Hotel Online Special Report

Hotel Common Sense
“A Bakers Dozen” of Ideas for Hotel
Management Company Executives


by John Hogan, MBA CHA MHS CHE, April 2006
The front page of the December 26, 2005 Chicago Tribune offered a most interesting headline: DOES ANYONE HAVE TIME TO THINK ANYMORE?

In a period of cell phones, text messaging, palm pilots and blackberry hand held devices that keep many people accessible and responding well beyond the ten hour workday, one wonders about the value of free “think” time any longer.

We often see a top ten list of ideas.  
The term "bakers dozen" arose when bakers started giving away an extra loaf with every dozen purchased to make sure the total weight of bread sold complied with the strict Weights and Measures Regulations which came into force at the time. Since then, the number thirteen has been referred to as "a baker's dozen".

Following is “A Bakers Dozen” of ideas for Hotel Management Company Executives

1. MBWA – The expressions “Management by Walking Around “ was popularized in the 1980s by Tom Peters and Robert Waterman as a main premise of  their book IN SEARCH OF EXCELLENCE. 

  • Regularly visit all hotels on both scheduled and unannounced visits.
  • Look at the front of the house AND the “heart of the hotel”
  • Use the feedback and observations from these visits in a positive way.   
  • Mentor those who need it, coach appropriately and increase the two way communication cycle.
2. Listen Better. Do not prepare your response before the other person has actually delivered their message.

3. Set professional expectations clearly. Make them of value, be certain they can be measured fairly and that they can be used.

4. Hold regular one-on-one sessions with all direct reports throughout the organization.  These should not be formal “reviews” but guide posts to reinforce positive actions or to correct a course if market conditions have changed.

5. Constantly assess time management.  It is not are we doing things “right” but are we doing the “right” things correctly?    The 80-20 rule of priorities and value remains true much of the time.

6. Set realistic operating budgets.  Include agreed on margins, target new ground but be reasonable.   The cost of turnover from people realizing they cannot achieve unattainable budgets only sets you back farther.

7. Plan, coordinate and implement capital budgets annually. We all need to recognize the need for ongoing and short term dividends and results, but deferring needed physical upgrades will likely cost more when postponed and will probably also cost in lost customer loyalty that recognized the lack of commitment to quality.

8. Walk the talk. As in #1, one should be demanding but one must also be fair.  

  • Is your management company office “in line” with expectations and agreed on values and standards.  
  • As in #2, LISTEN and don’t prejudge.
9. Training must be maintained and increased.   When revenues are flat or declining, cutting ongoing training to “save money” will really cost more as it will drive the good staff to consider leaving and the loyal customers to the competition because it appears you don’t care.

10. Pay attention to the “human” resource role with increasing intensity.  Recruit and select people wisely.  Recognize your team regularly with “thank you’s “and expressions of appreciation.  Retain the champions by whatever it takes to keep them.

11. Keep a system of checks and balances.   All management companies have audits to their financial books.  Use a meaningful staff feedback or survey  system to “audit” the people values who keep your hotels successful

12. Know your customers.  Industry icon Mike Leven was honored in 2004 in the Hospitality Industry Hall of Honor at the University of Houston.   His career included senior executive roles in Holiday Inns, Days Inns and Americana Hotels among others before he came to his own US Franchise system.  He will tell you a major part of his success is attributable to knowing major customers, regardless of his title.  

  • Do you as a management company executive know the top five customers of each of your hotels?  
  • Have you ever contacted them by phone or letters to thank them and ask if there was anything else your group could do for them?
13. Know your staff.  The Dunfey Family was one of a family of hoteliers who grew their holdings from a single property in small town New Hampshire to a major force in the industry before they elected to sell their venture.   At one point they were Sheraton’s largest franchisee with more than 40 hotels, as well as a number of other brands and independents.   They anticipated the disco phenomenon in the 1970s and expanded to most major US cities with their own brand before they acquired the name OMNI. Roy Dunfey, a brother who had a career in anther industry before he retired and joined the family business in his 60s, would travel around the continent 50% of the year.  He became the family face who knew the staff.  He would recall a graduating` student or an illness of a staff member from last year’s visit.  I don’t know how he gathered his sources, but the staffs at those dozens of hotels he visited twice a year knew someone important at the management group felt they were important as individuals. 

Think Tank 

Questions of the day

These questions are offered to stimulate discussion about the way we do business.  There is not necessarily only one “correct” answer – the reason for this section of the column is to promote an awareness of how we might all improve our operations.  Consider using these or similar questions at staff meetings encourage your team to THINK!


A Bakers Dozen” of ideas for Management Company Executives
  1. How often do you really visit your hotels?
  2. How are your operating and capital budgets prepared?
  3. How often do you as a management company exec become involved in sales?
  4. Do you know more than the GM at your hotels?
  5. How well do you listen?
Feel free to share an idea and contact me at [email protected] anytime and remember – we all need a regular dose of common sense.

The opinions expressed in this article are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of this publication or of Best Western International.

John Hogan, Ph.D. CHE CHA MHS is the Director of Education & Cultural Diversity for Best Western International, the world’s largest hotel chain.  Best Western International has more than 4,200 hotels in 80 countries and is one of the worlds most established and recognized hotel brands, founded in 1946 in California.

He serves on several industry boards that deal with education and/or cultural diversity including the Hospitality Industry Diversity Institute, the AH&LA Multicultural Advisory Council, the AAHOA Education and eCommerce Committee and is the Best Western liaison to the NAACP and the Asian American Hotel Owners’ Association with his ongoing involvement in the Certified Hotel Owner program.

He holds an undergraduate degree from the University of Massachusetts and his Ph.D. in International Business and an MBA via Distance Learning from UNW.  His professional experience includes over 30 years in hotel operations, food & beverage, sales & marketing, training, management development and asset management on both a single and multi-property basis.  He is a Certified Hotel Administrator (CHA), a Master Hotel Supplier (MHS), and a Certified Hospitality Educator (CHE) and is a past recipient of the American Hotel & Lodging Association’s Pearson Award for Excellence in Lodging Journalism.  He has served as President of both city and state hotel associations.

John’s background includes teaching college level courses as an adjunct professor for 20 years, while managing with Sheraton, Hilton, Omni and independents hotels.  Prior to joining Best Western International in spring of 2000, he was the principal in an independent training & consulting group for more than 12 years serving associations, management groups, convention & visitors’ bureaus, academic institutions and as an expert witness.  He has conducted an estimated 3,000 workshops and seminars in his career to date.

He has published more than 250 articles & columns on the hotel industry and is co-author (with Howard Feiertag, CHA CMP) of LESSONS FROM THE FIELD – A COMMON SENSE APPROACH TO EFFECTIVE HOTEL SALES, which is available from HSMAI , and other industry sources. 
He resides in Phoenix, Arizona and is working on his 2nd book –
The Top 100 People of All Time Who Most Dramatically Affected the Hotel Industry.


John J. Hogan, Ph. D  CHA
 Director, Education & Cultural Diversity 
Best Western International -THE WORLD'S LARGEST HOTEL CHAIN ®
6201 N. 24th Parkway, Phoenix, AZ 85016-2023  
Phone 602-957-5810; fax 602-957-5815
[email protected] 

"...we all need a regular dose of common sense "

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