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Frank Meek

Integrated Pest Management, or IPM, is used by hotels all over the country to keep pests at bay and their reputations intact. But why? Is IPM more effective than traditional pest control methods? Is it more cost-effective? These are valid questions, but until last year, no "official" answers were given. The pest management industry was convinced from experience that IPM was more effective, but the cost benefit for commercial IPM users had not been directly addressed. In 2003, Orkin, Inc. and Virginia Polytechnic Institute and State University teamed up to study and evaluate, once and for all, the differences in efficacy - and cost - of IPM and conventional pest control programs. Read on...

Peter Goldmann

In a recent report, TravelCLICK, the E-commerce services company catering to the hotel industry, showed that Internet reservations received at the central reservation offices of the major hotel brands grew a staggering 34% in 2003 over the previous year. The report also shows that last year, brand Web sites were the source of 66% of the brands' centrally booked Internet reservations. The resounding message, of course, is that Internet-based business is rapidly becoming the preferred method for booking reservations. Importantly, this trend is only the latest in a series of transitions of hotel business operations to electronic protocols. Food and beverage transactions...automated check out and electronic room keys have been standard operating procedure for years. Why is this important? Along with the wonderful employee productivity and financial payoffs of electronic operations has come an enormous new challenge for management: Cyber-crime. Read on...

Frank Meek

The average person has a hard time thinking of birds as pests, but any hotel manager who has faced a bird problem understands why pigeons, sparrows or starlings can be just as damaging to a hotel's business as cockroaches, rodents or flies. Unfortunately, the general public affection for birds often keeps hoteliers from taking appropriate precautions to drive them away as they would another kind of pest infestation - rats, for instance - even when they pose similar property-damage and health risks. Birds are a natural and healthy part of our environment, but the pest birds you're most likely to encounter are far from endangered, and your property and guests shouldn't be put in jeopardy to provide a home for them. So minimize the factors that attract birds to your property, and take precautions to stop developing bird problems before they get out of hand. Read on...

Peter Goldmann

Fraud in the hotel, resort and restaurant industries is a constant and costly problem. While some hospitality companies choose to think of fraud as an unavoidable cost of doing business, more and more are realizing that because fraud losses often are extremely high, even a fractional reduction in those losses can mean millions of dollars in "found" profits. For companies that don't believe they have a serious fraud problem...or simply choose to ignore the subject altogether, consider this: According to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners in Austin, TX, the average American company loses 6% of its annual revenue to internal fraud. In other words, a hotel or resort company with, for instance, $1 billion in annual revenues, loses $60 million to employee embezzlement...expense account fraud...theft of inventory, etc. Read on...

Steve Kiesner

The lights have long been turned back on after last August's blackout that put the northeastern United States and Canada in the dark, but the work continues to prevent another major outage from happening again. While it would be impossible to guarantee that it will not, the electric power industry has come together and is putting in place safeguards to minimize the possibility. Longer term, though, the nation needs to strengthen and expand the country's transmission 'grid'. The grid is being forced to find ways to keep up with the continually growing demand for power with limited ability to site or encourage investment in new transmission facilities. The grid is also evolving from serving state and local needs to serving the regional needs of the country's evolving competitive electricity markets. The result is greater congestion on the lines. This can lead to higher power prices for hotels and all customers. It also stresses the electric system, which creates the potential for reliability problems. Read on...

Frank Meek

Occasional invader. To a hotelier, that term might best describe the guy who keeps trying to sell roses in the lobby. But for pest management professionals, the term brings to mind a long list of pests that may not plague hotels as often as roaches, ants, flies and rodents, but that can hurt a hotel's reputation just as badly. Because occasional invaders typically cause problems only when they have invaded in large numbers, a preventive approach is crucial to making sure your hotel doesn't fall victim to an infestation - not even occasionally. Read on...

Peter Goldmann

According to the surveillance director of a major Las Vegas hotel/casino, "No matter how aggressive you are in fighting hotel fraud, you can be almost guaranteed that you're not catching all of the theft. There are too many ways that employees, vendors and guests can steal from you." That may be true, but it also is true that there's an awful lot that hotel management can do to prevent and detect illegal activity that they're not doing now. And-now is a good time to start getting serious about fighting fraud, because, according to the Association of Certified Fraud Examiners (ACFE), internal fraud alone (not counting such crimes as credit card fraud by guests and vendor scams that don't involve a hotel employee) robs up to 6% of gross revenue every year. A special challenge for hotel industry security managers is the fact that hospitality properties generate enormous amounts of cash. Whether it's guests paying cash for rooms or restaurant and bar patrons paying for meals with cash, without strict controls on how that cash is handled...and by whom...there's no question that a significant chunk of it is going to end up in employees' pockets. Read on...

Frank Meek

While hoteliers think a guest encounter with roaches or rodents is their number-one pest concern, the seemingly insignificant fly has the potential of becoming a far greater public relations nightmare. Flies can be equally dangerous disease vectors, even if your guests never see them. If found buzzing in your food preparation and service areas, they can bring about regulatory action that might just get your hotel on the nightly news. Most facilities are especially vigilant against the first two pests, so a guest might never encounter them. Read on...

Frank Meek

Eco-friendly, effective methods for treating infestations I should have known better than to stay in that hotel room. This one was a very clean, business-class hotel in an East Coast convention and tourist city. I detected an unusual odor, I knew that odor and alarm bells should have gone off in my head, but I was so tired I just hopped into bed. I shouldn't have been surprised when I awoke to find little itchy raised bumps on my ankles and tiny drops of blood on the sheets. Bed bugs had ordered room service and I was the main course. Read on...

Frank Meek

Space utilization. Energy efficiency. Security. What's the most important issue when designing a new hotel or upgrading an older one? Surprisingly, pest management should be high on your checklist. With the huge amount of food and supplies entering a hotel on a daily basis, the hospitality environment provides a gourmet buffet for pests and aids in their dispersal and proliferation. Failure to stop pest infestation can result in lost profits, regulatory action, and negative news coverage that can damage a hotel's reputation virtually overnight. There are many ways to "harden" your hospitality plant and reduce the dependency on pesticides. Today's strategy incorporates the principles of Integrated Pest Management (IPM) into facility design and maintenance. IPM is an ongoing, preventive control system that employs the use of more than one control measure. Read on...

Peter Goldmann

Industry experts estimate that up to five cents of every dollar of revenue in a restaurant or bar is stolen. Of the five cents, it is estimated that four cents is stolen by employees. Pretax net income for successful restaurants and bars is generally between four and ten percent. Therefore, by merely preventing one-half of a business's fraud, pretax income would be significantly improved. For a hotel food and beverage operation generating, say, $1 million a year in revenue, that 5% or $50,000 represents a significant loss. For large chains, the math can easily produce some fairly staggering loss figures. In this article we'll explore the major reasons for this high rate of fraud loss including scams in hotel bars, and Front and Back of the House. Read on...

Frank Meek

If you haven't already heard about the return of bed bugs, it's probably only a matter of time before you do. These biting bugs were driven away back in the 1960s, but since the late 1990s, bed bugs have been making a comeback, with much of the activity being found in hotels and other overnight-stay facilities. What is leading to this resurgence? One of the most likely reasons for the uptick in activity is an increase in international travel. According to the Travel Industry Association of America, about 27.8 million foreign visitors came to the United States in fiscal year 2003. By "hitchhiking" on the luggage of unsuspecting travelers, bed bugs can be transported from one place to another quite easily. Read on...

Peter Goldmann

Despite the growing attraction and convenience of purchasing goods and services by credit card, businesses of all kinds - including hospitality companies - are sitting ducks for credit card fraudsters. The problem is two-fold: While until recently, most credit card fraud involved "guests" using stolen or fraudulently obtained credit cards to pay for hotel charges, now the Internet has added a new dimension of credit card fraud threatening hospitality businesses. For example, cyber criminals can hack into a company's customer database and steal large batches of guest credit card information that they then sell on the black market. Or, they can use the stolen credit card information to manufacture counterfeit credit cards, which they then use to fraudulently purchase goods or services. Making matters worse, like companies in other industries that have been hacked by information thieves, hospitality companies could suddenly find themselves on the receiving end of lawsuits claiming damages for liability related to the theft of confidential guest information. To prevent incidents such as these, optimizing the company's information security defenses is the obvious first step. Read on...

Frank Meek

It seems cockroaches, one of Earth's oldest active species, are learning new tricks when it comes to survival. These hardy pests, which have survived 350 million years on the planet, lately are demonstrating more of the cunning that has made them so resilient. Since the 1990s, cockroaches have exhibited an increasing tendency to avoid pesticide baits commonly used in pest control. If your hotels are seeing an upswing in the reports of roach activity, this could be a reason why. Read on...

Peter Goldmann

Kickbacks are an all-too-common restaurant and hotel crime involving insiders and outside vendors. Hospitality companies that acknowledge their vulnerability to these schemes are one big step in the direction of preventing and deterring significant losses. Kickbacks in hotels and restaurants can take many forms, but regardless of their unique and often ingenious qualities, nearly all kickback crimes boil down to improper payments being made to a company employee by an outside vendor. Read on...

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Coming up in October 2019...

Revenue Management: Focus On Profit

Revenue Management is still a relatively new profession within hotel operations and as such, it continues to evolve. One significant trend in this area is a shift away from using revenue as the foundation to generate key performance indicators (KPIs) and to instead place the emphasis on profit. Traditionally, revenue managers have relied on total revenue per available room (TrevPAR) and revenue per available room (RevPAR) as the basis of their KPIs. Now, some revenue managers are using gross operating profit per available room (GOPPAR) as their primary KPI. This puts profit at the center of revenue management strategy, and managers are increasingly searching for new ways to increase the profitability of their hotels. Return on Investment is the objective of any hotel investment, so it is only logical that profitability and ROI will be emphasized going forward. Another trend is an expanded focus on direct hotel bookings. Revenue managers know that one way to increase profitability is to steer guests away from online travel agencies (OTAs) and book directly with the hotel. This tactic also reinforces brand identity and loyalty, and encourages repeat business. In addition, it provides a valuable platform to market the hotel directly to the customer, and to upsell room upgrades or other services to them. Another trend for revenue managers involves automation in their software programs. Revenue management systems with automation are far more desirable than those without it. Automating data entry and logistics increases efficiency, allowing managers to spend more time on formulating strategy. As a bonus, an automated system helps with aggregating and interpreting data. The October issue of the Hotel Business Review will address these developments and document how some leading hotels are executing their revenue management strategies.