Proactive Snow Removal Planning for Hotels: An Ounce of Planning is Worth a Pound of Cure

By Scott B. Brickman CEO, Brickman | October 28, 2008

Snow removal presents a significant challenge for hotel executives. After all, guests measure the experience of their stay from the time that they pull into the parking lot to the time that they leave. If your guests have difficulty navigating your parking lot due to a poorly-plowed surface, it will have a profound negative impact on their stay. Business travelers can be late to meetings, and recreational travelers may leave with a bad feeling about their hotel experience. Even employees may be affected, resulting in less efficient operations and low morale. All said, snow removal can be the source of many headaches for everyone.

So how can you, as a hotel executive, minimize the impact of snow on operations? The first step is to make snow and ice removal a top priority year-round, not just when the weather starts to turn cold. Hotels that experience the best snow removal efficiency are those that begin lining up contractors in the summer and fall. These hotel executives recognize that the best snow removal teams require a comprehensive knowledge of their parking lots - and traffic patterns - before it is buried under a mass of the cold, white stuff.

By negotiating a contract in advance of winter, hotel executives give their contractors and building superintendents an opportunity to build a communications strategy before such interactions become critical. At the start of the relationship, the contractor and superintendent can exchange emergency phone numbers and establish snow and ice removal procedures that can be fine tuned over time. Although each hotel will craft a plan that meets its individual needs, it is important to communicate expectations up front to avoid frustrations and potential future billing disputes.

One area of discussion needs to be how plowing will occur during a prolonged snow storm. If, for example, snow is coming down for an extended period of time, should your contractor make multiple trips to your site? If yes, it is important to agree on the scope of work ahead of time. Another important consideration is how to address the messy issue of removing snow under cars. Typically, plows will clear aisles of a parking lot quickly, but the snow can slide under parked cars. When those cars leave, hotel executives need to decide if they want the contractor to return to remove the excess snow.

If you need plows to come back, will you be billed again or will it be considered part of the original job? These are the type of "what-if" scenarios that need to be negotiated up front before signing any contract with a snow removal specialist. Clearly, the way your snow removal contract is structured will have a profound impact on short and long-term costs.

Once you are ready to take a proactive approach to your hotel's snow removal strategy, there are a few important steps to follow. First, you will need to prepare a list of potential contractors. When assembling your list, you should try to include a few different contractors and closely review past performance on hotels similar to yours.

Coming up in February 2018...

Social Media: Engagement is Key

There are currently 2.3 billion active users of social media networks and savvy hotel operators have incorporated social media into their marketing mix. There are a few Goliath channels on which one must have a presence (Facebook & Twitter) but there are also several newer upstart channels (Instagram, Snapchat &WeChat, for example) that merit consideration. With its 1.86 billion users, Facebook is a dominant platform where operators can drive brand awareness, facilitate bookings, offer incentives and collect sought-after reviews. Twitter's 284 million users generate 500 million tweets per day, and operators can use its platform for lead generation, building loyalty, and guest interaction. Instagram was originally a small photo-sharing site but it has blown up into a massive photo and video channel. The site can be used to post photos of the hotel property, as well as creating Instagram Stories - personal videos that disappear from the channel after 24 hours. In this regard, Instagram and Snapchat are now in direct competition. WeChat is a Chinese company whose aim is to be the App for Everything - instant messaging, social media, shopping and payment services - all in a single platform. In addition to these channels, blogging continues to be a popular method to establish leadership, enhance reputations, and engage with customers in a direct and personal way. The key to effective use of all social media is to find out where your customers are and then, to the fullest extent possible, engage with them on a personal level. This engagement is what creates a personal connection and sustains brand loyalty. The February Hotel Business Review will explore these issues and examine how some hotels are successfully integrating social media into their operations.