Vancouver, Canada - December 11, 2011: The starship Enterprise from the Star Trek television franchise, against a black background. The model was made by Micro Machines, from Galoob.

Lessons for Hotels from the Final Frontier

Beam me up, Scotty! The original television series Star Trek ran 79 episodes in the late 1960s. After being canceled due to poor ratings, it was revived and has since spawned a slew of popular TV shows coupled with 13 high-budget movies as well as a barrage of novels, comics and other ancillary IP. To this day, thousands call themselves ‘Trekkies’ with the remarkable ability to regurgitate every line from those original episodes. Most everyone, Trekkie or not, knows Captain James T. Kirk, the fearless leader of the Starship Enterprise. Played by William Shatner, Captain Kirk was known for his remarkable capability of keeping the ship and its seemingly hundreds of crew members safe as the ship hurtled through the galaxy and faced impossible odds. To me as a pre-teen, this was heady stuff! But what does this have to do with the world of hospitality? And what can we …

lmaadminLessons for Hotels from the Final Frontier
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‘Hotel Hell’ Season Two Review

Having just wrapped its second season, “Hotel Hell” represents a solid hour of television — albeit a slight guilty pleasure — with many important lessons for hoteliers. Nearly two years ago, I reviewed the first season to mixed sentiments. As the centerpiece of the show, celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay’s bold and confrontational persona is what holds it together and keeps us thoroughly entertained, even as the episodes devolve into a formulaic structure of oddball or obstinate owners and cookie-cutter solutions. Yes, the producers likely canvassed the United States to find the worst of the worst in order to create the most excitement, but I still can’t help but feel as though certain characters are exceedingly dramatized. I guess the word got out after the first run of episodes, and now people are “playing up” for the camera. Moreover, at times I don’t see eye to eye with Ramsay’s suggestions, even though his …

Larry Mogelonsky‘Hotel Hell’ Season Two Review

Checking In at the Grand Budapest Hotel

Like many fans of director Wes Anderson’s oeuvre, I was eagerly awaiting the release of his latest moving picture, “The Grand Budapest Hotel.” As the name implies, the hospitality industry takes center stage in this film. It’s also hilarious and well acted, and I’d recommend it to everyone. But what I wasn’t expecting was a full course in proper staff etiquette and guest service ideology, among other things. Without too many spoilers (as this movie hasn’t reached many parts of the world quite yet), here is what I learned. An honorable career Early in the film, Ralph Fiennes’ concierge character, Gustave H, interviews the other lead, the new lobby boy, Zero. He asks why Zero would want to work there. Without hesitation, the rookie employee replies (and I’m paraphrasing here), “Who wouldn’t want to work at the Grand Budapest Hotel?” Working in hospitality should be deemed a venerable, sought-after occupation, …

Larry MogelonskyChecking In at the Grand Budapest Hotel

‘The Great Gatsby’: A return to elegance

If you didn’t catch the movie “The Great Gatsby,” I am sure you have seen the trailers. If you go, pay less attention to Leonardo Dicaprio (who plays F. Scott Fitzgerald’s Jay Gatsby) or Cary Mulligan, his object of attraction. Rather, cast your eyes on the sheer opulence portrayed in the movie: the costumes, the sets and the food consumption. Note how retailers, from Brooks Brothers to Harrods, have adapted promotional opportunities tied into the movie’s premium positioning. The world of Gatsby is one of total excess. Champagne pours like water, cars are only the finest, men wear tuxes, the women are dressed proverbially “to the nines” and the party never stops. Contrast this with a recent trip to a 2-star Michelin-rated restaurant in Barcelona. There I was on a weekday night, the only one wearing a sports jacket. Looking around, I noted men wearing sweaters, sports shirts and blue …

Larry Mogelonsky‘The Great Gatsby’: A return to elegance

Hotelier Notes from Season Two of Fawlty Towers

When I first starting researching – and by researching I mean watching – the 1970s British TV series Fawlty Towers for a ‘Lessons Learned’ style article, I wasn’t too optimistic. After all, we’re talking about extrapolating the screwball sitcom antics of a small English countryside inn into something meaningful for hoteliers who are undoubtedly the complete opposite of what the hilariously spiteful innkeeper, Basil Fawlty (played by John Cheese), embodies. Needless to say by this introduction, the quantity and quality of my observations was astounding. Fawlty Towers proved to be such a treasure trove of useful morsels of guest service wisdom that I had to divide the show into two articles, one for both of its six-episode seasons. You can read my thoughts on the first season here. When the creatives convened to start outlining ideas for the latter six episodes of the series, they knew that, even though it …

Larry MogelonskyHotelier Notes from Season Two of Fawlty Towers

Hotelier Notes from Season One of Fawlty Towers

Sometimes in order to understand what sets the bar for good service in the hotel industry, you have to gaze upon the dark underbelly of what is truly and horrifically bad. It’s all about contrast; the yin and the yang. To know what would qualify your establishment as a lemon, you need only taking one passing look at Fawlty Towers, the 1970s 12-episode British sitcom starring the magnetic John Cheese as the titular rural English B&B owner and operator, Basil Fawlty. The show is a riot, brimming with bashful comedy and ludicrously over-the-top coincidences; all in good fun though. It’s as if the writers said, “What makes for a great hotel experience? Good, now let’s do the opposite of that.” And this is why Fawlty Towers deserves our attention, even some three decades after the second season wrapped. There are so many deliciously poignant nuggets of information for hoteliers in …

Larry MogelonskyHotelier Notes from Season One of Fawlty Towers

Hotel Lessons Learned from Downton Abbey

For those unfamiliar, Downton Abbey is a spectacularly produced period drama set on the titular aristocratic estate just outside of London in the period in and around World War One. The story follows the Earl of Grantham family, the activities of the era and, importantly, the ample cadre of servants with their own explicit hierarchy. As a hotelier, I feel as though this is a meaningful series to watch. And don’t panic, the show, which just wrapped its third season, is available for worldwide rental or purchase in hard and electronic formats. Setting aside any spoilers, my focus today is on the lessons learned applicable to our jobs some one hundred years after the time period of this show. Without any further convincing or buttressing, let’s dive in and see: 1. Staff and guests do not mix, except in specific interactions. It is not appropriate for members of your staff …

Larry MogelonskyHotel Lessons Learned from Downton Abbey

Lessons Learned from ‘Hotel Transylvania’

  In lieu of it being the scariest week of the year, I deemed it apt to save my review of the monster-filled and hospitality-centric Hotel Transylvania until this point. This Adam Sandler vehicle is already a bona fide box office success, which means it’ll bankroll more kids-friendly animations and propel an unavoidable case of the sequelitis. A breezy hour and a half of bright, colorful fun, the movie is great for the young ones, albeit with a rudimentary plot and tame humor – don’t go in expecting Lawrence of Arabia and you’ll be fine. What I find germane about framing films – particularly comedic ones – through a hospitality lens is that at the core of every scene or nuanced quip is a bare truth about our jobs, whether obvious or overlooked. For the above-the-line talent of Hollywood fair (actors, directors, writers, producers), globetrotting and transient hotel visits are …

Larry MogelonskyLessons Learned from ‘Hotel Transylvania’

‘Hotel Impossible’ Review and a Rulebook for Your Own Hotel Reality Show

Writing on Gordon Ramsay’s new Fox series ‘Hotel Hell’ drew a slew of comments from eager hoteliers, but most remarkable were the near-constant recommendations for the Travel Channel’s competitor ‘Hotel Impossible’. It was all too hard to ignore and so I found the time to watch much of this 13-episode opening season. Hosted by renowned hotel fixer, Anthony Melchiorri, ‘Hotel Impossible’ is a good counterpoint to ‘Hotel Hell’. Comparisons are inevitable, but first, let’s review the basics. The show follows Melchiorri as he traverses the United States, visiting inns and lodges on the verge of bankruptcy. The host finds himself dealing with a variety of problems ranging from training insufficiencies and owner obstinacy to cleanliness issues and outdated décor. He also utilizes a hidden camera to punch up some sequences. Each episode is dovetailed by an uplifting postscript detailing each property’s successes in the months after Melchiorri’s resuscitation. With blunt …

Larry Mogelonsky‘Hotel Impossible’ Review and a Rulebook for Your Own Hotel Reality Show

‘Hotel Hell’ lessons learned, part three: Time for the umbrage!

  This is my third and tentatively final broadcast about Fox’s new hotel-centric adventure-thon following celebrity chef Gordon Ramsay as he navigates the frightful corridors of ‘Hotel Hell’. When I first watched the premiere, I was elated. Finally, a show about quirky hotels with some solid lessons packed into an entertaining hour. But I cautioned that you can’t fully judge a show by its opener. As the second full episode, then the third and fourth have come to pass, I now have a broader understanding of the tone and story arcs of each installment. And I’m not partially enthused to keep blocking off an hour for this. What irks me about Hotel Hell is that it’s all style and no substance. Take the fourth episode for instance where Ramsay finds himself at the Keating Hotel in San Diego, a Ferrari-themed, pretentiously overpriced doomsday dwelling of 35 rooms. One female guest …

Larry Mogelonsky‘Hotel Hell’ lessons learned, part three: Time for the umbrage!