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Steven Belmonte

There are several steps that can be taken to ensure smarter decisions when it comes to repositioning your hotel in the marketplace. Industry vet Steve Belmonte shares these steps that he believes will help your hotel to thrive in this economy whether you choose to renovate, reposition or reflag. Read on...

Steven Belmonte

It's not a good feeling to be unappreciated -- especially if you are a hotel owner struggling to keep up with fees imposed by the franchise company. Steve Belmonte, Owner and CEO of Centerstone Hotels, discusses the importance of being part of a franchise in which mutual appreciation exists between franchisors and their franchisees. The end result will be a hotel full of guests that show their appreciation via continued loyalty. Because franchising represents about 60 percent of the hospitality industry and contributes billions of dollars in annual U.S. revenues, creating a solid franchisor/franchisee relationship is critical to the overall good of hospitality and travel. Read on...

Michael Goldstein

Increasing profits, running an efficient hotel operation and maintaining prominence are common goals associated with the hotel industry. Because the ongoing relationship between a hotel franchisor and franchisee often affects each of these aspects of day-to-day hotel operations, that relationship is particularly important to ensuring continual new business, a positive work environment and ultimately, a profitable hotel. Read on...

Steven Belmonte

Maybe not yet, but I predict soon, the stodgy, old hotel franchises with the "our way or the highway" mentality will be a thing of the past. They will be as useless, and broken-down as the coin-operated vibrating beds that were once popular at hotels and motels across the country. With the advent of the Internet and advanced technology, hotel membership brands and new, loosely structured franchises are flourishing. Third-party websites, Global Distribution Systems, and strategic alliances allow these new hotel companies to operate at a fraction of the cost of a typical franchise. Read on...

Steven Belmonte

One would think that after 30-plus years in this industry, I've seen it all. But truth be told, I'm still witnessing some amazing new roles and functions that are taking place in the hospitality industry. The industry had an incredible few decades with prosperity, growth, new programs, and a new direction in terms of franchising. And now that we are at the beginning of a recession, we are seeing franchisors developing creative and ingenious marketing programs and incentives to compete with emerging brands that have captured the attention of franchisees. Read on...

Steven Belmonte

For the hotel franchising industry, friendships are most keenly important not with one's workers or lenders, or even with the employees and executives of one's franchise company. Indeed, the most important bonds are to be formed with other entrepreneurs who have cast their lots with that particular franchise company and figuratively or in reality hoist the same franchise flag every morning in order to properly welcome weary travelers to the inn. For it is they who know best the struggles and obstacles to success faced 365 days a year by a hotelier in a franchisor/franchisee relationship. And it is they who are the most likely sources of information and problem solving that eventually can lead to enhanced bottom lines and the attainment of success in the hotel industry. Read on...

Steven Belmonte

There is no longer a day that passes in which I don't receive a phone call, e-mail or letter from a hotel owner who has a large number of concerns about his or her relationship with a franchise company. Actually, sometimes it is just a prospective hotel owner, but whatever the case, it is always someone who has found frustration and confusion. The source of their problems is the contracts already entered into (or about to be entered) between them and the hotel franchise company. Whether I am in my office or attending a hotel-industry event, the conversation invariably is about problems that crop up between a hotel franchise company and a hotel owner. Inference should not be drawn here that the problem in these matters has anything at all to do with devious franchise companies. While all of them are in the business of making money, none would survive for very long if they engaged in practices that are dishonest, unfair or morally bankrupt. So, it is clear that the problem is not that franchise companies are out to cheat potential and current franchisees. Precisely, the problem is that the franchise agreement is an intricate document designed to deal with as many situations as possible in favor of the side that draws up the contract-namely, the franchise company. Read on...

Steven Belmonte

One of the greatest personal debates we often face centers on character. Do you believe that it's possible for a person to possess both a public and a private character, even if the two are very different? What you do in private is your own business, as long as it doesn't affect your public performance, right? Not necessarily - especially when your personal performance impacts your business performance. Once you divide your personality and your actions into two or more categories, you deviate from the very definition of the word "character." At its root, one's character is defined by one's integrity - "The quality or state of being complete, unbroken condition, unimpaired, of sound moral principle, uprightness, honesty and sincerity." - (Defined by Webster) Therefore, if your character - which defines who you are - is broken into two or more entities, you no longer have integrity because you are no longer "whole." Without integrity, you don't have much character. Unfortunately, without integrity it is still possible to run a successful business. However, the chance of your being successful is greatly minimized, and while certain people may do business with you, it's most likely out of necessity. When your integrity is low, "people know it." Read on...

Steven Belmonte

September 12-13, 2005, franchisees from all over the nation will march on Capitol Hill in Washington, D.C., to celebrate "Franchise Appreciation Day" initiated by the International Franchise Association. This annual event, now in its 6th year, is held to heighten the visibility of franchising and to educate our U.S. Congress on the important role franchising plays in our nation's economy. This got me to thinking. Franchising represents about 60 percent of the hospitality industry, contributing billions of dollars in annual U.S. revenues. So why is it that we as an industry do not celebrate a national or global "Hotel Franchise Appreciation Day?" Could the answer be that hotel franchising simply isn't appreciated? With franchise fees what they are today, I have to believe that the franchisors appreciate it. Travelers certainly appreciate it - especially those reaping the rewards offered by growing brand/franchise-loyalty programs. Even national franchisee associations appreciate hotel franchising. Read on...

Steven Belmonte

Benjamin Franklin needs no introduction. His accomplishments and contributions to our country in the seventeen hundreds were many. Likewise, his words of wisdom have been recited to us by our mothers and fathers for many generations. Some of my family's favorites included: "A penny saved is a penny earned", "A place for everything and everything in its place", and "A small leak can sink a great ship." But some of the less known phrases are the ones that can perhaps teach us the best lessons if we relate them to the world of hotel franchising. In particular, two Ben Franklin quotes come to mind: "Well done is better than well said," and "A countryman [or hotelier for our purposes] between two lawyers is like a fish between two cats." Read on...

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Coming up in April 2019...

Guest Service: A Culture of YES

In a recent global consumers report, 97% of the participants said that customer service is a major factor in their loyalty to a brand, and 76% said they view customer service as the true test of how much a company values them. And since there is no industry more reliant on customer satisfaction than the hotel industry, managers must be unrelenting in their determination to hire, train and empower the very best people, and to create a culture of exceptional customer service within their organization. Of course, this begins with hiring the right people. There are people who are naturally service-oriented; people who are warm, empathetic, enthusiastic, pleasant, thoughtful and optimistic; people who take pride in their ability to solve problems for the hotel guests they are serving. Then, those same employees must be empowered to solve problems using their own judgment, without having to track down a manager to do it. This is how seamless problem solving and conflict resolution are achieved in guest service. This willingness to empower employees is part of creating a Culture of Yes within an organization.  The goal is to create an environment in which everyone is striving to say “Yes”, rather than figuring out ways to say, “No”. It is essential that this attitude be instilled in all frontline, customer-facing, employees. Finally, in order to ensure that the hotel can generate a consistent level of performance across a wide variety of situations, management must also put in place well-defined systems and standards, and then educate their employees about them. Every employee must be aware of and responsible for every standard that applies in their department. 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.