I’ve Learned From My Dog And So Can You!

Anyone who has met me knows how crazy I am for my dog Hondo, a 125-pound bouvier des flandres puppy. We rescued him from an owner in Pennsylvania who didn’t realize that he was going to get to a size that is bordering on unmanageable. Hondo is not our first dog; he is our third. And each one is unique in its approach to life. Hondo is quite a character – pet friendly is an understatement! Looking at the world from Hondo’s perspective, there is a lot that can be applied to the hotel world. In many ways, our pets instruct can us how to effectively manage our employees and how to best treat our teams. Here are ten takeaways that relate to your job as a hotelier. Pets thrive on routine. Routine means following a set course of activity everyday. Now think of your hotel operation – routine allows …

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Hear Ye! Hotel Lessons From Ben Franklin Himself!

Ben Franklin (1706-1790) is one of the founding fathers of the United States – a politician, author, printer, postmaster, scientist, poet, inventor and diplomat, he is the definition of a renaissance man. While his acclaim lives on the history books, a historical actor-entertainer named Bill Robling (pictured above) has spent the last 30 years bringing Ben Franklin to life. Normally a staple of the Philadelphia tourist scene, he recently sojourned to my hometown of Toronto for a media event. While attending this affair, I pulled Bill aside for a fun interview about our industry. While channeling his questions through the voice of Ben Franklin, it is nevertheless clear that Bill has quite a few observations for hotels to take note of, and I hope you will learn that, even after two centuries and countless technological innovations, the core of hospitality remains the same. Larry: Ben, we’re in a bit of …

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ETOBICOKE, CANADA - JULY 24: Walmart Supercentre entrance on July 24, 2013 in Etobicoke, Ontario, Canada. Walmart is an American multinational retail corporation that runs chains of large discount department stores. It is the world's third largest public corporation, according to the Fortune Global 500 list in 2012.

Lessons for Hotels from Walmart

Years ago, and well before my hotelier days, I traveled to Bentonville, Arkansas selling ergonomic furniture, mouse pads and the like. The Walmart offices were huge then and I can only imagine how much they have grown since. Today, Walmart is the world’s largest company by revenue ($288 billion) and employees (2.2 million), rivaling the GDP of many nations, including some that are traditionally defined as first-world. What’s most interesting to me is that hoteliers, by and large, have never really looked to this retail titan to see what they can glean. Perhaps it’s a stigma whereby Walmart is perceived as ‘beneath us’ or that a discount retailer is totally unrelated to our heads-in-beds raison d’être. In any event, here are a few initiatives that Walmart does exceptionally well that should be on our radar. They advertise. Walmart did not grow on its own. They are among the world’s heaviest …

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Senior woman typing using a computer at home or in an office

The Six Rules of Semi-Retirement Consulting Success

For financial or a variety of other reasons, many folks in our industry refuse to accept any form of clear-cut retirement. This typically results in the transition from an employee to a semi-retired entrepreneur. This can be a daunting task. Typically, the higher up you are in any organization, the further away you are from the basic tasks required just to manage your new ‘one person’ consulting operation. The myriad of functions previously completed by your support staff now occupy your time. For example, some former executive colleagues of mine did not even know how to set up their own email or how to manage their own websites. (If you’re reading this and think that I’m describing you, I apologize…but you should know!) Being a humble scribe has opened a channel for those in the industry considering a move into later life consulting to contact me regarding their ideas and …

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Selection of Video-sharing websites.

The Fragmented Television Landscape

Variety, an old-guard magazine of the entertainment industry, released a study in late March this year addressing the widening gap between how the young and the old watch television. To scrape the title of the article, younger viewers (millennials and post-millennials) watch 2.5 times more internet video (including YouTube, Netflix, Hulu, Vimeo and so on) than traditional TV. And with so many more options available today, the viewing landscape is becoming increasingly fragmented and intimidating to companies looking to advertise. Internet streaming is the future of television, though; there’s no way around it. Right now we’re in the transitionary phase as our stalwart elders decline in both numbers and overall spending power while the younger generations – those acclimatized since birth to look first to the World Wide Web for visual content – continue to proliferate. The question is: how will your hotel adapt to grow advocacy and future loyalty …

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Friday 13th on Grunge paper

Are You Superstitious?

Well, are you? Seems like an apt question for a Friday the 13th article. While the Western World increasingly moves toward a scientific and largely atheistic approach to natural phenomena, there are still many people on this pale blue dot who strongly believe in the supernatural and mystical numerology which for those of European descent includes the number 13. As hoteliers, it is our job to be accepting of other belief systems and to accommodate special requests, no matter what the logic behind those requests is. Before we dive in to guest service protocols for superstitious guests, now would be a good segue for explaining why 13 is such an unlucky number in Western cultures and, while we’re at it, identifying any other numbers to be wary of. While web sources spin a good yarn about betrayer Judas, the 13th guest as Jesus Christ’s last supper, or how some medieval …

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FIFO and LIFO Guest Interactions

To those who have taken a course in accounting or general finance, both of these four letter acronyms should be instantly familiar. Adapting these terms beyond bookkeeping and into the realm of hospitality, we can lever such terminology for a completely different purpose – guest interactions. First, a refresher for those who have been away from the financial texts for a while. FIFO, or ‘First In First Out’, is the generally accepted means of assessing the costs of inventory. With FIFO, inventory valuation is based upon a calculation that infers that products being sold are the oldest on the shelves. Thus, as costs increase, your sales figures reflect on-going inventory turnover. LIFO, or ‘Last in First Out’, is an accounting method that is just the opposite; your cost of sales reflects the most recent inventory purchase. What does this have to do with your hotel and guest interaction? After all, …

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Churchillian Inspirations for Hotels

This short column is dedicated to one of the greatest statesmen that ever lived. Sir Winston Churchill (1874-1965) was best known as the Prime Minister of Great Britain during the Second World War. He served his country valiantly at a time when all hope was just about lost. My parents lived through this period; both served our nation, as did most others of the Greatest Generation. To them, Churchill was among the most influential individuals of their time, and even as he becomes an ever-distant part of our history, his words remain timeless. Specifically for hotels, our current situation can easily be seen as an economic war and a struggle for our industry’s survival. We battle daily for guests’ hearts and minds as they are increasingly distracted by fragmented media, new entrants like Airbnb and bargain basement shopping habits. We fight and bicker over such things as the best rate …

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Unsung Heroes of Hospitality: Director of Sales and Marketing

Smaller, independent properties face innumerable sales and marketing challenges, ranging from tighter advertising budgets and less latitude to absorb unforeseen downturns to higher OTA commissions and a lack of ‘guaranteed’ business from loyalty program redemptions. Unlike their chain property brothers and sisters, Directors of Sales and Marketing (DoSM) at these hotels often operate independently with limited support networks or the refining of ideas through collaboration. At the same time, their value to the operation is markedly more significant, as general managers (and owners!) increasingly look to them to forge the future direction and profitability of the entity. Some properties with more substantial conference facilities often weigh this position in favor of the sales side of the equation, as supporting group room development efforts are paramount. Still, with digital activities as the primary driver for leisure business, some properties have eschewed the traditional marketing position entirely, delegating that role to the …

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Man covering ears by pillows because of noise

The Sound of Silence: In Search of Quiet Guestrooms

I’m fascinated by the sounds of a hotel or, should I say, the distinct lack of sound. But before I delve into this topic, here is a quick basic primer. Sound travels in waves and you can’t see them. The amplitude of a sound wave is a measurement of how forceful the sound wave is. This measurement is expressed in decibels, or dB of sound pressure. A decibel meter allows you to measure just what level of sound exists in any environment. We all hear (pun intended) about extremely loud noises and the dangers of prolonged exposure to such cacophony. In fact, there are maximums to the acceptable environmental standards for worker exposure to sound. It is important for hoteliers to understand this for back-of-house locations such as the laundry, kitchen, machine shops and boiler/furnace rooms. The following chart gives you a standard scale of sound levels. The amount of …

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