Room With a View
by Larry Mundy
November 2006

Drunks in Your Ballroom.
It’s Holiday Party Time!


 
It’s no secret that, for most of us, December is a time of low occupancy.  As the holidays approach, business slows to a crawl, and people stay home and spend time with their loved ones, which is probably why the divorce and murder rates spike in early January.  People who would otherwise be staying in your hotel are at home instead, shopping, decorating, and freezing outdoors all night in a queue awaiting the opportunity to buy whatever new video-game system is fashionable among spoiled children this year.  So if there aren’t many guests in your rooms, what’s the next best thing?  Drunks in your ballroom.  It’s holiday party time! 

You know the drill.  First, you send your most expendable staff member into the depths of the storage room to extract the plastic poinsettias and blow the dust off them, and spend three hours assembling the artificial tree, whose storage box is now just a few random strips of soggy cardboard.  You hang twinkly lights on the ficus in the lobby, which causes it to lose its three remaining leaves.  Someone is sent to the craft store to replace the holiday décor that was stolen by last years’ revelers.

Every group wants its holiday party to happen on a weekend.  That’s because businesses know their employees will be hung over and nonproductive the next day, and would prefer that the office not ring with the seasonal sounds of dry heaves.  There are a limited number of weekend days between now and next year, so you want to optimize the size of groups you book, particularly if you are charging “by the head.”  A successful party booking is one where only two-thirds of the partygoers will fit in the assigned room.  That’s because, at any given time, one-third of the revelers are wandering the lobby harassing your few actual guests, chasing the pretty new secretary down the hallway, or smoking on the loading dock huddled like hobos.

Have your carpet extractor serviced before the party season begins.  That’s because holiday parties inevitably serve red wine, which was used by ancient civilizations as indelible fabric dye, and holiday revelers spill it onto every available surface – carpets, linens, their boss’s shirt.  Some show-off will try to demonstrate the tablecloth-pulling trick, not noticing the full glasses of red wine on the table.  Consider adding one ounce of 3M “Scotchgard” to every bottle of red wine, for easier clean-up later.  It will make people sick if they drink it, but they’re going to be sick anyway.  By the end of the evening, your restrooms will be full of partygoers calling Ralph and Roy on the big porcelain phone.  I know of one hotel who had a plumber remove a toilet the day after a party, to try to find an important client’s false teeth.

In the interests of economy, few holiday parties feature sit-down dining, which is good from a labor-cost viewpoint, but pressures your F&B profitability.  Luckily, there are a number of inexpensive “finger foods” that can be given fancy names and prices.  An olive, speared with a toothpick to the top of a Chicken McNugget and renamed “pollo olivio,” can have a profit margin of over 50%.  Cheez Whiz, spread on a cheap cracker, takes on an upscale look and taste if sprinkled with paprika and Rice Crispies.  Since everyone impressed if caviar is served at parties, but no one actually eats it, look for inexpensive jars of salmon eggs sold as fly-fishing bait.  Balls of deep-fried cornbread dough (known here in the southern U.S. as “hushpuppies”) are both inexpensive, and soak up 27 times their own weight in alcohol.

Finally, plan on keeping staff on hand for at least 3 hours after the party is scheduled to end.  Not only will there be massive breakdown and clean-up, but there will be sick and staggering partygoers who cannot be unleashed upon the outside world, and there will be one-night romances.  Inevitably someone will pull the fire alarm at 3 A.M. to see which scantily-clad people stumble out of rooms together.  Anyone wandering the halls at 3 A.M. with a digital camera is a false-fire-alarm suspect.

We’ll survive the holiday party season, we always do, and sober business and leisure travelers will return in the spring.  Until then, a ballroom full of drunks may be the best we can do.



Larry Mundy works for a hotel company in Dallas.  His views are his own, and may differ considerably from those of a sane person."
 
Contact:

Larry Mundy
LJM2804@yahoo.com

.
Also See: Technology on the March / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / November 2006
Help! My Hotel Room Is Bugged! / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / October 2006
The Straight Poop on Pet-Friendly Hotels  / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / October  2006
Hotel Energy Management Systems 101/ Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / September 2006
Fuscia Floors and Lime-Green Tubs; Not Everyone Wants a “Home-like” Atmosphere in a Hotel / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / September 2006
Your Hotel Laundry Room / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / September 2006
Your Hotel Parking Lot / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / August 2006
Room Service / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / August 2006
Redecorate Your Elevator Cabs, Every Fall / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / August 2006
The Basic Hotel Shower-Tub Combination, a Relic? / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / August 2006
Different Views of Customer Service - The Airline “Passenger Experience” vs the Hotel Guest Experience/ Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / August 2006
The Hotel Guest With Half a Brain / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / July 2006
The Latest Thing - Fractional Ownership Of Things or FOOT Financing for Hotels / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / July 2006
Hotel Floor Surfaces - Hard or Soft? / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / July 2006
Hotel Bathroom Origami - That Tiny Detail of Carefully Triangulated Toilet Paper / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / July 2006
A Chain, a System, a Franchise, a Collection, a Group, a Brand... / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / July 2006
The Forensic Hotel Housekeeper / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / July 2006
The Exercise Room in Your Hotel - Sweating the Details / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / June 2006
Remembering the old-time Hotel Engineering Department / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / June 2006
Curse of the Hotel Lobby-Dwellers / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / June 2006
What Do You Do With an Old Hotel? / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / June 2006
Hotel Smokers: A Dying Breed / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / May  2006
The New Food & Beverage – Food “Just Like Home”  / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / May 2006
Guest Privacy – It’s Not Just a Door Tag Anymore / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / May 2006
The Future of Hotel Reservations / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / May 2006
Soon Every Town in America Will Have an Unused Convention Center / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / May 2006
Hotel Pool Safety 101 / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / May 2006
Where Not To Build a Hotel / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / May 2006
“Exterior Corridors” – Disappearing, Because They Never Existed / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy
My Top Ten Worst Hotel Inventions / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / April 2006
Bed Tech / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / April 2006
A Sense of Arrival / Room With a View - a Column by Larry Mundy / April 2006



Search Hotel Online
Home| Welcome!| Hospitality News| Classifieds|
Catalogs & Pricing| Viewpoint Forum| Ideas/Trends
Please contact Hotel.Online with your comments and suggestions.