Let Freedom Ring: Free WiFi is a Basic Right not a Profit Center

I am well aware that the concept of free WiFi Internet in hotel rooms is an aspiration of every hotel manager.  However, based on my recent stay over at the Hilton Hotel in downtown Toronto, I don’t believe that such managers truly grasp how fundamental it is to provide this service. As a P&G Alumni, I was delighted that the corporation’s global reunion for 2011 was being held in my hometown, using none other than the first-rate conference facilities at the Hilton. Even though I am a local, it’s still a grueling commute to get downtown early in the morning.  And the last thing I want to do after standing and socializing for 14 hours straight is drive back to my house in the suburbs, only to repeat the process the following day. So I get a room.  When I arrive, everything is in order.  It’s clean, chicly decorated with …

Larry MogelonskyLet Freedom Ring: Free WiFi is a Basic Right not a Profit Center

COMO’s Luxury Philosophy: An Interview with Commercial Director Simon Kerr

Recently, I had the opportunity to sit down with Simon Kerr from COMO Hotels and Resorts, a brand that I have had the pleasure to work with extensively over the past few years. Simon is the commercial director based out of London and a dear friend of mine. Tell us a little bit about your background. Why COMO Hotels and Resorts? I have been with COMO Hotels and Resorts for just over five years now. My responsibilities cover all commercial aspects of our business. My background prior to joining COMO has always been in the hospitality industry. After training in Hotel Management, I specialized in Sales & Marketing and my career has included time with InterContinental, Hilton and Marriott International at the world famous Grosvenor House Hotel on London’s Park Lane. I was drawn to a career with COMO because of the vision of the company. Our owner, Mrs. Ong’s …

Larry MogelonskyCOMO’s Luxury Philosophy: An Interview with Commercial Director Simon Kerr

Les Miserables: The Innkeeper Lives!

A couple months ago, I attended another brilliant performance of Les Misérables.  It’s easily my favorite play and I’ve seen it in Toronto, New York and London.  Before I come to my point, let me digress for those unfamiliar. Based on a novel written by Victor Hugo in 1862, the musical is set in the time leading up to the French Revolution.  One of the more comical characters in this exceptional period piece was the Innkeeper, best known for the song, Masters of the House, which jovially mocked the hotel industry at the time. I’ll spare you my singing abilities, but a verse near the end definitely isn’t pretty: “Charge ’em for the lice, extra for the mice Two percent for looking in the mirror twice Here a little slice, there a little cut Three percent for sleeping with the window shut When it comes to fixing prices There are …

Larry MogelonskyLes Miserables: The Innkeeper Lives!
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Is It Time to Kick Start Traditional Marketing Again?

Now that the first quarter of 2011 is through, the overarching trade data is starting to pile up; some good, some bad.  As a plus, the hospitality industry is showing definite signs of full recovery from the 2008 – 2010 slump.  However, even with this positive news, REVPAR, ADR and profitability are not necessarily following suit.  What is causing this discrepancy? Look no further than the OTAs.  In their infancy, the OTAs seemed lucrative: you simply transferred your remnant inventory to them, which added instant cash to the bottom line. Sure the rates were not terrific, yet occupancies improved and total revenues increased.  But a monster was created, and a gluttonous monster at that.  Giving these online sites leftover rooms the odd weekend or off period week was one thing.  Now, thanks to those original sales, the OTAs have garnered their own loyal customer bases. And that is the new …

Larry MogelonskyIs It Time to Kick Start Traditional Marketing Again?
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Burn Your Marketing Plan: Then Build a New One

As an industry consultant, the marketing planning process for hospitality never ceases to amaze me. For our hotel and resort properties, the discourse generally starts around late July. With great gusto, the GM calls a meeting with the director of marketing and other planning committee luminaries to talk about the initiatives for the upcoming year; most likely entailing a determination to increase average rate and a desire for continued growth in occupancy. The next step, more or less, involves the director of marketing spending every working hour for the next two to three months writing a thesis-length document. During this period, any semblance of real business growth is thwarted as all efforts are always fixated on the next fiscal year. Does this sound familiar? If you gave an affirmative to that, then ponder these questions. After the marketing plan presentation is completed, how many times is it subsequently referred to …

Larry MogelonskyBurn Your Marketing Plan: Then Build a New One
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The Seven Deadly Sins of Hotel Marketing

With budget planning just around the corner, it’s time for you to start thinking of how you are going to make this year different. Based on over 30 years experience helping various hotels around the world with their strategic planning needs, I believe that marketing is still an area for vast budgetary improvements. Here is my version of the ‘Seven Deadly Sins’ as a quick message for what to do and what to avoid during this sometimes turbulent process. Pride: Do not ask the director of marketing to produce a multi-tabbed, hundred-page marketing manuscript. Rather, call for a document that is a useful working tool for the business. Define appropriate strategies for each segment of the marketplace, and once these are set, adhere to them for the entire year, modifying tactics as necessary and readdressing only if dire circumstances intervene. Sloth: Make sure your team does their homework and reviews …

Larry MogelonskyThe Seven Deadly Sins of Hotel Marketing
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Double Deviations: Two Wrongs Never Makes a Right

When does a service issue become an outright problem instead of just a temporary inconvenience? What is the “tipping point” that provokes a guest to write a comment in TripAdvisor, or worse, never return to your property? And, most importantly, once you find this threshold, how do you ensure that things never reach this point? The new age verbiage for this process is a “Double Deviation;” a term you’ve probably heard in passing, and yet, it’s one you should have on the back of your mind at all times.  To draw upon my engineering background, customer complaints follow an initiation and propagation couplet. That is, a problem only becomes a problem when guests are not adequately compensated for the initial error, or when a second error occurs. I will use a recent trip to Philadelphia as an example. My wife and I spent the weekend at a downtown luxury property. …

Larry MogelonskyDouble Deviations: Two Wrongs Never Makes a Right
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Inverting the Pyramid to Build Service Reputation: Think of Guests as Your Shareholders

Adapting your organizational structure for today’s rapid communications is a hot topic amongst hoteliers. We all know it’s a necessity, and we’re all curious about how best to initiate this change. But when it comes to the fine print, however, we are often left in the dark. Managers are bombarded with so much work that they seldom have the opportunity to investigate all the technological resources at their disposal. In the past, a firm pyramidal structure of information distribution provided adequate time for senior managers to review and respond. As well, it insulated executives from trivial data, letting them focus on the big picture. Decision-making occurred at a steady pace, flowing from the GM to the planning committee, then to their line managers. The results reached the guests. Remember the notion of delivery “in a New York minute”? Forget it, it’s too slow. Ditto for next week’s executive planning committee …

Larry MogelonskyInverting the Pyramid to Build Service Reputation: Think of Guests as Your Shareholders
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Commoditization: A Wake Up Call for 4-Star Chain Hotel Management

A recent article by Michael Scully, Managing Director Hospitality of Seven Tides Development, reinforces the need to prevent commoditization of hotels and hotel brands. I couldn't agree more. So allow me to build on this idea. (You can view Mike's complete article at http://ehotelier.com/hospitality-news/item.php?id=D20957_0_11_0_M)   To Start, What is a Commodity? A commodity is a good that is universal, typically an unprocessed grain, fruit or precious metal. For example, copper is bought and sold on a worldwide exchange with limited relevance to its mine or country of origin. By commodity, we refer to the fact that the buyer does not have to qualify the product, only quantify it.   But How Does a Service Become a Commodity? Traditionally, services cannot be commoditized, as there are numerous variables that account for differences between the type and level of service offered by each provider. The commoditization of hotels started many years ago …

Larry MogelonskyCommoditization: A Wake Up Call for 4-Star Chain Hotel Management
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10 Quick Ideas to Market Your Property Better Now

Many GMs think that marketing planning is done once a year, typically in the fall and in advance of the coming fiscal year. Here are a series of quick points you can spring on your director of marketing to see to help keep your marketing program on track. 1. Repeat customers are easier to cultivate than new guests. Make sure you don’t forget to capture as much information as you can for each guest. Expand your database to know: why they visited, what they did (spa, golf, meals, room type, etc.) Then, maintain a relationship with your past guests, encouraging them to revisit by appealing to their interests. 2. To everything there is a season. Mark your calendar in advance. Plan every holiday with military precision. Unlike every other promotional program that you create, these no-brainer events deserve your full attention. If you’re not full, shame on you! You have …

Larry Mogelonsky10 Quick Ideas to Market Your Property Better Now