Dubai, UAE - September 11, 2013: The Atlantis the Palm hotel and limousines. It is located on man-made island Palm Jumeirah.

Mutual Success Through Product Placement

Have you ever watched a movie and noticed that all the cops and robbers were driving only one brand of car? Or that every actor on a television show only drinks exclusively Coke or Pepsi but never both? Product placement has been part of the Hollywood scene for decades as savvy producers must find ever-creative ways to squeeze every ounce of profit out of their films – something that looks especially worthwhile when such brands are willing to pay upfront and thereby offset the usual cashflow issues of movie production. After all, if the script doesn’t specify the specific type of automobile being driven, smartphone adjacent to the name actor’s ear or beverage being consumed, why not earn some decent bucks in the process? More recently, hoteliers have started to realize that hotels can offer perfect symmetry with many brands that want trial from their target audience, especially when those …

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Cheap And Cheerful Renovations

There are many indicators that might tell you it’s time to renovate. Your TripAdvisor scores are dropping with guest complaints skewing increasingly towards facilities and maintenance rather than service. Or say you just received a conditional score on your annual inspection. It can even be as obvious as the faded green floral wallpaper that used to match the emerald porcelain tiles or the white shag carpeting now sporting various shades of gray. The wear and tear on hotels far exceeds that of a personal residence. You might repaint rooms in your home once every decade depending on taste or changes in family needs. In the hotel business, though, that schedule would be seriously inadequate. Bedrooms, lobbies, hallways and the outside areas closest to the front door are under continuous guest scrutiny. Of course, CAPEX funds for renovations are always tight. Most budgets are built around covering yearly overhead and variable …

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Heavy Vibration roller compactor at asphalt pavement works for road repairing

How Hotels Can Survive A Flattening Of Pace

During the 2008-2009 economic downturn, even though the future of most hotels was uncertain, the corrective actions for such times of hardship were not. Properties across the board responded to the lower occupancies and tightening of travelers’ purse strings by cutting costs in whichever way would balance the budget. Now, however, it would seem as though we are confronted with a mercurial problem, that of a flattening of pace. Whereas the calamitous events of just shy of a decade ago hit us like an exploding hot lava volcano, this present day ‘flattening of pace’ is not nearly as visceral. Most hotels, corporations and even free independent travelers don’t want a repeat of the Great Recession by being left vulnerable or overexposed, and are thus proceeding almost too conservatively with any hospitality-related expenditures. When taken under a macro-lens, this amounts to market contractions with a slow but gradual increase in supply …

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hand with finger on light switch, about to turn off the lights.

Conspicuous Conservation for Hotels

If you’ve ever taken a course in economics, you’ve likely heard the term ‘conspicuous consumption’ tossed around to describe the purchasing of goods or services as a means of publicly showing off one’s power and increasing one’s social status. Yellow Humvees, gaudy jewelry and bottle service at nightclubs are first to mind as is every other drug dealer cliché you can conjure. Now, however, this term has been retrofitted to account for the 21st century trend of people wanting to publicly signal their alleged altruism through the purchase of green or sustainable products. Although it’s a relatively recent phenomenon, conspicuous conservation is definitely one that you should embrace. While there are some lucrative marketing angles, the bottom line is that engaging in activities that are environmentally friendly will ultimately help our planet and potentially save you quite a bit of cash in the process. Even though your back-of-house upgrades are …

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Close-up of business woman’s hands doing paperwork, against white background, Copy space.

Balance Sheet Woes in Ten Parts

Through over 30 years of working with both independent and franchise-branded properties, I have regularly heard the phrase, “Ownership is disappointed with the results.” This opens a further discussion as to why top or bottom line financial data is not living up to the plan, which usually then leads to spending cuts in a mad dash to restore the P&L to some sort of fiscal profitability. But why does this have to happen? In the packaged goods business, my vocation prior to entering the hospitality world, cutting expenses was rarely considered a primary solution to a brand’s challenges. Rather, management first focused on trying to understand why business was subpar by reviewing competition, pricing, distribution, promotions, advertising and even product enhancements. Often, the solution was to spend more, rather than simply cut and run. Oftentimes, you have to read the ‘note behind the note’ to fully understand how best to …

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Photo of row of computers in classroom of college or other educational institution

An Obituary for the Hotel Business Center

Born in the early days of personal computing, the hotel business center had its peak in the mid-1990s. At its zenith, the facility was a high priority for road warriors who needed to refine presentations, print materials, prepare travel itineraries or work on other business matters, all while hotel staffers stood at the ready to assist wherever they could. Businesspersons from all the world have come to pay their respects, some with bouquets of flowers and freshly dampened handkerchiefs while others ceremonially shovel dirt and obsolete fax machine parts onto the open grave. The advent of mobile devices, tablets and streamlined laptops proved to be the hotel business center’s downfall, rendering it as obsolete as the stapler and three-hole paper punch. Many have come to blame the millennial’s preference for new third space lobby modalities, but it’s likely that the sheer convenience of a smartphone and its numerous apps are …

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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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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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A New Year Means A New Third Space

The modern hotel is not only a place for a good night’s sleep; it’s a place to see and be seen. Lobbies all over the world are being refitted to accommodate a renewed vigor for what is popularly known as ‘The Third Space’ or ‘The Third Place’, both denoting a public locale that serves a hybrid role somewhere between the home and the office. The third space is one of productivity but also relaxation; one of quiet reflection but also socialization; one of sustenance but also libation. As the average workday trends away from a strict nine-to-five protocol, we are witnessing the rise of a labor force that thrives on this blending of the first and second spaces. Now, with the New Year’s clock ticking down, undoubtedly a lobby remodeling (or modifying of another well-trafficked space) to fit this new standard is on many of your resolution lists. Rightfully so, …

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Old weathered street wall with some windows and door

When Your Property Is In Sad Shape

Recently, I had an unfortunate experience while staying at a branded property that was clearly well past its best before date. Despite its prime location in its market and good promotional efforts, it was obvious that this chain outlet was not meeting any of the defined standards outlined by the corporate website. I won’t go into details, but let’s just say that this economy-plus level hotel wasn’t meeting some of the most basic criteria that characterize ‘a good night’s stay’. Being part of a group booking, it was apparent that I was not the only one who took notice of the property’s blatant shortcomings. The grumblings passed along throughout the event sessions would have made for exceptionally shrill TripAdvisor commentary. The one saving grace was the staff – all were gracious and attentive, but it still wasn’t enough. Alas, we are all here to learn, not just to admonish those …

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