Keeping Your Hotel's Landscape Healthy and Safe on a Budget

By Ken Hutcheson President, U.S. Lawns | May 28, 2017

Your hotel's landscape is responsible for making a first impression with your guests. Your landscape should be a reflection of your hotel's brand and should clearly demonstrate to your customers the type of experience you hope your property will deliver-relaxing, comfortable, safe, and fun. In other words, dedicating financial resources to landscaping and grounds keeping are more than worthwhile from an ROI perspective. Nevertheless, as any hotel executive knows, unforeseen circumstances often require difficult budget decisions. If you are forced to dedicate less budget and resources to your landscaping, follow these best practices to ensure that your landscape's health, aesthetics, and safety do not suffer.

Have a Clear Scope of Work (SOW)

Keeping your hotel's landscape healthy on a budget starts with having a clear scope of work (SOW) with your landscape company or grounds care company. The SOW should define all the landscape activities that will occur throughout the year. Typically it will include the core services – mowing, edging, leaf blowing, trimming etc. – plus additional select services to enhance and protect the property, like irrigation maintenance, fertilization and pest control, arbor care and tree maintenance, mulch replacement and replenishment, shrub fertilization and pest control, annual color rotations of flowers, etc.

It is important that budget planning is incorporated into the SOW. Hoteliers must consult with the hotel's landscape professional in order to plan ahead for the coming year and the longer term. Additionally, the grounds care or landscaping company needs to know about, and understand, the hotel's year-round landscape plan and overall budget in order to provide proper care; ensure the landscape's beauty, health, and safety; preserve the hotel's investment in the property; and safeguard the hotel's brand. It is a true partnership that develops over time, to the benefit of both the professional grounds care company and the hotel.

A professional grounds care company is a true partner to your hotel, so hoteliers should feel free to discuss these potentially cost-saving options with them. Just remember that your grounds keeper provides core services, the frequency of which shouldn't be adjusted, because they are preventative: they help you avoid major, unexpected expenses down the road. Select services, however, are optional and their frequency can be safely altered, helping you immediately save money. These services include the amount and type of materials like turf, flowers, trees, and shrubs.

Align Your SOW with Your Budget

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Coming up in March 2019...

Human Resources: An Era of Transition

Traditionally, the human resource department administers five key areas within a hotel operation - compliance, compensation and benefits, organizational dynamics, selection and retention, and training and development. However, HR professionals are also presently involved in culture-building activities, as well as implementing new employee on-boarding practices and engagement initiatives. As a result, HR professionals have been elevated to senior leadership status, creating value and profit within their organization. Still, they continue to face some intractable issues, including a shrinking talent pool and the need to recruit top-notch employees who are empowered to provide outstanding customer service. In order to attract top-tier talent, one option is to take advantage of recruitment opportunities offered through colleges and universities, especially if they have a hospitality major. This pool of prospective employees is likely to be better educated and more enthusiastic than walk-in hires. Also, once hired, there could be additional training and development opportunities that stem from an association with a college or university. Continuing education courses, business conferences, seminars and online instruction - all can be a valuable source of employee development opportunities. In addition to meeting recruitment demands in the present, HR professionals must also be forward-thinking, anticipating the skills that will be needed in the future to meet guest expectations. One such skill that is becoming increasingly valued is “resilience”, the ability to “go with the flow” and not become overwhelmed by the disruptive influences  of change and reinvention. In an era of transition—new technologies, expanding markets, consolidation of brands and businesses, and modifications in people's values and lifestyles - the capacity to remain flexible, nimble and resilient is a valuable skill to possess. The March Hotel Business Review will examine some of the strategies that HR professionals are employing to ensure that their hotel operations continue to thrive.