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John Tess

The future of boutique hotels is bright. The traveling public continues to prosper and have growing discretionary dollars. It has demonstrated a strong appetite for experiential travel with an affinity for cities, architecture, and history that helps provide context for their present day reality. Product supply has not appreciably affected demand and increasingly should segment; as cities increasingly create differentiate their core into specific districts each with their own identity, so too will boutique hotels find new homes. As a product type, boutique hotels are becoming institutionalized with associational representation such as the National Trust's Historic Hotels of America. And finally, they are benefiting from an ever successful marriage of energized marketing and design focus on creating experiences. Read on...

Scott B. Brickman

According to a recent study, the U.S. lodging industry continues to benefit from double-digit profit growth in 2006. The data suggests that the gross operating profit for the typical U.S. hotel increased 13.1 percent from the first half of 2005 to the first half of 2006. So, how as a hotel manager, can you make the best use of this profit to create greater value for shareholders? One answer is an upgrade to your property's landscape. An attractive landscape with vibrant plants, flowers and trees makes a positive first impression on hotel visitors. High visibility areas like driveways, paths and entrances are a great place to introduce new plant materials and reinforce your hotel brand through color schemes and/or other design elements. Read on...

John Tess

There was a time when the name said it all: In New York, New York, it was the Waldorf. In San Francisco, California, it was the Fairmount. In Atlanta, Georgia, it was the Winecoff. In McAllen, Texas, it was Casa de Palmas. And in Garden City, Kansas, it was the Windsor. In today's vernacular, these hotels then were the grand dames of the communities. Sadly, the aging grand dames have had a poor survival rate. Such was the saga of the Blackstone Hotel in Chicago... Read on...

Nicole Gould

Hoteliers face two trends which are seemingly at odds with each other, but now a definite winner seems to be emerging. On the one hand, the economics of franchise brands and real estate development call for a uniform product that's easy to build and monitor regardless of where in the country the property is located. It's the "cookie-cutter" or "one size fits all" syndrome. On the other hand, recent surveys show that having a memorable experience - whether at dinner, in a store, or on a trip - is quickly becoming more important to Americans than accumulating material wealth. This is the customer's request to "wow me" or "show me something special." In short, "wow me" is beating out the "cookie-cutter." Here's why and how. Read on...

Scott B. Brickman

One of the first things guests notice upon arriving at a hotel is its landscaping. It is also one of the most crucial - and overlooked - aspects of building customer satisfaction. Since repeat guests are your best customers, it is important to maintain a fresh new look that will keep them entertained and returning for years to come. But keeping your landscape fresh and up to date with changing seasonal aesthetics is challenging for many hotel executives - especially in areas like Southern California and Texas where there is little seasonal variation to the landscape. Color, climate and different light exposures all factor into the design and maintenance of an interesting landscape with a year-round aesthetic interest. Read on...

Scott B. Brickman

Many hotel executives are aware that wasting water costs money. But with increasing demands on many municipal water supplies, frequent and increasingly severe droughts and a broadening concern for the environment, it has become more important than ever to control the flow of this precious limited resource. Irrigation expertise and advances in irrigation technology, however, provide a ready, proven solution to a major source of water waste. Read on...

Scott B. Brickman

With concern about climate change on the rise, consumers expect businesses to do their part to reduce their negative environmental impact. A recent survey by Tripadvisor.com indicates that environmental friendliness is an important travel-planning consideration for many individuals, with 34% of respondents stating they would be willing to pay more money to stay at an environmentally-friendly hotel. For this very reason, hotel executives are beginning to recognize the importance of turning their gardens green by using sustainable landscaping techniques. Read on...

Roger G. Hill

Rather than trying to predict the market, hoteliers can look into the future and make investments that set the stage for explosive growth when the economy takes off. Instead of reacting to today's economy, hotel owners can prepare for tomorrow's. Today's marketplace offers hotel owners a perfect opportunity to work on projects they put on the back burner early, as contractors and suppliers lower building costs in response to dwindling demand for their services. The cost of labor and materials decreases right in line with the economy. As an hotelier, you can take advantage of the economics of an uncertain market. Read on...

Roger G. Hill

Developers of boutique hotels are experts in leveraging design to create unique guest experiences. Historic hotels are perfectly poised for redevelopment as boutique hotels, and they offer that something extra that guests seek. Don't be afraid to invest in a historical property, especially if it's designated a landmark. The design challenges inherent to historical properties are surmountable, and even the most dilapidated properties can be restored to glory. The end result is a modern hotel infused with a narrative, and the cachet of staying in a historical property can make for an unforgettable guest experience. When you embrace a hotel's past and restore its glamour, guests feel the magic. Read on...

Roger G. Hill

It's all too easy for hoteliers to fall back on tried-and-true formulas in designing the next crop of boutique hotels. Today's formula is working, as evidenced by the growing popularity of boutiques. However, the segment's hallmarks are innovation, creativity, and risk-taking. As we move into the future, boutique owners need to embrace the same fresh thinking that earned boutiques their reputation 20 years ago. Inspiration can come from virtually anywhere - if you know where to find it. Read on...

Roger G. Hill

Walking into a hotel lobby is like shaking the hand of someone you just met. It's all about the first impression. Just like people, hotel lobbies embody distinct personalities. A lobby can be aloof, inviting, intimidating, or unbelievably cool. As an hotelier, you cannot stand by your front door greeting all the guests that make their way onto your property, but you can choreograph initial experiences by transforming your lobby into an oasis. Read on...

Scott B. Brickman

In a business where appearance truly matters, hotel landscapes are expected to look good year 'round - no matter what. But in many cities across the U.S., frequent droughts and stringent water restrictions can present a real challenge when it comes to keeping landscapes healthy and beautiful. And as the environment continues to change and the effects of global warming are felt on an even larger scale, the issue will only become more important over time. The good news is that, with the help of a qualified landscape contractor, there are ways to keep your hotel landscape green, even during the driest months. Consider the following advice as you work with a trusted professional to develop a drought-tolerant landscape plan that's right for your hotel property. Read on...

Scott B. Brickman

How can you align your brand strategy with your landscape maintenance strategy to deliver a consistent guest experience among your different properties? Part of the answer is selecting a landscape maintenance provider with the expertise, resources and geographic reach to continuously deliver on your brand promise to your guests. Whether you are considering a geographic expansion for your hotel chain or thinking about ways to consolidate your landscaping to create a single, unified brand experience, here are some thoughts to consider: Read on...

Brian West

The sagging face of our economy has forced each and every one of us to reconsider our lifestyle choices. No one is exempt from the distress of the economy and therefore no industry has been able to maneuver the tragedy of cutbacks. However bleak the economy may be, the need for hotel properties to march forward is paramount in at least the maintenance of existing properties. Hotels can't just rely on their core product and services to compete. They need something extra - Added-Value Design - to help differentiate them from the competition, tempt new customers and keep the ones they've already got. Read on...

Brian West

As a developer, real estate is, by its nature, an expensive non-liquid asset. It costs a lot of money to own it, and it can be difficult to sell. In development activity, there are also added costs of improvements and included are the fees of various consultants necessary to get the development work done, but with more than three trillion dollars annually feeding the global hospitality industry there remains considerable motivation for developers to continue to build. As a designer I am challenged daily with a multitude of new global projects, and though each project varies significantly in it's scope, - the five considerations highlighted in this article serve as guides in the design execution process. Read on...

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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.