Preparing Your Hotel Landscape for Spring

By Ken Hutcheson President, U.S. Lawns | March 19, 2017

As temperatures start to warm up and thawing begins, many hoteliers across the country are thrilled to say goodbye to winter. In some regions, particularly in the Northeast and Midwest, this winter proved to be a hotelierís worst nightmare. With above freezing temperatures and blizzard-like conditions, it was difficult for some guests to even travel to their destinations. Keeping entranceways, parking lots and sidewalks clean and safe was another challenge many hotel owners and managers faced this winter. Now that winter has officially come to an end, itís time to prepare your landscapes for spring.

Below are a few simple tips to ensure your landscape is prepared for the upcoming season:

Protect and Invest in Your Curb Appeal

Hotel owners and managers know that their hotelís year-round curb appeal is extremely important in attracting the right guests to their property. The landscape is often a guestís first impression of your hotel (whether the guest realizes it or not). Because of this, hotel owners and property managers need to focus on creating a visual landscape that aligns with their hotelís brand image. For example, two to three star hotels/motels like the Quality Inn, Comfort Inn & Suites, Best Western, and Holiday Inn arenít trying to give off the impression that theyíre competing with high-end hotels. Thatís not to say that they donít care about their landscapes Ė theyíre just unlikely to create elaborate flower displays/arrangements or invest in high maintenance landscapes with expensive foliage. Despite this, these hotel managers and owners know that they still need to foster a crisp and clean landscape. Low cost and low maintenance landscapes are the ideal gardening solution for these types of hotels.

Talk to your contractor about what vegetation is right for your geographic location. This will help you determine which plants/flowers are right for your hotel. Keep in mind that durability and maintenance are two important factors to think about when choosing foliage. For instance, Snapdragons, Cleome, and Caladium are a few examples of vegetation that are suitable for all locations and they donít require much upkeep.

On the other hand, if youíre a property manager for a high-end resort or hotel, the costs associated with your curb appeal are going to be higher. Four and five star hotel brands like The Ritz Carlton, The Four Seasons, The Park Hyatt, The Fairmont, and The Intercontinental, have a certain look and feel about them. Those property managers should work with their contractors to plant more extravagant flower displays in the public areas where the guests have access. There should also be a consistent theme throughout the property to uphold the hotelís brand. The pool area needs to express the same level of luxury as the entranceways and the lobby. While the costs are going to be higher to do this, itís necessary to meet the expectations of your customers. Itís been proven that flowers in particular create an emotional impact on guests. In fact, a Rutgers University study showed a that thereís a link between mood elevation and flowers. Flowers also work to enhance a destinationís atmosphere. For example, a hotel in Hawaii would be full of tropical vegetation like plumerias and hibiscus, while a hotel in China would lean more toward Zen arrangements.

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Coming up in April 2018...

Guest Service: Empowering People

Excellent customer service is vitally important in all businesses but it is especially important for hotels where customer service is the lifeblood of the business. Outstanding customer service is essential in creating new customers, retaining existing customers, and cultivating referrals for future customers. Employees who meet and exceed guest expectations are critical to a hotel's success, and it begins with the hiring process. It is imperative for HR personnel to screen for and hire people who inherently possess customer-friendly traits - empathy, warmth and conscientiousness - which allow them to serve guests naturally and authentically. Trait-based hiring means considering more than just a candidate's technical skills and background; it means looking for and selecting employees who naturally desire to take care of people, who derive satisfaction and pleasure from fulfilling guests' needs, and who don't consider customer service to be a chore. Without the presence of these specific traits and attributes, it is difficult for an employee to provide genuine hospitality. Once that kind of employee has been hired, it is necessary to empower them. Some forward-thinking hotels empower their employees to proactively fix customer problems without having to wait for management approval. This employee empowerment—the permission to be creative, and even having the authority to spend money on a customer's behalf - is a resourceful way to resolve guest problems quickly and efficiently. When management places their faith in an employee's good judgment, it inspires a sense of trust and provides a sense of higher purpose beyond a simple paycheck. The April issue of the Hotel Business Review will document what some leading hotels are doing to cultivate and manage guest satisfaction in their operations.