HOTEL BUSINESS REVIEW

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Peter Anderson

Most hoteliers rely on third party feasibility analysis prior to building or expanding their rooms or related infrastructure, but they often turn a blind eye when developing or expanding their spa. Spas have gone from being the "red-haired step child of the resort world,"an amenity that we hope might break even, to the "must have amenity" if we want to be taken seriously. This proliferation of spas is both good and bad for the developer. Clearly, the market has embraced the need for spas--which is good. The dramatic building (and in many cases overbuilding) has made competition for the spa dollar fierce, and the spa user savvy--which can be bad if you don't do your homework. Now more than ever is why spa feasibility is a necessary part of the spa development process. READ MORE

Steve Kiesner

With the U.S. Senate expected to consider the 'Climate Stewardship and Innovation Act of 2005' and other bills this summer that address the global climate change issue, every hotel executive should be paying attention. The 'Climate Stewardship and Innovation Act', being offered by Senators McCain (R-AZ) and Lieberman (D-CT), would cap the nation's carbon dioxide (CO2) emissions at year 2000 levels by 2010. To do that, it would impose limits on how much CO2 the economy could produce in activities such as generating electricity, refining and importing transportation fuels, and manufacturing. Putting a mandatory cap on the country's CO2 emissions would lead to higher energy bills for you, and it would also most likely put a cap on the economy as a whole, which would slow down your guest traffic as well. According to the U.S. Energy Information Administration (EIA), here's what could happen if the McCain/Lieberman bill was passed... READ MORE

Kim Hehir

We have seen an interesting evolution in hotel design over past several decades. At the beginning of the 20th century, the wealthy traveled in grand style at a leisurely pace, with vast amounts of luggage and, quite frequently, large numbers of staff. The design of the hotels that catered to them reflected that style, in size, proportion and atmosphere. The tumult of the 20s, 30s, and 40s disrupted travel patterns, but when people began traveling more consistently in the ensuing years, the look and feel of hotels changed. As travelers became more sophisticated, the demand arose for hotels with design elements that spoke of the destination; that used indigenous concepts and materials to help create a total experience. This demand for authenticity is very strong today. READ MORE

Peggy Borgman

A memorable and satisfying spa experience is never an accident. Great service organizations combine three crucial ingredients to ensure that guests are "wowed" on every visit. The spa director must masterfully coordinate a trilogy of Values, Structure, and Aesthetics. Values and Structure are absolute essentials to good service, but Aesthetics is the "cherry on top" that makes the spa experience a delight and elevates it to the level of World Class. READ MORE

Gayle Bulls Dixon

In the not so distant past, resort spas were an added bonus for those few guests interested in soothing mind and body during their week of rest and relaxation, or were a special treat while away at a business meeting. Even though potential guests or meeting planners would often inquire, "Do you have a spa?" few would take advantage of the offering. Just knowing it was there and available was important; whether or not it was actually used was a different story. My how times have changed! Today, spas are the reason that many guests select specific resorts... in fact, consumers seek out the trendiest treatments and programs. So, while yesterday's spa was a wonderful property amenity, although not necessarily a money maker, today's spa should be viewed as a profit center just like other hotel divisions such as rooms and food & beverage, and it should be operated under many of the same guiding principles and philosophies. READ MORE

William A. Brewer III

Condo hotels are creating quite a buzz in the hospitality industry. Although the concept is not particularly new, the recent stir over the conversion of New York's Plaza Hotel to condominiums has focused the spotlight on this industry phenomenon. Owners, management companies, investors and analysts are all taking a hard look at the potential rewards of this latest development craze. However, developers and investors may want to proceed with caution, because in the hospitality industry everything that goes up must come down - which promises lots of litigation will follow. READ MORE

Robert Trainor

Like clothing or hair styles in the fashion world, china in the restaurant business is ever changing. Twenty years ago when I participated in culinary competitions, judges told us the china would not make a difference in scoring. I disagreed then and still feel strongly about the effect china has on the presentation and overall guest experience. The table top, especially the china, is the herald of the dining experience to come, giving guests their fist hint of what to expect from the meal. In a 1987 competition in Boston, a connection at a German china company allowed me to borrow several different plates in exchange for promoting their product after the judging when the salon was open to the public. I finished in first place with a gold medal and high score. My menu and food were very good, but so were the entries of many of my competitors. It was the way the food was presented on this great line of china that gave my presentation that little extra touch that pushed me ahead of the others. READ MORE

Dawn Walzak

Meeting the Generation X business traveler's ever evolving needs is keeping hoteliers awake at night. I toss and turn wondering what needs to be done to stay ahead of my competitors while meeting and exceeding travelers' expectations. Determining business traveler's interests and managing costs effectively is what keeps making hoteliers sleep deprived. With the demographics of travelers constantly changing, the hospitality industry is charged with one of its most challenging tasks to date and there is no clear-cut answer. The face of the traveler is changing so dramatically by age, sex, nationality and other factors that present additional challenges to the hospitality industry. Times seemed much simpler 10 years ago when it was easier to predict what the business and leisure traveler expected. Today, hoteliers not only deal with the changing face of the traveler but with the amount of knowledge they educate themselves with prior to arrival. In today's world there is no longer an uneducated traveler. I jokingly state to my associates that this began with the launch of USA Today and it becoming one of the most read newspapers by travelers. READ MORE

Peter Anderson

First and foremost, if you are contemplating the development of a spa at your lodging facility, do you already have an unused or underutilized space in your hotel, or will you need to build the additional facility? The cost difference between the two can be significant and because it is all about the revenue per square foot that your spa will generate, and its ability to enhance your existing revenue sources so that you can justify your construction costs. A spa in a lodging environment must compliment and enhance your current operations. Spas are no longer amenities reserved for 4 and 5 star resorts. They are found in many varied lodging products, and when done correctly significantly bolster room rate, extend length-of-stay, fill in low- and shoulder-season demand, augment food and beverage revenues and create added spa and related retail revenue. READ MORE

Al Ferrone

As all of us know in the food and beverage industry, we are in a highly competitive and low-margin business. Most of our products are perishable, and providing top-notch service is expensive. Technology is becoming more important to making gains in productivity, in managing products to keep our inventories low, and in keeping products fresh. Technology is also helping us become more competitive by allowing us to manage CRM. And although technology is useful, we need to be careful when applying it so that we do not diminish the experiences that our guests expect. We need to apply it in areas that do not inconvenience or burden our guests when using it. It may make sense for guests to use a kiosk ordering system at an airport, but I would be reluctant to place that kind of technology in a full-service environment. In a full-service food and beverage operation, I feel that it would be a grave mistake to replace service with technology even though it is available. READ MORE

Peggy Borgman

About ten years ago, spa receptionists came of age. Shedding the gum-smacking image of the salon receptionist, these front line employees were renamed "spa concierges" and "spa coordinators." No longer did they simply book appointments, check clients in and out, and catch up on the salon gossip between customers. Spas had evolved, and their receptionists were now part of a professional customer-care team... READ MORE

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 MORE

Susie Ross

Soft-selling is suggestive selling. No one likes to feel like they're being "sold" anything, including food. Suggestive selling is an art form. Guests should never feel like they're being pushed into buying the most expensive item on the menu. When done properly, guests never know the server is artfully guiding them toward a higher check average, which is actually excellent customer service. Quite possibly, the best marketing line ever created was, "Would you like fries with that?" Fries go with a burger; therefore it's logical to ask a guest if he would like fries to accompany his burger! It works the same in any kind of restaurant, burgers or steaks, fries or baked potatoes. We can learn a lot from the fast food chains... READ MORE

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 MORE

Al Ferrone

As our labor force increases and we evolve into more of a leisure society, many of our new-generation workers do not want to spend as much time on their jobs as employees of the past. This means that one of the key words we as managers, should keep in mind when seeking new talent is balance. We need to make sure that the people who work in our industry keep a balance between work, family and leisure time. The more balance, the more stability. The more stability, the more productivity and less turnover. If we are going to attract the new wave of talented managers, we need to measure a person's worth or accomplishments based not on how much time is spent on the job, but rather on the person's productivity. A highly productive 50-hour, gung-ho enthusiastic manager who gives 110% is much more valuable than a tired, half-conscious 70-hour manager going through the motions. READ MORE

Coming up in March 1970...