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Nobody Asked Me, But….
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By Stanley Turkel, MHS, ISHC
January 24, 2006

1.  For those of you who can face up to the harsh reality of the perishability of the hotel guestroom, here is a logical and workable solution (made possible by the internet):

  • give customers the tools they need to make an informed decision on your website.
  • change your per room price hourly online during the day: increase it if occupancy is strong and reduce it if occupancy is weak.
  • customers can play the waiting game and take the chance that a) rates will increase as the day wears on, or b) rates will decrease and they can book a room at a bargain rate at the end of the day.
2.  New York City ended 2005 with an astounding 87% occupancy rate with 22 million room nights, an increase of one million over 2004.  This activity generated $21 billion in wages for 300,000 jobs and $5 billion in city, state and federal tax revenues, according to NYC & Company.

3.  Are there any ideas utilized by the World’s Largest Laundromat (Berwyn, Illinois) which are appropriate for a hotel lobby:

  • Saturday afternoon carnival with magicians, jugglers, face painters, even a unicyclist.
  • Santa Claus posing for pictures at Christmas
  • The Easter Bunny handing out chocolate in April
  • Cartoon characters on Halloween
  • On summer weekends, a read-athon raffle with bicycles for prizes
  • Free pizza on Wednesday nights 
  • Free doughnuts and coffee every morning
  • Free table and magnet games for a children’s play area
  • Live music, comedy nights and nightly disc jockeys
  • Diner-style booths near the vending machines serving not just candy and chips but White Castle hamburgers and other microwaveable meals
  • A children’s play area open every day of the year
4.  After hotels have spent millions on upgrading mattresses and thread count on sheets, bathrooms are finally getting luxury treatment with bigger tubs and showers with enough nozzles to mimic a car-wash:
  • Gansevoort South on Miami Beach will have showers with multiple shower heads and six-foot-long tubs when it opens next fall.
  • Sofitel in Los Angeles will have oversize showers surrounded by glass walls that change from clear to opaque with the flip of a switch
  • Rihga Royal Hotel in New York is renovating bathrooms to include all Waterworks bathtubs, fixtures and linens by next fall when the hotel reopens as the London NYC.
  • Hotel Valley Ho in Scottsdale placed Philippe Starck- designed bathtubs in 21 of its 194 rooms – next to the bed behind a curtain
  • InterContinental Playa Bonita Resort in Panama has suite bathrooms with shutters that open to the rest of the room so guests can lounge in the tub and watch television
  • Shoreham in New York has new bathrooms with Vichy showers with five nozzles.
Believe it or not, in the Bronx, NY house where I grew up many years ago, the master bathroom stall shower contained six side spray nozzles.  So what’s new?

5.  Did you see the important guest column by John W. Wilhelm in the January 9, 2006 Hotel & Motel Management magazine?  Wilhelm is the president, hospitality division of Unite Here, the hotel and restaurant employees union.  He makes the following points:
 

  • In 2006 more than 500 hotels employing more than 50,000 workers will be involved in negotiations including 19 Hilton Hotels and 40 Starwood properties.
  • Unite Here does not seek a national contract but recognizes that the hotel industry has consolidated and therefore constructive dialogue should take place with the major employers at the highest levels.
  • To fight the crisis over escalating health-care costs, Wilhelm points to the experience in the Las Vegas market where the union and employers achieved substantial savings through purchasing pools and networks of high-quality, competitively priced health and dental care providers.  These collaborative efforts, he says, can effectively hold health-care costs in check while providing a very strong benefit to hotel workers.
  • Immigration reform is another area where a coordinated approach could develop a united policy that grants immigrants (who are in the United States, working hard, paying taxes and learning English) a chance to earn legal residency.  Wilhelm states, “Our industry depends on immigrants.”
  • Employers and the union should correct the fact that, in most cities, our industry no longer hires any significant number of African Americans.  This is unjust and overlooks an important work-force resource.
  • To achieve a 20 to 30 percent workers compensation savings, Wilhelm says that the industry and the union should get other states to emulate the California “opt out” language.
  • Wilhelm points to the gaming industry where the union has worked with companies to deal with the threat of federal regulation and taxation and to encourage expansion to new jurisdictions, has achieved real savings on health care and demonstrated a progressive approach in the area of work rules and food and beverage operations.  Wilhelm believes that this example can be replicated in the hotel sector despite the differences in the two industries.

6.  Rules of Thumb

  • Checking an egg - when placed in a bowl of water, a fresh egg will sink and lie on its side.  An egg that’s not fresh but still edible will sink and stand partially erect on its side tapered end.  A rotten egg will float.
  • Adapting a novel for film - as a rule, the more you liked the novel, the less you will like the movie that is made from it.
  • The trash rule of three - you have to look through a wastebasket three times to find a missing piece of paper.
  • The traveling rule of two - when traveling, take twice the money and half the clothes you think you will need.
  • Writing a book - to determine how long it will take to write a book, estimate how long it should take, double it and add six months.  This one I know first hand.  It took me nine years to write “Heroes of the American Reconstruction”.  You can buy an autographed copy by sending a $36 check (which includes postage) to: 147-03 Jewel Avenue, Flushing, New York 11367.


Stanley Turkel, MHS, ISHC, is a New York-based hotel consultant specializing in hotel franchising issues, asset management and litigation support services.  He is a member of the International Society of Hospitality Consultants and can be reached at stanturkel@aol.com and 917-628-8549.
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Contact:

Stanley Turkel, MHS, ISHC
stanturkel@aol.com
917-628-8549

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Also See: Nobody Asked Me, But…. / Stanley Turkel / December 2005
Nobody Asked Me, But…. / Stanley Turkel / November 2005
Nobody Asked Me, But…. / Stanley Turkel / October 2005
Nobody Asked Me, But…. / Stanley Turkel / September 2005

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