Warning Signs Your Hotel is in Trouble... and May Need Outside Help

By Bill Morrissey President, Morrissey Hospitality Companies | October 28, 2008

Given the complexity of running a successful operation today, there are many ways a hotel can find itself in trouble and in need of outside help. Some pretty obvious indicators that things aren't going very well might include:

That last one is really a quote from Albert Einstein, so I really can't say it's an original thought. And as far as I know, Dr. Einstein did not own or operate a hotel. But the simplicity of his words suggest that when things are not going as expected it's a good time to seek out fresh thinking and address issues affecting the business; what are the current market conditions, how have they changed over time, and how is the property responding to them? What has the competitive set done that in some way threatens or jeopardizes the business long-term? What do your customers think, feel, and believe about your brand?

Being prepared, a decree not exclusive to the Boy Scouts, works well in planning for the ups and downs of running a hotel operation. Having a solid sales and marketing effort supporting all revenue generating areas and reacting to current market conditions affecting the hotel is fundamental. But protecting the reputation of the brand is often overlooked or not prioritized in far too many organizations.

Beyond the issues listed above, many of which are a result of poor revenue performance, there are, of course, many external factors that can unexpectedly and negatively affect the business and brand, such as a food borne illness outbreak, labor dispute, or traumatic newsworthy event. Acts or situations that oftentimes happen outside the control of hotel management can have long-lasting damaging effects on the property. How the management team and brand respond to such issues when they happen is critical, and having a trained team with a crisis or issues management preparedness plan at the ready can be the difference between defending the brand versus seeing it destroyed when under attack.

So to address the topic of "Warning signs your hotel is in trouble...and may need outside help," I would suggest a simple question: Are you prepared for when your brand's reputation is under fire jeopardizing the entire business? Having a crisis plan written down and understood by key employees is critical to ensure that as much as possible you control the issue threatening your brand instead of letting it get control over you.

At our properties, we place great value on the reputation of each brand under management. With a diverse portfolio and each property having its own unique characteristics and operational nuances, we strive to place an emphasis on managing the reputation of the brand and providing a quality guest experience over all else. A strong and healthy brand can be more resilient during hard times, and opportunistic during good times. And it needs to be supported and defended every day by every employee representing it. At its simplest form, a brand is a promise made to people who entrust us with their business, regardless if for leisure or corporate use, to us every day. Operations staff deliver on the brand promise being made to the guest, and if there is a disconnect in the guest's mind between the perceived versus actual experience, the brand is broken. Even when shown through the eyes of the media. One of the true tests of a brand promise comes when a crisis occurs.

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Coming up in January 2019...

Mobile Technology: The Future is Now

Mobile Technology continues to advance at a relentless pace and the hotel industry continues to adapt. Hotel guests have shown a strong preference for mobile self-service - from checking-in/out at a hotel kiosk, to ordering room service, making dinner reservations, booking spa treatments, and managing laundry/dry cleaning services. And they also enjoy the convenience of paying for these services with smart phone mobile payments. In addition, some hotels have adopted a “concierge in your pocket” concept. Through a proprietary hotel app, guests can access useful information such as local entertainment venues, tourist attractions, event calendars, and medical facilities and services. In-room entertainment continues to be a key factor, as guests insist on the capacity to plug in their own mobile devices to customize their entertainment choices. Mobile technology also allows for greater marketing opportunities. For example, many hotels have adopted the use of “push notifications” - sending promotions, discounts and special event messages to guests based on their property location, purchase history, profiles, etc. Near field communication (NFC) technology is also being utilized to support applications such as opening room doors, earning loyalty points, renting a bike, accessing a rental car, and more. Finally, some hotels have adopted more futuristic technology. Robots are in use that have the ability to move between floors to deliver room service requests for all kinds of items - food, beverages, towels, toothbrushes, chargers and snacks. And infrared scanners are being used by housekeeping staff that can detect body heat within a room, alerting staff that the room is occupied and they should come back at a later time. The January Hotel Business Review will report on what some hotels are doing to maximize their opportunities in this exciting mobile technology space.