Hotel Garden: Snow and Ice Management

By Ken Hutcheson President, U.S. Lawns | February 10, 2013

Co-Authored by Mike Fitzpatrick, Vice President, U.S. Lawns

With the winter season at the doorstep, there is nothing more important for the protection of a hotel property than proper snow and ice management. Treating walkways, plowing snow and patrolling for ice are all essential activities that will help ensure that a business will operate efficiently and safely throughout the colder months. In addition, proper snow and ice management will keep a hotel landscape looking hospitable and accessible despite inclement weather that could otherwise pose potentially dangerous conditions.

Winter weather comes in many forms, all of which present potential harm to a hotel landscape. Snow can inhibit patrons by either blocking access to buildings and driveways or by covering walkways designed to direct customers to entrances and pathways. Snow can also block employee access to parking lots. Heavy snow accumulation can cause damage to structures as it promotes cracking and leaking in building foundations. Properly clearing snow will keep a business accessible in even the worst weather, ensuring operations are able to continue and revenues will not be restricted due to weather.

Maintaining access to facilities and parking is only one of many reasons to maintain control of snow accumulation on a hotel property. Snow build-up can negatively affect the exterior appearance of a property, deterring customers and reducing business traffic. And of course, most important is the safety of pedestrians and motorists. Excessive snow and ice accumulation can be extremely hazardous. Failure to maintain walkways can lead to serious injuries from slip and fall accidents. Proper winter weather management can considerably reduce the liability and risks taken on by any commercial business.

Many landscape professionals are trained to tend to the safe upkeep of a business property in winter. Owners and managers of any business operating in a region susceptible to winter conditions should take care in choosing the right landscape professional for the job. Selecting an experienced and trusted landscape professional can ease winter worries and remove hassles for any business owner or manager. A properly equipped landscape professional should have all the necessary equipment and tools to safely care for a property and should be able to provide the expertise and experience to identify specific inclement weather care needs, and landscape professionals often track weather patterns, adjusting weather management techniques based on the immediate need.

Snow management is an important part of maintaining a business’ image. For businesses that do not engage a landscape professional, it is important to remember that clearing snow can be a large task involving a significant number of man-hours to keep pedestrian and vehicle areas clear. In many cold weather areas, a snowplow is necessary to keep driveways, parking lots and walkways open. Until some experience is gained, plowing can be a difficult challenge. Heavy snow can break plows or get equipment stuck; so if a large amount of snow is expected, it is wise to plow early and often. In addition to being potentially harmful to equipment, plowing deep snow can be very time consuming and require regular maintenance throughout the day. Regardless of the amount of snow or the size of the area needing to be cleared, removing snow is a challenging and sometimes dangerous task.

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.