Taking Time to Meet with Rooms Competitors Can 
Result in Profits for the Hotel

Just too busy? Or donít think itís right? Never spoken to them before? Donít  even know who they are? Canít give away secrets? The Federal Trade Commission  forbids it?

Whatever the excuse, itís not good enough. There is no good reason for avoiding rooms management colleagues from other hotels. In fact, just the opposite is true. There are many sound motives for meeting with peers from other hotels. And there are plenty of things to talk about that donít involve the Federal Trade Commissionís ban on price fixing. Given that general managers meet with other general managers at hotel shows and conventions, and accountants meet with other controllers at HITEC and local gatherings, and sales people meet sales people from other hotels whenever they can find an excuse ó the question remains ó why donít front office and housekeeping people meet their competitors?

Housekeeping possibilities

Imagine if five area executive housekeepers convened to review cleaning products. Given their combined expertise, any vendor presenting before this group would have to have a good product, an honest price, and a great service program.

What if, while they were meeting, the executive housekeepers arranged a tradeout of heavy cleaning equipment. For instance, Hotel A loans Hotel B a pressure washer and borrows a steam extractor. What if they plan a joint training program for new hires? What if the housekeepers arrange for their full-time employees to be able to work at competitive hotels on days off? 

What if the housemen from small properties meet to spring clean the hotel grounds, one hotel after another? Wouldnít teamwork make the jobs easier? One of the most beneficial reasons for housekeepers to meet is to discuss characteristics of city-wide groups that will be staying at their hotels. 

Another idea for small properties in close proximity: if turndown is not affordable because an employee would have to be paid a minimum of four hours, why not have the employee perform turndown for several inns? And donít forget the power of purchasing as a collective unit. Discounts of 10 percent to 25 percent are available when quantities are high.

Front office possibilities

In addition to many of the reasons listed above, there are other benefits to meetings of front office staff from competitive hotels. For instance, if the city has been receiving negative publicity due to a crime wave, perhaps the police commissioner could make a presentation about the steps being taken to counter the crime. The city would appreciate hearing what guests are saying to hotel employees and the hotel employees should understand how to answer guest concerns.

Along this same thought, perhaps the city is getting a new attraction. ďAt our last reservation managers meeting, a representative from the Aquarium told us about the new exhibits available to our guests,Ē reported Thea Wall, Reservation Manager of the Hotel InterContinental in New Orleans, LA. 

Other meetings of this New Orleans group have focused on analysis of current convention bookings (housing bureau updates, rooming lists status, pick-up reports) and review of future conventions scheduled.

In many cities, the concierge of different hotels meet to review new restaurants, attractions, and service standards. The international Clef díOr association also provides opportunities for concierge to gather.

Good old fashioned competition

Another reason for rooms staff meeting other rooms staff is FUN. Whether itís just renting a bowling alley for an evening of roll-offs or staging an all-out olympic competition, planning fun activities for employees of rival hotels helps everyoneís morale. Bed races, bell-cart races, trivial pursuit (with questions about the community), sales blitzes of local corporations, even on-line computer game competitions can be fun. And raising money for local charity projects can bring needed positive publicity to participating properties.

Increasing revenue

Speaking of money, the Carmel Association of Innkeepers has such a close working relationship that they actually help each other make money. Every night, not one ďNo VacancyĒ sign goes up until all member properties are full. In other words, they have a call-around system with a nightly host member to inform each property about rates and availability at other member properties. Since guests donít have to drive to or call every inn to locate a room, this system is a win-win for both members and guests.

Itís simple. It makes dollars and sense for rooms management staff to communicate ó through work and play ó with neighboring properties. 

©1997 The Rooms Chronicle
Reprinted with permission from The Rooms Chronicle, Vol. 5, No. 5, Pg. 3, 
Sept/Oct 1997.

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Also See: Golden Opportunities Lie in Handling the Cranky Guest and the Next Guest in Line / Brandt Ford
Welfare-to-Work Clients: A New Source of Help / Mary Friedman 
Quick Six Inspection Is A Way for the Busy Manager to Stay In Touch / Gail Edwards 
The Rooms Chronicle
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