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Hotel Hell

Last year, your occupancy index was over 125%, your RevPAR was more positive than you thought possible, you were fully staffed, you ranked in the top 10 hotels on Trip Advisor for your area and your bonus allowed you to get a new car.

Now, you wish that Gordon Ramsay would offer to host Hotel Hell right in your lobby to give you some clue as to how this happened and what you need to do to fix it.

There was a catalyst, although you probably cannot identify it. There is definitely a downward spiral that you can’t seem to pull out of. And the competitive nature that raised you to such heights in the past, has prevailed over your daily consideration to resign .

How Did You Get Here

The hotel may have changed management or ownership which threw it into a tailspin. Or a key member of the staff resigned. An account that held over 50% of your occupancy checked out. These are major changes that happen from time to time in the life of a hotel and while hindsight is 20/20, you are here now and need to recover quickly.

Knowing the origin of your current demise helps very little in the recovery. Coming through any one of these major growing pains will help you be better prepared for next time, but you must understand that you cannot attribute your entire current state of affairs to one bad day.

Normally, there is a shake-up of some sort.

The team does not fully understand what to do NEXT.

You lose direction, you lose moral, you lose staff members.

Your guests can sense this, and they start complaining.

Complaints aren’t handled because you are lacking in staff.

Surveys begin to reflect poor service, poor condition of the hotel, poor cleanliness and maintenance.

You are forced to drop your rates to pick up any occupancy.

Lower rates bring less respectful clientele.

You cannot keep good people working in a dump.

The budget is so far down, you can’t afford to spend any money to make the hotel better.

And so it goes, and so it goes….

Rethink the Possibilities

If you are one of the few members of the hotel staff who have chosen to “stick it out,” you have to be prepared to think differently than before the fall.

Stop stating the obvious to everyone. Your hotel is in the crapper, but you do not need to focus on this. A constant barrage of negative comments will only become self-fulfilling prophecies. Quit complaining. Quit whining. Verbalize HOPE.

Stop chasing your tail and move forward. In so many of these cases, the entire hotel staff spends an exorbitant amount of time and energy putting out fires. Instead, dedicate a few members of the team for guest recovery. This team should be correcting guest issues, talking with guests to recover their loyalty and identifying key issues that are repeated in surveys and comments.

Create a plan and write it down. From all of the information handed to you by guest comments, you should be able to identify trends. Write each trend down and then write an action item to correct each trend. This is list of physical activities that will require a lot of work and a lot of organization.

You have to get comfortable with taking your eyes off of the fires in order to create real and lasting changes.

Re-write the budget. It is tough to justify or request money when profits are so low, but you need a different kind of budget for this short term plan of recovery. Finalize your Action Plan with a list of all items you will need to purchase and all temporary hires you will need to bring on. For any reparations that will require a more expensive fix, clearly define the necessity for the repair and secure three bids from professional contractors.

Hire on a temporary basis. Instead of interviewing great people, spending time with all of the corporate on boarding procedures and begging them to “hang in there,” hire a temporary team to help with your short term plan. They will know why they were hired and will not be easily discouraged by abnormally hard work. Pair members of the core team with your temporary team working day and night to blitz through the hotel, performing Deep Clean Projects, full Preventative Maintenance Projects. Encourage the staff to get fresh eyes on the property, identify easily remedied cosmetic issues and get them fixed. Many of these require very little time and money and make a huge impact on the overall appearance of the hotel.

Raise the roof. When this plan is approved and well underway, do not be afraid to raise your rates. This will eliminate the prior class of complainers and destroyers and bring in fresh blood who will enjoy seeing the hotel transform.

If you are living in Hotel Hell and feel like there is no way to accomplish this, call…

Coba EM

Our Blitz Consultants specialize in making hotels beautiful again!

june mccreight author

June McCreight

June McCreight began her career in the hospitality industry as a housekeeper in 1996. In the years since, she has risen through the ranks, learning maintenance, front office, sales and revenue management, property management and district management, bench management and opening team management. She has trained hundreds of hoteliers and won many awards for her management successes. In 2011, June wrote and published, The Strangers in My Beds, a fictional novel based strictly on the strange events of her career in hotels. In 2014, June partnered with her father, a very accomplished software architect, and opened the business, Coba Enterprise Management, LLC with a very unique and specialized CMMS (Computer Maintenance Management System) software for hotels.

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