Hotel Online Special Report

Hotel Common Sense

“A Bakers Dozen” of Strategies for More
Productive Hotel Staff Meetings


by  Dr. John Hogan, CHA MHS CHE, May 2007

Top ten lists are often quoted or used to catch people's attention, but this series has been expanded to be certain that no one is “short-changed.”   The number thirteen has evolved into what is called “baker’s dozen”.

Following is A Bakers Dozen” of Strategies for using organized team or staff meetings with  more dynamic and successful results

1. Prepare and circulate an agenda.   An agenda should include perplexed topics and times allocated for discussion.     This approach allows participants to know who has the lead on a topic and the estimated time for discussion. 

2. Use “Meeting Time” for the purposes of meaningful discussion and decision making only.  “Meetings” are not the time to distribute forms or to make routine announcements, which can be communicated by emails, newsletters, memos or informal discussions.  Keep focused on matters that need interaction .

3. Share the responsibility for facilitating or chairing the meeting.    While agendas may need to be agreed upon or approved by leadership, everyone grows by rotating the role of meeting facilitator.    This rotation allows all participants the opportunity to learn the skill of effective meeting facilitation, while giving all the chance to see what it is involved in the organizational hierarchy a taste of the challenges in making the meeting productive.

4. Establish a time keeper and keep to the schedule.      Using the agenda time lines established in the agenda, honor the times for beginning and ending by topic.  With a time keeper that can remind the group there are only five minutes left on this topic,  the facilitator can focus on results and wrap up the discussion or establish it needs off line or future meeting time. 

5. Stay the course    Items that could be resolved between two people should be handled off-line immediately, unless specific knowledge of others in the group is essential to the outcome of the matter.   Once that special input is needed, move to the next item on the agenda and advise that this matter will be communicated to all in the appropriate manner 

6. Electronic grazing is NOT part of productive meetings.   This means laptops should be closed, blackberries should left in their case and phones turned off.   If there is a need for interaction with individuals outside the meetings, then plan for adequate brief breaks to allow this.    Reality shows us that one cannot either actively participating or contribute to a productive  meeting if they are constantly checking emails or working on something else.    If that person is too busy to be at a meaningful meeting that everyone else :firewalled time for, that person should not detract from the results that can be achieved. 

7. Push for concrete outcomes.    Debate and deliberation have their place, but clear direction is needed to move forward.   Discussion should be driven by the facilitator towards addressing or answering key questions, documenting decisions and delegating action plans with time lines.

8. Avoid unnecessary debate.     “Thinking out loud:” or “playing the devil’s advocate” may be viewed as politically correct or inclusive, but if the only reason is to ask ”:what if”, then consider if the debate has merit or if it will be counterproductive and of little value.

9. Don’t deliberate what is not known.    We have all heard politicians who will offer opinions on absolutely any subject, regardless of their lack of knowledge on the topic,  If an item on the agenda requires research or another party not at the meeting, then identify what is needed, delegate it as an action item and then move to the next item on the agenda

10. Consider the occasional stand-up meeting, with few or no refreshments.   It is amazing how quickly some meetings can reach the desired results if there are not too many distractions or unnecessary creature comforts.

11. Follow –up.     Delegated responsibility should be clear and give the person assigned the empowerment to make those assignments or tasks happen within an agreed upon time line.

12.  Document follow up concisely.  Some of us are too wordy in our reports.   Bullet points or to the point recaps will allow anyone to quickly reference the action plans, the reports due, the research required or whatever the next steps may be 

13. Publish and distribute the concise meeting outcomes and minutes immediately (or no later than 24r hours after the meeting.  Distribute the action plans and  decisions reached from the meeting as soon as possible to promote momentum towards the next steps.  This also shows the time spent was valued, appreciated and productive

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 Strategies for More Productive Meetings
  1. How do you measure the effectiveness of your meetings?  Is there a plan or do you “let it flow”?
  2. Do you assign accountability for input and follow up at meetings ? When? By whom? 
  3. When was the last time you had a really dynamic meeting?   If it was recently, what made it special? If it has been awhile, what are you going to do about it? 
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.
05/14/07  All rights reserved by John Hogan. 

This column will be included in an upcoming book on hotel management.

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 Certification Commission for the AH&LA Educational Institute and as a Commissioner for the Accreditation Commission  for Programs in Hospitality Administration (4 year programs) and the Commission on Accreditation for Hospitality Management 

He 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.

His professional experience includes over 35 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 Hospitality Educator (CHE) , a Certified Hotel Administrator (CHA), a Master Hotel Supplier (MHS), and a past recipient of the American Hotel & Lodging Association's Pearson Award for Excellence in Lodging Journalism. 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.    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 300 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.


Dr. John J. Hogan, CHA MHS CHE 
Director, Education & Cultural Diversity 
Best Western International -
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 "
Also See: Remembering Tony Marshall, The Messenger of “Reasonable Care” / John Hogan / Hotel Common Sense / March 2007
A Bakers Dozen of Strategies for Hoteliers: Safety and Security (part 2 of 2) / John Hogan / Hotel Common Sense / November 2006
A Bakers Dozen of Strategies for Hoteliers: Safety and Security / John Hogan / Hotel Common Sense / September 2006
A Bakers Dozen of Strategies for Hotel Front Office Managers / Hotel Common Sense / John Hogan / August 2006
“A Bakers Dozen” of Strategies for Hotel Front Office Managers / Hotel Common Sense / John Hogan / July 2006
“A Bakers Dozen” of Strategies for Hotel Sales & Marketing Professionals / Hotel Common Sense / John Hogan / June 2006
"A Bakers Dozen” of Strategies for Hotel General Managers / Hotel Common Sense / John Hogan / May 2006
“A Bakers Dozen” of Ideas for Hotel Management Company Executives / Hotel Common Sense / John Hogan / April 2006


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