Questions to ask your resort hotel management company

One of the most important questions an owner should ask his resort hotel management company is how does the food and beverage department perform compared to the competitive set; not that well most likely.

Are you a frustrated resort hotel owner, not sure which way to turn? Then rejoice, help is at hand!

Fenced in by bland corporate food and beverage management teams, branded or chained, who can not think out side of the box?! Tied into a corporate management culture of so-called “service delivery excellence” and those “ brand standard manuals” of meaningless trivia created by creative dead souls who haven’t lived out of the corporate environment  franchise belt?!

Does your 3% and 6% management company ( only 6% you may say) think that ensuring your 29% budget food costs are in line is more important a measure of management performance than ensuring the food offering is what the customer want at a competitive price to what your clients can get up the road? Measuring as a priority $ banked, not % margins?!!

Do you pay fees over a hundred thousand to stifle individuality, having to accept food and beverage concepts driven by the need to meet group franchise standards?

Attend that quarterly owner’s and management business review meeting to hear the  same old story. Cash flow not met, REVPAR below competitive set, food and beverage staff costs over 40% due to poor product demand?

Historically, hotel restaurants have fallen short of quality, creativity, service experience, they still do in general although major efforts have been made to improve this in top line brands and chains.

Fear not though, help is at hand!!

As a hotel business adviser we are not tied in to day-to-day operations, are more qualified and specialist than General Manager’s and most corporate reports, can stand apart from brand standard operators and the corporate protocol. We have a unique stand alone advantageous position in which to see opportunities to unlock value and introduce change, positive creative change, as the third-party support for hotel owner’s.

Sample questions to ask.

Operationally, do the outlets really work? 100%? Or is your hotel restaurant dead and antiquated in product offering, value, quality, ambiance, or all four?

Do the management know the competitive offerings and associated quality and pricing? When was the last competitive market review done?

Does your compete with the high street, those near by, or try to follow it? Market leader or  follower?

What’s more important, department profit or cost margins?

Menu with too many choices, not one thing or the other, trying to be all things to everyone and not something to someone? Tasty fresh food, value pricing, reflects your location?

12 month food and beverage marketing program, leveraged, in sales efforts, daily?

What’s redundant in the market, what’s offered in the extreme in the local market? Where does your fit?

Guest feedback on hand, lease opportunities defined, guest delivery issues sorted?

Capital plan with ROI in place for future use of available capital?

Hotel management stuck in a rut?

Plus “more and more”

For answers to these, the “more and more”, and assistance in unlocking value to your food and beverage operations, be it within boutique resorts or whatever, and for creative cost-effective solutions that question the status-quo of your resort hotel management company, contact mark@turnerlodgingco.com.

Hotel sales program strategies

The quickest way to have occupancy and net profit improve dramatically within a short period of time is by the General Manager getting as involved as they should be in the hotel sales program and general team efforts.

Traveling around and talking to some hotel owners recently some very basic advice seems to be appropriate. This relates to GM’s just not doing their jobs frankly.

Resorts and those properties in the city are somewhat different but in the comments below you can get the gist of  what should be happening.

  • Given your General Manager is the CEO of your hotel every local organization from the chamber of commerce, to the board of each important local community organization, every single tourism authority, and the Tourism Minister should be well acquainted with the GM. Involvement and relationship building needs to be ongoing. Is there a plan in place for this relationship building?
  • A General Manager who is effective in Sales (lets just ignore the operational aspects) will take advantage of the daily peak operating periods to pour some coffee at the breakfast table and pour water at the luncheon table and yes, shake hands. How often do you see that?
  • The GM should meet and greet on arrival all the top 10 key accounts and either follow-up with a call during their stay or speak with them on check out, while ensuring you have great business relationships with the person who actually makes the bookings at these top accounts (the secretary to the CEO?) Who could be better candidates, at no cost, for repeat business or positive word of mouth.
  • He/she should have two on site business lunches per week at a minimum. Look after your key accounts. Look after your high spending resort guests.
  • Your General Manager should be making a minimum of 15 calls a week to new and potential account leads in support of the sales team, who should be met during the daily sales briefing after 5pm to give encouragement and support.
  • Does the GM meet or call each guest who informs the management that something went wrong? These most valued guests, who have taken the time to comment are too often looked upon as someone to avoid. You not only have an opportunity to win them over and ensure whatever went wrong does not happen in the future, but these guests will more likely recommend you to others if you appease them.
  • And most importantly the General Manager needs to instill a sales focused attitude in their team. This can be developed in many ways, but at least get the message across that a smile and acknowledgement from everyone  to all guests  at all times is a must in the hospitality industry.

Trouble is this basic level of management is just not happening sufficiently in real life.

Costly sales programs do not come before the basics, for advice on winning business plans that get all the basics in place before $ is spent, contact Mark, someone who has actually been the GM/Director of sales for a resort and put one on the world map.

What makes a great restaurant?

A value experience makes a great restaurant. Basic. Whether it is the pub down the road or the Italian at the Four Seasons, the food presented and the experience offered needs to offer real value. That means the more it costs the more you need to offer, from ambiance to service. The customer wants great food at a fair price and that package is what you need to produce.

The food offering should be tasty, fresh, exceptionally well cooked, something that gets those taste buds tingling, in my case I like it to be reflective of the location and culture one is in.

Creative menus, not a standard offering one can except to receive in about 75% of hotel and resort restaurants.

Consistency in the food and service quality delivery. No good great one day, appalling the next

Service, the same old motto, It’s all about people. In no particular order the service needs to be attentive but not overbearing, timely and that does not mean quick or prompt it means as the dinners wish, beverages offered and refilled with out request, personable but not over friendly and well-educated and knowledgable staff who understand the product being offered.

An experience to remember, a feel good place. You do not need to spend a fortune on decor and fixtures and interior design but what is offered needs to gel together.

New crockery and flat ware will not solve your problems!

Every table should be placed and located to best advantage in relation to the service delivery, the eye contact that each guest experiences from each chair assessed in order to make best advantage of it. How a customer feels is critical. It is also, in my opinion, the most important component by miles in which a restaurant is judged. That is part of the design process.

Simple, not really, it’s an art, especially to make an adequate profit.

See my further blogs on this most interesting topic.

Competitive analysis, a hotel asset management tool too often overlooked

If you are managing a football team a competitive analysis is one of the first things a manager does on the Monday before a match on the weekend,

Their strengths and their weaknesses, you assess your opportunities to beat them. If you want to be better than others then you need to understand them and know about them, simple stuff.

In the resort hotel management world why is it that the simple yet time-consuming effort to know your competitors better than they know themselves so you can deliver strategies to beat them are so often overlooked?

This aspect of your hotel business plan should form a major part of your strategy. You will be surprised at how little hotel owners and management teams understand what their competitors are doing and what their weaknesses and strengths are, and therefore they lack the knowledge needed to create winning business plans.

This is where the role of the hotel asset manager comes to the forefront, and where we can help.

Firstly one’s ability to take a customer from your competition is based on that customer’s perception of your hotel’s value in their mind’s eye, their perception of you and your product as compared to the competition. It’s all very simple.

The higher a prospective customer perceives you, then you become closer to creating a competitive advantage. It’s the competitive advantage factor.

What can you do?

You need to know how your offerings in total compare to theirs.  How they compare favorably and non favorably.

Start on their website, and surf the web compiling all the info you can find. Visit your competitive set, get to know there product as well as your own. Ask your customers. You will then start to understand how your services and value pricing compare. Use common sense in your approach to information gathering and much will be revealed.

So now what? Well now it comes to a self assessment, where are you better and where do you need to improve? Questions to ask yourself is how are we going to get the correct message out about our strengths, how are we to improve on our weaknesses so they become strengths.

It’s part of putting together a hotel asset management plan that is unique to your investment, that meets your investment horizon. For example one that balances a capital expenditure program redefining a use of space with service and product enhancement strategies, unlocking value.

For expert advice and professional guidance on how you can go about understanding and utilizing your competitive advantage, how you can turn your weaknesses into strengths, and how you can unlock value you never knew you could achieve, ask  mark@turnerlodgingco.com.

 

What makes a great hotel

My top 10 of what makes a great hotel from the shortest to the longest of what hotel owners, management companies and asset managers should focus on.

  • Cleanliness
  • Feel at home
  • Service is friendly
  • Great use of space
  • Design reflects the location
  • Everything offered is great value
  • You feel great sitting in the restaurant
  • Tasty fresh food which reflects the location
  • User friendly technology, you can read instructions
  • The booking process on their web site does not involve having to figure out why there are variations on price on the same room for the same night.

To discuss your top ten as an owner, and how we can be of assistance in making your hotel or your planned hotel project in the top 10, and how we can offer resort management services that stand out from the crowd, email mark@turnerlodgingco.com.

Why inspect a hotel room after it is cleaned

On a recent hotel visit this question was asked by two resort hotel owner’s to the management as they reviewed the half yearly payroll report. “The maids do the cleaning, can’t they can check it,” Yes indeed they can and should, as they work along a structured room cleaning process. But take a look at this sample of a hotel room inspection checklist, from a hotel I managed many years ago, and you get the picture. Expect the maid to get it right 100% of the time? When they have another 13 rooms to clean? or 18 in some cases!! Here is a basic checklist; housekeeping department s can create their own along these lines.

THE ROOM

a)         Guest Room Door: are the seadbolt and chain lock in working order?  Does the peephole close automatically?  Is the door free of fingerprints and dust?  Is the ‘Do Not Disturb’ sign on the inside handle?

b)         Entry Light and Ceiling Fixture. Are they clean and functional?

c)         Carpet. Are the edges and under the bed clean?

d)        Walls. Does it need re-painting or re-glue?

e)         Windows. Glass, ledges and sills all clean? Are the drapes and blackout lining hanging properly? Checked the drape pulls and window latches? For windows with shutter doors, are they dust free?

f)        Beds. Are all the bedding items arranged correctly?

g)         Ceilings. Any cracks, bubbles or cobwebs?

h)         Furniture. Polished? Arranged according to set layout?

i)         Drawers. Are guest amenities supplied in the right quantity and displayed in the correct position? For check-out rooms, check for any items left by previous guests.

j)         Upholstered Furniture. Vacuum or spot-cleaing required?

k)          Pictures and Mirrors. Frames dusted, mirrors straight, no streaks on the mirror?

l)          Telephones. Cleaned the mouthpiece?  Face plate placed correctly?

m)         Lamps. Are the lamp shades clean? Switches work?  All electrical cords neatly coiled up.

n)          Television and Radio. Check the time on the radio. Ensure that the time is correct. Set the alarm on off-position at 12:00 p.m.

o)        Wastebasket. Clean with new liner.

p)         Closet. Dust-free? Number of hangers correct? Extra pillow (where applicable) provide?  Room safe working? All other miscellaneous items are in place, such as clothes brush, shoe horn, shopping bag. etc..

q)         Air conditioner. Is the thermostat set correctly?

r)         Light switches. No finger marks and not broken.

s)         Balconies and Terraces. Ensure exterior light fixtures are working, furnishings are dust-free, floor and handrails are clean.

t)         Potted Plants. Ensure proper care is given.

u)         In-room Minibar. Is it fully stocked? Check expiration dates of food items. Set glassware and supplies to standards. The ice bucket is filled with ice for check-ins.

v)         Coffee Makers. Is it clean? Coffee and condiments must be replenished.

THE BATHROOM

a)         Walls. Are the tiles clean and in good condition? Grouting okay?

b)         Bathtub. Chrome and soap dish clean?  Stopper and shower head in good condition? Faucet is in “tub” position (not shower). Vent above the tub clean?

c)         Shower Stall. Check grouting, tiles, drain, chrome fixtures, soap dishes, proper amenity placement, doors and frame.

d)        Basin. Is the sink clean? Chrome fixtures and counter top clean? Mirror has no spots or streaks? Light is working. Sink stopper is clean. Pipes under sink area are free of dust.

e)         Vanity Top. Free of stains. Check amenity placement. In occupied rooms, ensure the guest toiletries are placed neatly.  Glassware must be clean and free of spots.

f)         Toilet. Check toilet seat and hinges and cover. Is it flushing properly?  Toilet seat bumpers are in place, not leaking or dripping water.

g)         Floor. No hairs. Ensure wastebasket is clean and with liner. Scale is clean and functional, with cover if applicable. Rug is placed in proper position. Inspect vanity stool. Check base boards.

h)         Door. Lock and door handle are in working condition, free of fingerprints. Robe hook and door frame are clean. Inspect full length mirror for cleanliness.

i)          Electrical Outlets. Clean? No cracks?

j)          Shower Rod. Clean and polished. Shower curtain and linen clean and all the hooks are in place.

k)         Supplies. Correctly positioned?

l)          Maintenance Requests. Report any maintenance issues.

m)        Ceilings. Check if vents are clean and free of dust, cracks, or smudges.

n)         Terry Linens. Pay particular attention to the quality of the terry linens.

o)         Make-Up Mirror. Clean and free of dust or spots.  Light bulb is working properly and in off position.

Cost effective? Makes good business sense? You bet it does, and those in hotel management that skip this process to save on payroll they will pay the consequences.

Resort hotel development and what is involved

Developing a hotel? New to resort hotel development? As you figure out where to start and as you contemplate the results of the hotel feasibility study, here are a list of basic issues you need to have in place.

If you have not had a market study done by the way get one done, at the very least this should be done by a professional, not the local real estate agent down the road who sold you this lot with the line ‘great spot to build a resort’.

Get you team together. Yes I mention this as it is not uncommon for those who are inexperienced to not realize the amount of team members which are required to kickoff a successful hotel project. Architect, surveyor, builders and engineers,  interior designer, a hotel consultant to assist you with general input and management and brands options, landscape specialist,  someone experienced in kitchen design plans (not the supplier on his own),  special systems experts in communication, security and the like.

Get your permits in order. Environmental and local municipal issues.

Get your finance in order; realize that you need cash to get this off the ground.

Get your development budget tied down and in order, and get advice on this from experts. Realize that base building costs are a smaller than you expect % of the total build out costs.

Get your management team decided on and contracted? Who will manage this hotel?

Educate yourself, get advice, and if all of the above are in place you will have a good chance of success.

So build out is occurring now, what do you have to do to open a hotel?

Management have to figure out how to overcome numerous challenges along the way to opening.

With conflicting interests from numerous parties it is an interesting and challenging profession.

Consider the balancing act!

Your client and or owner who happens to be a local real estate developer wants to sit in the main restaurant to host his potential real estate clients a week after the chef is hired while construction in the kitchen is ongoing, the financier and developer are eager to get guests in the door before the hotel is completed, the hired team needs to be educated, trained, trained and trained again.

Where will the staff and management team come from? How to get the local community  onside? Will the operating concepts and the pricing strategy actually work? Are we on budget with pre-opening and construction costs? Where will we buy our products and equipment? How secure and safe will this place be? What is our image and marketing position? Where will our guests come from? Who will oversee the defects management of construction/ Will we need to take over the property from construction before defects are rectified/ Can the chef actually cook as the owner appointed him/her and we didn’t test his/her skills during the recruitment drive? Will the staff housing be ready? What will be our environmental friendly practices? How do I keep the owners happy. How do I now persuade head office or/and the owner the 1st years budget was too optimistic?

One can go on and on.

Successful hotel development and opening management requires a feel for where one is at as the circumstances change daily, the uncanny ability to figure out the timing issues and kind of worm one’s way through all the obstacles.

Summary

As your resort hotel management team, business adviser or development consultant we will help you avoid all the opening pitfalls. Proven and tested, our experience in opening or re-launching resort hotels is extensive and almost all took place in ‘hardship’ isolated locations where one has to think outside of the box.